How the Beatles Changed the World (2017) - full transcript

The fascinating story of the cultural, social, spiritual and musical revolution ignited by the coming of the Beatles. Tracing the impact that these four band members had, first in their native Britain and soon after worldwide, it reappraises the band and follows their path from young subversives to countercultural heroes. Featuring fresh, revealing interviews with key collaborators as well as a wealth of rarely-seen archival footage, this documentary presents a bold new take on the most significant band in the history of music and their enduring impact on popular culture.

We want the Beatles.

We want the Beatles.

We want

the Beatles.

We want the Beatles.

We want

the Beatles.

We want the Beatles.


The Beatles burst

onto the World Stage in 1963,

they transformed

popular music over night.

A commercial phenomenon

like no other,

they paved the way

for every artist

who followed in their wake.

They were selling

vast amounts of records,

a quarter of a million a week.

No one had ever

done that before.

Even Elvis hadn't,

Lonnie Donegan hadn't.

Every week selling a quarter

of a million records.

You had a revolution,

just in terms of sales.

But in addition to that,

The Rolling Stones.

we wouldn't have had

You wouldn't have The Byrds,

you wouldn't have had

Dylan going electric.

You wouldn't have had The Doors,

and all those other bands

we associate with the 60s.

The chances of them existing

without The Beatles

are pretty slim.

Yet the band's

impact spread far beyond music.

As figure heads for

a blooming youth culture,

penetrated to the heart

their influence

of the post-war world.

They were

agents of change.

They were carrying

everyone with them.

Everything felt modern, new,

fresh, everywhere you looked.

The world started

to look different.

The colors

started to really emerge,

the green shoots

of a new culture.

From the point of

The Beatles' arrival,

how culture works.

they completely reinvented

Suddenly, adults were

growing their hair long.

Grown-up women were

wearing mini-skirts.

Suddenly, it was young people

who were determining everything.

That started with The Beatles.

By the

second half of the '60s,

the band transformed

into leaders of the

emerging counterculture.

Bringing new social,

sexual and artistic ideas

into the mainstream, through

their peaceful revolution

they became the undisputed

voice of a generation.

The Beatles were the most

commercial band on earth.

But they were also the most

avant-garde and experimental.

That was their role.

Through their music, they

opened up peoples' minds.

They helped to

move a lot of people

who might not otherwise

have gone along

in '66, '67 and '68.

with the stuff that happened

They were inspirational and

influential in that way.

But as they became more

involved in the counterculture

and more representative of it,

they became a political threat.

This film

traces The Beatles' path

through the most extraordinary

decade of the 20th century.

It reveals the lasting impact

of four musicians

from Liverpool,

who went from class warriors

to cultural revolutionaries,

while providing the

soundtrack for a generation.

They were catalysts

for a great many things.

They changed just

about everything.

Great Britain, 1962.

A small and once

dominant Kingdom,

finally recovering

from years of Austerity

following the Second World War.

A nation of

discipline and order,

of industrial cities and

quiet village greens.

And although outwardly it

appeared stuck in the past,

beneath the surface a fresh

culture was developing

that would rapidly transform it.

At the close of the

year the UK was hit

by some of the coldest

weather it had ever suffered,

everyday life grinding to a halt

as snow covered the country.

Breaking through this bitter

winter, on January 11th, 1963,

a record was issued that

provided the first glimpse

that was to come.

of the brave new world

Please Please Me,

the second single

by Liverpudlian

four-piece The Beatles,

quickly rose to number

two on the British charts,

and its mainstream success

announced the arrival

of a revolutionary force

in both music and culture.

♪ You don't need me

to show the way love ♪

♪ Why do I always

have to say love ♪

♪ C'mon ♪

♪ C'mon ♪

♪ C'mon ♪

♪ Please please me, whoa

yeah, like I please you... ♪

Please Please Me was

a kind of eruption.

They took the blunt force

of 1950s rock and roll,

which was a blunt instrument,

there's no other

way to describe it.

Musically and socially,

it was a blunt instrument.

And they grafted on

to that the harmonies

quality of the girl groups

and the whole plaintive vocal

of the early 1960s.

Nobody had ever heard anything

quite like this before.

This was a group that had

two of the best singers

of their era in the same group,

and something like that

I don't think had

really happened before.

The sound of John Lennon and

Paul McCartney singing together

is one of the great sounds

in music of the 20th century.

♪ Last night I said

these words to my girl ♪

♪ I know you never

even try, girl... ♪

They were a shock

to the system.

Love Me Do was the first single,

and it was a bit

of a false start.

Please Please Me is when

you had

the unison sound of the band.

They're singing,

"Come on, come on."

There's this sense

of anticipation

and a sense of excitement.

It was a fresh sound.

It sounds so traditional now.

But at the time,

the look and the sound

was completely fresh.

It was positive,

uplifting and modern.

The Beatles..

John Lennon, Paul McCartney,

George Harrison

and Ringo Starr..

provided a much needed

shot in the arm

to Britain's pop scene.

Although American rock and roll

had been enormously popular

in the mid 1950s,

its electrifying initial

surge proved short-lived.

With its major stars

either selling out

or disappearing from the scene,

the musicians that came in

their wake were more wholesome

and less threatening.

British artists followed suit,

and the musical

landscape in the UK

was dominated by

talented imitators

and the teen idols of pop

Svengali Larry Parnes.

manager Brian Epstein

With the support of their

and producer George Martin,

The Beatles offered

something very different.

Driven by the unique

songwriting partnership

of John Lennon and

Paul McCartney,

this band composed

their own material.

Most of conventional

English show business,

as we think of it,

was really a pale reflection

of American show business.

It had not always been the case.

But since the war,

certainly it was.

You had singers like Matt Monro

who did an almost letter perfect

imitation of Frank Sinatra.

By the same token,

you had the famous facile,

fatuous English pop stars

of the period,

of whom Cliff Richard

was by far the best known

and the most successful,

who was a kind of third-rate

version of Elvis.

of Heartbreak Hotel

And not of the Elvis

but of the Elvis of King Creole,

the Elvis of Elvis

the movie star.

♪ We're all going

on a summer holiday ♪

♪ No more working

for a week or two ♪

♪ Fun and laughter

on our summer holiday ♪

♪ No more worries for me

or you ♪

♪ For a week or two... ♪ ♪

It was pretty professional.

Cliff Richard and The

Shadows were good players.

It was a good act.

But it was family friendly.

And you had also characters

like Larry Parnes,

with his stable of pretty boys

who did what they were told,

who sung what they

were told to sing,

and who had no particular

creative input at all.

So when somebody like

The Beatles comes along

and they're not only

playing their own instruments,

singing beautifully,

their own compositions,

they're also singing

this was incredibly

rare at the time.

The Beatles were

keen from the start

to write their own material.

They wrote the songs

to the audience,

to address the audience.

They knew that the audience

was 80% teenage girls

and they wrote songs

that elicited the perfect

response from them.

And after that,

the deluge followed.

It sent the signal out

to everybody

that you can all

write your own song,

get a slice of the action.

Within a year or two,

all bands were writing,

or having a crack at it.

It wasn't only

the extraordinary sound

of The Beatles or the unique

talents of Lennon and McCartney

that were revolutionizing

popular music.

As they came to dominate

the charts in 1963,

their string of hit records

transformed the

commercial fortunes

of the British record

industry itself.

As The Beatles

became more popular,

and every record seemed

to sell more and more,

you had a revolution in the

British record industry,

just in terms of sales.

They'd never seen

anything like this,

both in the amount of sales

The Beatles would hang around

and the how long

in the charts, for months

and months and months.

In addition to that,

there was the rolling impact

of hit after hit after hit,

that never let the quality drop.

If anything, the

quality increased,

from Please Please

Me to From Me to You,

which was a little more

downbeat but was no less wily.

And then between the eyes:

She Loves You,

which explodes out of

the radio to this day.

♪ She loves you,

yeah, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ She loves you,

yeah, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ She loves you,

yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ You think you've

lost your love ♪

♪ Well, I saw her

yesterday... ♪

People like Cliff

and Billy Fury and Elvis,

they were selling quite

substantial amounts of

records per se, but

by the beginning of 1963

when Please Please Me

and From Me to You

and the Please Please Me


they were selling vast

amounts of records.

No one had seen

anything like this

in the pop industry before.

This was suddenly a

happening industry

that not only young people

were taking notice of it,

but the bean counters too.

So you had everyone scouring

Birmingham for The Moody Blues,

The Hollies in Manchester.

And Liverpool of course,

all the scouts were up there

looking for the next Beatles.

Everyone wanted a

slice of the action

because they'd revolutionized

the music industry

in just a matter

of months in 1963.


the group's impact

was not merely confined

to the musical world.

They also both represented

and inspired a seismic shift

at the very heart

of British society.

How these four young

working class Liverpudlians

managed to spearhead

such a change

lie in The Beatles,'

and the country's, past.

In the two centuries before

the Second World War,

the United Kingdom had led

the Industrial Revolution

and had ruled over the

greatest Empire on earth.

One of the foundations

behind this superpower

was its class system,

which both divided and

ordered its citizens.

After emerging victorious

from war in 1945,

the elite class in this system,

known as the Establishment,

which included the monarchy,

the aristocracy, and the heads

of all the major institutions

governing society,

immediately tried to

reinforce their power,

and this chain of

command would once again

shape life in Britain

during the post-war years.

Britain was a very

class-ridden society.

We were a nation of

subjects, not citizens.

And as long as you do

have a royal family

and a set of lords and ladies,

the whole hierarchy

of privilege,

then obviously someone's

going to be at the bottom.

After the war,

the Establishment obviously

tried to reassert itself.

So you still had the old

Christian values, for instance.

Nothing happened on a Sunday.

Even children's

swings in the parks

were chained up on Sundays.

The '60s really

was the first time

that anyone kicked a hole

in any of that

and started to challenge all

of these traditional


group of middle class people,

Really, it was the same

who assumed they had the right

to tell everybody how to live,

were still very much in power.


Britain's power was waning

and its empire slowly crumbling.

Almost bankrupt as a result

of its war effort,

the years of hardship

that followed

saw the entire country suffer.

The North of England in

particular struggled to recover,

port city of Liverpool,

and the once dominant

heavily targeted by

German air raids,

was beset by widespread damage

and disappearing industry.

During the 19th century,

the North developed this

proud sense of itself.

The port of Liverpool was the

greatest port in the world

because England was the

greatest commercial nation

in the world and most things

came in and out there.

But over the course

of the 20th century,

England went through

a phenomenon that

is now very familiar

to Americans of the

late 20th century,

which is the decline

of industrialization,

the decline of manufacturing.

By the 1940s, it was very clear

that Liverpool was in decline.

As a result, The Beatles'

generation grew up in this place

that was filled with the

emblems of imperial might

but which was becoming a

very dire place to live

in many ways.

Everywhere there was a debris.

The streets were full

of bombed buildings.

All the kids used to play

in the buildings

and deserted places.

The debris was still going

20 or 30 years later.

There was no money about,

and it was very hard.

What did young people have in

Liverpool to look forward to?

Everything was closing down.

All the factories

were closing down.

It was pretty tough times

in Liverpool in those days.

And it was

within this stark landscape

that The Beatles grew up.

The band's founder and

eldest member, John Lennon,

was the product of a broken home

and was raised by

his aunt and uncle

in a fairly affluent

area of the city.

His future bandmates,

Paul McCartney and

George Harrison, however,

class neighborhoods.

both came from working

Despite the dereliction

surrounding them

and the hard times in

which they were raised,

the future prospects of all

three were given a boost

by a new educational initiative

that saw the brightest children

enrolled in grammar schools,

whatever their

financial background.

John Lennon, Paul

McCartney and George Harrison

took an examination when

they were 11 years old

that essentially

certified them as clever.

And as a result of passing

what was called the 11+ exam,

that meant they were eligible

to go to grammar schools.

Grammar schools were

designed to educate children

in order to go on to some

form of higher education.

What this meant was that

at a relatively early age,

at the age of 11,

particularly Paul McCartney

and George Harrison,

truly working class.

whose origins were

John Lennon was a

bit more complicated.

John was a little

betwixt and between.

But in the case of both Paul

McCartney and George Harrison,

at the age of 11, they

were somewhat isolated

from the world of

the housing estates

that they had grown up on.

Every day they took the bus

into the center of Liverpool

to go to a place called

the Liverpool Institute

and they were essentially marked

and educated from the age of 11

to transcend their

working class origins.

With far better

schooling than their parents,

these future Beatles

were a new breed,

raised within the proud

Liverpudlian working class,

yet unfazed by the educated

elites supposedly above them.

And with the coming of

rock and roll in 1956,

a musical form exploded that

spoke directly to their youth

and their sense of difference.

It was the following year

that John Lennon

met Paul McCartney

and invited him to join

his band The Quarrymen,

with George Harrison

joining shortly there after.

All around them in Liverpool

a new phenomenon was finding

its own rebellious voice:

the teenagers had arrived.

The '50s became the era

when teenagers really

came into their own.

We were together in

our love of the music.

Up until that time a young

lad would be taken to the pub

for his first pint, when he

turned of age, by his dad.

He'd dress like his dad.

He'd go into the

union of his dad

and he'd go in the

same work as his dad.

With the girls, she

was in the kitchen

learning how to

make the breakfast,

all the rest of it.

do the cleaning,

But suddenly the youngsters

were now earning money

and they wanted to

spend it their way

and do their things and

not be told what to do.

A generation

gap was opening up

and this would dominate

cultural life in Britain

across the next decade.

And while rock and roll


with young working

class Britons,

other American influences,

from the Beat poets

to jazz and blues,

were embraced by

middle class teenagers.

If the future Beatles were at

heart rock and roll rebels,

none of them more embodied

this than John Lennon.

But having failed

his exams in 1957,

he found a place at the

Liverpool College of Art,

where he was thrown

into an unfamiliar,

Bohemian student culture.

Although this would prove

vital in expanding his talents,

here Lennon was an outsider.

I first met John Lennon

at the College of Art.

I was sitting down

in the canteen.

Suddenly I noticed

this guy walk past.

And I thought, what's

he dressed up like?

He was dressed almost

like a teddy boy,

in a completely

unconventional type of dress

compared to all

the other students.

I looked round and everyone

was wearing duffle coats

and turtleneck sweaters.

I thought, oh, they're

all wearing the same,

they're all conventional.

He's the rebel.

He's the one who's different.

I must get to know him.

If you were in art

school in the 1950s

you would have been exposed

to the intellectual radicalism

and rebellion of figures

like Jack Kerouac and

the Beat generation

who were anti-established

religion, pro self-expression

anti any kind of

Establishment repression.

And the angry young men

of theater,

John Osborne, Arnold Wesker..

these guys were angry,

but they were clever.

They found a way of

directing their anger,

which may well have

been a personal angst,

to the outside world

but when it's directed

it can create a great articulate

voice of a generation,

if you like.

Nine hundred and fifty-four...

nine hundred

and fifty-bloody-five,

I could get through in half

the time if I went like a bull,

but they'd only slash me wages,

so they can get stuffed.

Don't let the bastards

grind you down,

that's one thing I've learned.

would have been very appealing

This sort of influence

to someone like John Lennon

who was himself an

angry young man,

for all kinds of

personal reasons.

But if you could be

an angry young man

and thoughtful with it,

then that's very appealing.


the summer of 1960,

the school days of John Lennon,

Paul McCartney and George

Harrison were over.

Yet they were quickly thrust

of another kind.

into an education

In August, the band, now

calling itself The Beatles,

headed for a season of shows

in the vibrant

German city Hamburg,

and over the following year

it was here that they

earned their stripes

as a rock and roll band.

Upon their return to

Liverpool in 1961,

they quickly rose to the very

top of the city's music scene.

isolated in the North,

Yet they were

and the rest of the country

paid little attention.

I started writing to

papers like The Daily Mail

saying what is

happening in Liverpool

is like New Orleans at

the turn of the century,

but with rock and roll

instead of jazz.

Of course, no one

was interested.

So I decided to do it myself

and created Mersey Beat

and of course my friends,

John and the group he

formed, The Beatles,

were the main people

I wrote about.

With a teenage

audience hungry for information

about this new rock

and roll scene,

Bill Harry's Mersey Beat music

paper proved a huge success

in the North of England.

Celebrating The Beatles

in almost every issue,

it brought them to the attention

of one of its contributors,

local businessman Brian Epstein.

The manager of a

Liverpool music store,

through Bill Harry, Epstein

arranged to see the band play

at the city's

legendary Cavern Club

and was blown away

by their performance.

He immediately offered

to manage the band

and by January 1962,

a contract was signed.

Wary of the controlling approach

of managers like Larry Parnes,

Epstein was still conscious

of the unwritten rules

of the British

entertainment industry.

If The Beatles were going

to change the world,

they'd first have to

change their look.

What I think he

had was the instinct

to realize the general

overall pattern

of how things worked

in this country.

They were the savage

young Beatles

dressed in black leather

roll to prostitutes,

and playing rock and

gangsters and all the rest

of it in Hamburg,

taking drugs

and all the rest of it.

They were the savage

young Beatles.

They would never

have been accepted

by the established media.

And The Beatles'

breakthrough in early 1963

confirmed that Epstein's

instincts were spot on.

He had successfully smuggled

a unique band of rebels

into the heart of

the mainstream.

Yet unlike the

controlling managers

that dominated the British

entertainment world,

he then simply set them loose.

From the moment they

soared to the top

of the British charts,

the press, radio interviewers

and television presenters

came face to face

with The Beatles,

and these quick-witted,


and very modern young men

chose to play the game

by their own rules.

In the beginning, The

Beatles' behavior with the press

was the most revolutionary

thing about it.

Nobody of their age group,

and to a certain extent,

of their background,

had ever behaved this way

with reporters before.

Do you know, you

look like Matt Monro?

Give us "Russia with Love."

Thanks, Boys.

The Beatles were

just audacious.

When they were

being interviewed,

they kind of turned the tables.

When Adam Faith or someone like

that was interviewed before,

it was very much a master

and servant kind of thing.

Cliff, what sort

of tour did you have?

I can honestly say it's been

probably the most pleasurable

one we've had for some time,

just the audiences,

mainly because, not

but because we've

had a few hours off,

we've been swimming

and sunbathing.

The Beatles just

ripped into that,

and almost ridiculed

the whole thing,

turned the whole thing

into a Marx Brothers farce,

which was fantastic.

I hear the four of you

are going to be millionaires

by the end of the year.

Oh, that's nice.

Have you got time to

actually spend this money?

What money? He said.

Doesn't he give any to you?


Have you seen that car of his?

It was very, very

close to the way groups

of male adolescents

interacted with one another

as a matter of course.

This is what teenage boys do.

They try to top one another.

They try to cut one another

down, all this sort of thing.

nerve to take this thing

The Beatles simply had the

and to perform it in front

of microphones and cameras.

John, we hear there's a rumor

in The News of The Beatles paper

that you might be

leaving the group.

Rubbish, I'm contracted.

I've been trying to

get out for years.

You've been

writing some poetry.

What paper?

A paper called

The News of The Beatles.

Do you want to see it?

Never heard of it.


Must be American.

Part of their success

came from the fact

that they were not plastic.

They were authentic.

They came out of a

fairly tough city.

They were just being themselves

and that was astonishing.

That was new to actually

be yourself, it was new.

By presenting

themselves genuinely,

The Beatles managed to

highlight the mannered,

stilted exterior of

British cultural life

at a time when it was already

showing signs of weakness.

Polite society's attitude

to all forms of behavior,

in particular sex,

had been prudish and

stuffy for centuries,

but by the early 1960s

things were changing.

At the beginning of the decade

the novel Lady

Chatterley's Lover

was successfully published.

Withheld from the general

public since the late 1920s,

this erotic tale of love

across the class divide

became a phenomenon

upon its release,

quickly selling over

three million copies.

At the same time,

a scandal erupted

at the very heart of the

British Establishment,

with the exposure

of an illicit affair

and a 19-year-old model.

between politician John Profumo

The uptight sexual

attitudes of the British

were being confronted in public.

And then Beatlemania happened.

By the summer of 1963, the

band's overwhelming effect

on teenage girls was becoming

a nationwide epidemic.

Their critics warned

that the Liverpudlians

had unleashed a wave

of sexual frenzy

in their female audience.

Yet the liberation that The

Beatles offered these girls

was more complicated

than it first appeared.

What everybody

wanted to think,

and also didn't want to think,

was this was somehow

all about eroticism,

this was all about sex,

and that what was going on here

was that these young women

were having something

that looked like it

simulated a sexual experience

in response to the sight

and sound of The Beatles.

talked and written about

Therefore, it was always

in the Freudian

terms of hysteria,

which of course is

a sexually charged term also.

Were these girls orgasmic?

Was this orgasmic?

That's not what was going on.

With rock

and roll in the 1950s,

that was a catalyst

for a lot of young men

finding a reason to be

something other than a version

of their dad when they

became adolescents.

It wasn't necessarily

fabulously articulate

to dress as a teddy boy and

be a bit rowdy on the street,

but at least it was

finding an identity.

I think for a young female,

it wasn't quite as


Something like Beatlemania,

the screaming that

surrounded The Beatles,

it's quite tempting

to interpret it

as a sort of howl of frustration

their own identity,

as they try and find

and it's as

inarticulate, in a way,

as teddy boys

rampaging in cinemas.


you deliberately try

and create this

screaming reaction?

No, we just arrive

at the theater,

and they're always

there waiting.

Whenever we're doing a show,

the police always come and say,

"Don't look out the window,

'cause you excite them."

These girls were

controlling public space,

and nobody could do

anything about it.

It's a perfect example of what

we would call bad behavior.

Screaming, yelling,

weeping in public.

This is bad behavior

in one way or another.

Yet, it was sanctioned,

not by the authorities,

but by The Beatles themselves.

phenomenon was unstoppable.

The Beatles

At the end of August,

the single She Loves You

became the fastest

selling record

that had ever been

released in the UK.

In less than a year, the

band's success outstripped

that of any artist

who had preceded them.

And the final stage in

their conquest of Britain

came on November 4th, 1963,

when for the first time The

Beatles came face to face

with the highest order

of the Establishment,

the royal family.

The occasion unleashed

the rock and roll rebel

in John Lennon, who saw

in the night's performance

an opportunity too

good to pass up.

John, In

this Royal Variety Show,

when you're appearing

before royalty,

your language has got to be

pretty good, obviously.

Ted Heath saying

This thing about

that he couldn't distinguish..

I can't understand that.

The Queen's English...

I can't understand Teddy

saying that at all, really.

I'm not going to vote for Ted.


you're not going

to change your act,

just for the..

Ah no, like, we'll keep the

same kind of thing, won't we?

Oh aye, yes.

Yeah, that's right.

ambivalent relationship with how

Lennon always had an

the Entertainment Establishment

were cozying up to The Beatles.

On the one hand,

the professional in

him loved the fact

that they were being

fantastically successful.

But the rebel in him

found it all hard to take.

So on the occasion of the

Royal Command Performance,

he teased Brian

Epstein by suggesting

swear in front of the Queen.

that he was going to go up and

But in the end, his

professionalism won out.

He managed to create a

little bit of subversion,

but it was very carefully

thought through.

Thank you.

For our last number, I'd

like to ask your help.

Would the people in the

cheaper seats clap your hands?

And the rest of you, if you

just rattle your jewelry.

And this is like a moment

of insurrection, it felt like.

But the thing is it wasn't

quite as radical perhaps

because you look at Lennon's

face after he says it

and he looks as if he's

just admitted to his mum

that he's messed himself,

or something like that!

It was something

really humble pie.

He felt quite sheepish.

But no one else but John

Lennon would come out

and even have the

gall to say that.

a kind of revolutionary,

What may have seemed

insurrectionary moment by

saying, rattle your jewelry,

in a really class driven moment,

was actually punctured

by this sense

that The Beatles were nice boys

and they can get

away with anything.

With the youth

of Britain in their thrall,

The Beatles headed out

to new territories,

traveling to Scandinavia

at the close of the year

and then on to France.

The domestic pop scene

that they left behind

had been transformed

by their success,

and from Liverpudlian acts

like Gerry and the Pacemakers

to London's The Rolling Stones,

new groups were emerging

on an almost weekly basis

to battle it out in the

clubs and on the charts.

The Beatles were

moving on, however,

with manager Brian

Epstein's sights set firmly

of all: America.

on the largest territory


forward to this American trip,

have you had any

reaction over there?

Have you got any

fan clubs going?

There's one

supposedly started.

They're getting quite

a good response.

12,000 letters a day.

But The Beatle movement's

going over there?

Yeah, it can even be

a Beatle booster, Folks.

I must tell you, by the

way, that Detroit University

have got a Stamp out

The Beatles movement.

Oh yeah?

Ah, no.

We're going to

stamp out Detroit.

They think your

haircuts are un-American.

Well, that's very

observant of them

because we aren't

American actually.

There was always a thing

of, what happens next?

Is The Beatles' bubble

is going to burst?

But it never did.

It just kept going on.


Britain was suffering

a particularly harsh

winter when The Beatles

had first set the charts

alight in early 1963,

when their single I

Want to Hold Your Hand

reached America

the following year,

it entered a nation grappling

with far greater misfortunes.

Having emerged from

the Second World War

as one of the world's

two superpowers,

the following decade

had been dominated

by the country's

hostile relationship

with the Soviet Union

and the threat of

a full blown nuclear war.

But Americans

themselves were enjoying

the fruits of

a flourishing economy,

culture had developed

a strong consumer

and domestic confidence

was running high.

In 1960, President John

F. Kennedy came to office,

a young, charismatic politician

who embodied this new confidence

and who promised a bright

and optimistic future.

My fellow citizens

of the world,

ask not what America

will do for you,

but what together we can

do for the freedom of man.

later, in November 1963,

Three years

his assassination shook

the country to its core.

There was this injection

of energy into American life

that he represented.

He was young, he was handsome.

It represented such a marked

change from Dwight Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a carry-over

from World War II.

Obviously, he was a war hero.

He was an extension of that

generation into modern America.

was modern America.

But John Kennedy

All of the optimism

and youthfulness.

The baby boom was going on.

You know, it was kind of

epitomized by John Kennedy.

And the Kennedy

assassination just,

it just ended that.

The Beatles

represented, also, youth,

just as John Kennedy did,

and wit and intelligence.

Certainly, for young people

it turned things

around immediately.

The Beatles just lit America up.

I'm sure it could have

been something else.

I'm sure that some other joyful

manifestation of something

could have occurred, but

what occurred was a song.

And it's really

important to realize

in Britain,

The Beatles' personalities,

their repartee, their

whole public performance

was a critical part of the

way they came to the attention

of the British public.

In America, it was a song.

♪ Oh yeah I tell you somethin'

♪ I think you'll understand

♪ When I say that somethin'

♪ I want to hold your hand ♪

It was the perfect vehicle

to come into this traumatized

national atmosphere.

What is the dominant

quality of the sound

of John Lennon and Paul

McCartney signing together?

Joy, joy in performance,

joy in listening to

one another's voices,

reinforcement is going on here.

joy in whatever kind of

That's painting with

really broad strokes.

There's nothing

subtle about that.

There is no

question The Beatles

changed everything immediately.

I Want to Hold Your Hand

made a gigantic impact.

Then of course the

flood gates opened,

not only with one great

Beatles' song after another,

but the British Invasion.

I mean, The Beatles just

knocked the door down.

What The

Beatles had done to Britain

they were now doing to America.

Released at the close of

1963, within two months

I Want to Hold Your Hand had

sold more than a million copies

and became the band's first

number one single in the US.

A week after they

topped the charts,

John, Paul, George and

Ringo crossed the Atlantic

and arrived in New York City

screaming teenage fans.

to greet a new set of

They were also met by

members of the press

keen to understand this

foreign phenomenon,

and the group introduced them

to their unique brand

of informal humor,

as rare in America as

it had been in Britain.

There's no question

that the way they dealt

with the press was original.

It was quite clear that they

were not like anything else.

How smart they really

were, how funny they were!

John and Paul in particular

were extremely intelligent,

articulate, original people.

And George was also

a very droll guy.

And Ringo was sort

of a natural clown.

Who was just that quick,

that smart,

who was a pop star?

I must be forgetting somebody,

but damned if I can

think of who it would be.

as funny records or as music?

Do you think of your records

No, we think that

it's rather peculiar.

Do you feel they're musical?

Obviously they're musical,

because it's music, isn't it?

Instruments make music.

It's a record.

It's musical.

You know: ♪ Bom ♪

It's music, isn't it?

♪ Bom ♪

That's music too.

He's good.

He knows music.

All right, but

what do you call it?

Do you call it rock and roll?

We try not to define it.

We've got so many wrong

classifications of it.

It's no use, we

just call it music.

Even if you don't.

With a question mark?


With a question mark?


With an exclamation mark.

The underlying message

of The Beatles' wit

was about a youth movement

in their press conferences

that wasn't going to be

determined by old people.

From the point of

The Beatles' arrival,

they completely reinvented

how culture works.

Before that everything..

fashion, movies, music..

it all was top down.

It all was what grown-ups liked,

and then it filtered

down to the kids.

After a year or two,

suddenly it was young people

who were determining everything.

That started with The Beatles.

Having broken

all previous sales records

in Britain the year beforehand,

by April 1964, the band made

Billboard Hot 100 history

by becoming the only act ever

to occupy the first five

positions on the chart.

The Four Mop-Tops were now

revolutionizing popular music

in America too,

and Beatlemania spread like

wildfire throughout the country.

And then, in July,

following the time-honored

career trajectory

of all post-war

popular entertainers,

the band starred in their

first full-length feature film.

Yet A Hard Day's Night

was, unsurprisingly,

unlike anything that

had preceded it.

♪ It's been a hard day's night

♪ And I been working

like a dog ♪

♪ It's been a hard day's

night... ♪

A Hard Day's Night

Music movies before

were profit-making ventures

intended exclusively

for the teen audience

of whatever artist

happened to be in now.

A Hard Day's Night

just flipped that.

They took what was a toss-off

form, the rock movie,

and made it something great.

Directed by

American Richard Lester,

the film created an

entirely new language

for rock and roll cinema.

Previously, musicians had

all made their transition

to the big screen playing

fictional characters

created by screenwriters.

In A Hard Day's Night, however,

The Beatles played

themselves in a comedy

inspired by their own

experiences of fame.

It was both a commercial

and a critical phenomenon.

They're playing themselves

in a fictional film.

That didn't happen.

the early career of The Beatles

So much of what happened in

hadn't really happened before.

They were breaking through

on so many different levels.

Tell me, how did

you find America?

Turn left at Greenland.

Has success changed your life?


I'd like to keep Britain tidy.

Are you a mod or a rocker?

No, I'm a mocker.

Have you any hobbies?

As I see it, it's

really A Hard Day's Night

that establishes them as

something completely new

and interesting beyond

your wildest imaginings.

I don't snore.

You do, repeatedly.

Do I snore, John?

Yeah, you're

a window rattler, Son.

That's just your opinion.

Do I snore, Paul?

With a trombone

hooter like yours

it would be unnatural

if you didn't.

mock the afflicted.

No, Paulie, don't

Ah, come off it.

It's only a joke.

It may be a joke,

but it's his nose.

He can't help having

a hideous great hooter,

and a poor little head

trembling under

the weight of it.

This was not the

rock and roll movie

that you were expecting

to see, not at all.

And although their wit,

they were always funny

it had been clear

on the microphone,

its irreverence

and its irreverence

about themselves

was just completely


And, of course, it just made

them seem even more godlike.


while The Beatles

embarked on a substantial US

tour in the summer of '64,

back in Britain

the whole country

was evolving in their wake.

Following the sex scandals

of the previous year,

the nation had turned

against the Establishment

and voted in the

Labor government

of new Prime Minister

Harold Wilson,

a man who seemed to

represent the voice

of a younger, more

progressive United Kingdom.

Harold Wilson actually became

leader of the Labor party

The Beatles were having

around the same time that

the first stirrings

of huge success.

He was northern.

Let's not forget that.

So this was again part of

this big northern powerhouse.

You had The Beatles on

the popular culture sense,

and then you had Harold Wilson

who was reflecting modernity

in the political sense.

We're thrusting

into a new world.

We were behind

Europe in the '50s.

The Tories had let us down.

He wanted to:

Let's get modern.

Like the Italians, like the

French, like the Germans,

let's get working

and let's make everyone enjoy

the fruits of the success.

And central to this new,

progressive Britain

was its youth.

The staggering

international success

of the homegrown pop scene

had injected the younger

generation with confidence,

country's growing prosperity,

and, boosted by the

a new consumer culture emerged.

Fresh from the breeding

grounds of the art colleges,

the modern ideas

of Britain's budding

designers were unleashed.

This was nowhere more

apparent than in fashion,

and its nerve center in London's

bustling Carnaby Street.

This was the first time that

young people had enough money

to buy records, to buy clothes,

to have their hair cut.

Out of that almost immediately

came a separate youth market.

Carnaby Street thrived.

Up until that point,

when a girl left school,

she immediately began

dressing like her mother.

whereas someone like Mary Quant

made dresses you could run in,

you could dance in and do

stuff that young people do.

And, of course, that

transformed the whole face

of British fashion.

Everything felt

modern, new, fresh.

Everywhere you looked the world

started to look different.

The black and white of the

early Beatles and pre-Beatles,

even with The Beatles

all in black and white,

even A Hard Day's Night

was in black and white.

Within a year, the colors

started to really emerge,

the green shoots

of a new culture.

Although they

had played the central role

in cultivating this

new cultural landscape,

by late 1964, The Beatles

themselves were growing weary

of their Eight Days a Week fame.

In an attempt to escape

from Beatlemania,

both John Lennon

and George Harrison

had moved to rural Surrey,

30 miles from the

center of London,

and Ringo Starr would join

them there the following year.

In December, Beatles For Sale,

the band's fourth studio

album, was released,

signs of fatigue.

and it clearly showed

You only have to

look at the cover.

These are young men

exhausted really

by a couple of years

of Beatlemania.

It was just obvious that

they were becoming worn out,

and that the incredible

appeal of early fame,

which they just rode that

like a wonderful wave,

and you can see and feel the joy

in the records and

the interviews.

By Beatles for Sale, it's

losing its luster quite quickly.

Yet the onward

march of youth culture

would soon revive the band.

While the kaleidoscopic

colors of Carnaby Street

were in full bloom,

a more experimental

subculture was developing

in West London, the

leaders of which

would soon cross paths

with The Beatles.

Inspired by avant-garde

literature, art and music,

this loose group of

artists and artisans

lacked a sense of community.

In June 1965, however,

Barry Miles, the manager

of renowned independent

bookshop Better Books,

arranged a momentous poetry

event at London's Albert Hall,

featuring Allen Ginsberg

and other leading

American Beat writers.

It was of huge significance,

uniting the various

creative clans


of an emerging British

The big poetry reading

at the Albert Hall in '65

and was I think the

first time a constituency

was seen in London.

Up until that point the

actors and the poets

and the filmmakers and the

people who ran boutiques,

none of them knew each other.

At this event,

which was basically

a Beat generation reading

of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence

Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso,

all of these people

came together

into the Albert Hall,

7,000 people.

The whole thing

was a giant party,

really like the first mass

networking session, I suppose.


this pivotal event

that he had helped organize,

Miles met John Dunbar,

an artist friendly

with both Allen Ginsberg

and Gregory Corso

young singer Marianne Faithful.

and who had recently married

Together, they

planned a new center

for underground activities,

the Indica Bookshop and Gallery,

and this would

bring Miles directly

into The Beatles' world.

We went along

to the Albert Hall

and a friend called

Paolo Leone went,

"Oh, you should meet this guy."

Miles worked at Better

Books at that point.

So we got chatting.

I don't know how many people

it holds, the Albert Hall,

couple of thousand,

5,000, I don't know.

Anyway, we kind of thought,

everybody's paid a quid

to see this,

so maybe we could do a shop.

We decided to combine forces

and start a bookshop

art gallery combined.

His best friend was a

guy called Peter Asher

who at that point was

in Peter and Gordon,

a little rock and folk duo

who had number

one hits, in fact,

in Britain and

America and Japan.

And so Peter had some money,

so naturally we looked to Peter

to finance this venture.

Consequently, we

started a company

called Miles, Asher

and Dunbar, MAD.

I got to know Peter, of

course, through this.

He was living at home

with his parents.

his sister Jane Asher.

Also living at home was

Jane was a TV personality.

She interviewed people.

She was a child star in films

and did a lot on the radio.

Also living there was

Jane Asher's boyfriend

who was Paul McCartney,

who was living on the top floor

in a little attic room

next to Peter's room.

So there was this

extraordinary household

that I got introduced to.

up the bookshop,

And when I was setting

we had all the books

delivered to the basement

because we hadn't

found any premises yet.

Obviously, through that I

got to know Paul as well.

He would come in late at

night, browse through the books

and just leave me a note

saying what he'd taken.

So he was my first customer,

in fact, in the bookshop.

When we did find some premises,

he helped put up the

shelves and paint the walls,

so he was very, very involved

with the whole project.

It was wonderful

to get to know him.

While his

bandmates had fled London

in favor of the

quiet suburban life,

through his contact with

the progressive art world,

Paul McCartney soon became the

most cultured of The Beatles.

Where John Lennon had

been married for years

and was raising a young son,

with girlfriend Patti Boyd

George Harrison had moved in

and Ringo Starr was a newlywed,

McCartney was actively

pursuing fresh sounds

and fresh concepts, with Miles

as his avant-garde guide.

In his own words,

he used to go round London

with his antenna out.

One day he would go to

see a John Cage concert

or Luciano Berio or

some electronic music.

Then the next day he would

go to see Tessie O'Shea

at the Talk of the Town,

or some torch singer

down at The Blue Angel.

It was all being sucked in.

McCartney was very much

the culturally aware Beatle

about town, while the others

went into a slightly

cozier existence

in the stockbroker belt.

He was still curious,

he was still hungry

for any stimulation.

It's around this time,

1965, 1966,

begins to drive The Beatles.

that McCartney really

He hung around in

London, being stimulated,

and bringing all of that

back to The Beatles' table

and giving them, continuing

to give them an artistic edge.

That artistic

edge would prove unmistakable

when The Beatles headed

to the studio in mid-1965

to record the album Rubber Soul.

Across the previous year,

the wave of bands inspired

by The Beatles' example

up with the Liverpudlians,

had not only begun to catch

but in some cases

threatened to overtake them.

Following Lennon and

McCartney's lead,

the Rolling Stones had

managed to break America

and had begun to

write their own hits.

Folk icon Bob Dylan

had gone electric

and transformed into the

preeminent poet of rock,

and new bands were emerging,

from The Who to The Byrds,

introducing fresh

sounds and perspectives.

Yet The Beatles were ready

to pave the way once again.

In pursuit of total

creative control,

with Rubber Soul, producer

George Martin booked the band

into Abbey Road Studios

for an entire month,

turning conventional

recording rules on their head.

Before Rubber Soul,

a professional recording day

was overseen by recording

engineers in white coats.

the morning, a break for lunch,

And there was three hours in

and three hours

in the afternoon.

And that was it.

That was your recording day.

When Rubber Soul came along,

they had enough clout to say,

we want a bit more

flexibility than that.

We might want to stay on

and record into the night.

They invented the idea

of treating a record album

as if it were a work of art.

anything that's worthwhile.

It takes time to do

So you had this new idea,

the idea of the recording studio

as compositional laboratory.

This was this incredible

real revolution,

not just how to make records,

but how to make music.

♪ There are places I

remember... ♪

Rubber Soul looks like

the moment when pop music

could become popular art.

The whole album had a sense of

being an artistic statement.

of The Beach Boys said,

Brian Wilson himself

when I heard Rubber Soul

I knew that's how good

pop records could be.

They could be a

whole artistic world.

That's how good Rubber Soul was.

♪ Is there anybody going

to listen to my story ♪

♪ All about the girl

who came to stay ♪

♪ She's the kind of girl

♪ You want so much

it makes you sorry ♪

♪ Still you don't

regret a single day ♪

♪ Ah, girl

♪ Girl, girl ... ♪

John Lennon is suddenly

writing lyrics like:

"Was she told when she was young

"that pain would

lead to pleasure?

"Did she understand

it when they said

"that a man must break his back

to earn his day of leisure?

Will she still believe

it when he's dead?"

And that's in

a song called Girl.

Those aren't pop song lyrics.

a very different feel.

That gave Rubber Soul just

♪ Say the word

and you'll be free ♪

♪ Say the word and be like me

♪ Say the word I'm thinking of

♪ Have you heard

the word is love...♪

You could hear that they

were actually writing songs

as artists, not just

as pop performers.

So you had songs like The Word,

which is an extraordinary

song for 1965.

that word is love."

"Say the word and

This is two years before

the Summer of Love.

The despair of Beatles for Sale,

and there they are

now reaching out

for something that they've

picked up on something else.


just as Rubber Soul

reestablished the band's

musical superiority,

the four young Northern radicals

were officially recognized

by the British Establishment.

the highest accolades

Having already received

from the entertainment world,

in October 1965

they were invited to Buckingham

Palace to meet the Queen.

Here they would be

anointed as members

of the Most Excellent Order of

the British Empire, or MBEs.

This has been one of the

talents of the Establishment

for a very long time.

In fact, this is what

the MBEs and knighthoods

and all sorts of things

like that were all about.

At a certain point,

renegades need to be

brought into the fold.

But it's at that very

moment that they now,

'cause they were always

importing musical influences,

but they also become a conduit

for imported American influences

in these other fields that

they're getting interested in.

Miles is turning them

onto Ginsberg's poetry.

Robert Fraser is turning them

onto American pop

artists, things like this.

They've become

citizens of the world.

So it's perfectly appropriate

that at that very moment

the British

Establishment should say,

"Time for you to come

to Buckingham Palace

and be certified as members

of the British Empire."

John, had

you met the Queen before?

No, first time.

What did she

think of you in the flesh?

Did she tell you?

No, she's not going

to say either way.

She seemed pleasant

enough to us.

Made us relaxed.


you've got this,

do you feel that you're becoming

part of the Establishment,

as it's so called?

No, don't feel any different.

I still feel just like before.

I feel exactly the same.

You feel exactly the same.

It was a recognition that

the pop world had come of age.

They were the aristocracy

of the pop world,

of pop culture, of

working class culture.

So it was inevitable in a way

that they would be rewarded

in the spirit of

the new democracy.

But also it closed

a chapter, because from then on

they went off and

did it their way

which wasn't the

Establishment's way.

In fact, it was the

beginning of a period

of great antagonism with the

Establishment and pop culture,

and The Beatles, as usual,

were pretty much at

the center of that.

The Beatles'

position at the center

of these new developments

in youth culture

was crucial to their evolution

over the next two years.

With McCartney now

closely affiliated

with key players in London's

underground artistic scene,

and with similar movements in

both New York and Los Angeles

influencing American musicians,

the stage was now set

for more radical ideas

to enter the mainstream.

And as these were developing,

a new drug and a new figurehead

were gaining prominence

on both sides of the Atlantic.

The message is very simple.

Six words.

Turn on, tune in, drop out.


Timothy Leary had emerged

prominent spokesman

in the US as a

for the hallucinogen

LSD, or acid.

Having led psychedelic

experiments at

Harvard University

since the turn of the '60s,

and with Beat poet Allen

Ginsberg a key early supporter,

by 1965 Leary was becoming a

major countercultural figure.

Tim Leary was a psychiatrist,

psychoanalyst, psychotherapist.

He claimed to have

something like seven PhDs.

He was a professor at Harvard

who began working

originally with psilocybin

before he got onto LSD

as a way of treating prisoners

and treating mental illness.

I mean, the thing is

Leary was very much part

of the Establishment.

He'd worked right across the

normal lines of psychiatry.

But, of course, when he started

to take all these things,

he contacted his own self

on a cellular level

an awful lot of this

and he realized that

was gameplaying and rubbish.

So he basically felt that this

was in fact a spiritual key

that he'd been handed

and that his message

really should be

to encourage people to

leave the Establishment

and find themselves

creatively or spiritually.

And the newly

appointed MBEs, The Beatles,

were already on their way

to leaving the Establishment

through hallucinogens.

and rediscovering themselves

John Lennon and George

Harrison had been introduced

to LSD in early 1965, and had

been joined by Ringo Starr

for their second experience

with the drug later that year.

Combined with Paul

McCartney's newfound interest

in experimental art through

his London social circle,

the world's most commercial band

were ready to take a

very unexpected detour.

discover who they were.

They wanted to

They had no real sense of who

they were, I think, anymore.

So they were picking

up the pieces,

putting it together it again.

How the hell did they make sense

of the goldfish bowl life

they'd been thrown into?

From playing at the Casbah

in Liverpool, and the Cavern,

to being feted all

around the world

and just seeing

themselves reflected back,

of them everywhere,

people getting pieces

not knowing really

who they were.

And I think that was the

engagement of pop culture,

represented by The Beatles

with the counterculture,

which was growing in confidence.

And the fact that the two

started to join forces

in London, in San Francisco..

they sparked off each other.

It was

at the close of 1965

that McCartney drew the

ever skeptical Lennon

out of his Surrey sanctuary

and introduced him to the

underground world of Miles

and the Indica

Bookshop and Gallery.

One day, very shortly

after we opened,

Paul McCartney showed

up with John Lennon,

I think it was the first time

John was ever in the shop.

He was looking for

a book by "Nitzske."

I just didn't know who he meant.

It took me maybe half a minute

to figure out it was Nietzsche.

for him to get quite irritated

And that was just enough time

and think I was being this

middle class university type,

putting him down.

And then Paul had

to do his usual role

of sort of calming everybody.

"No, no, he went to art

school just like you.

It's just 'cause you

didn't know how to say it!"

In the meantime,

I remembered we had

only just the day before

had a big shipment

of The Psychedelic

Experience by Tim Leary.

John curled up on

the settee with it.

And literally in Tim

Leary's introduction

before you even get to the text,

it says, turn off

your mind, relax

and drift down the stream,

or however the lines are

that finally showed up

only about a month later

in Tomorrow Never Knows.

This song would be

the most innovative composition

of the band's career to date.

Alongside Lennon's

Leary-inspired lyrics,

Paul McCartney's contributions

to the track were

equally radical.

Having joined Miles at a number

of avant-garde

electronic music events,

the Beatle had begun

enthusiastically working

on his own experimental


using loops of recorded tape.

As The Beatles

entered the studio

to begin producing

Tomorrow Never Knows,

George Martin invited McCartney

to bring these to the sessions.

He had produced a

whole load of them

and brought them into the

studio just in a plastic bag.

They arranged the studio

so that there were

different tape recorders

in different parts of the

Abbey Road studio complex.

And I was in a room

with Peter Asher

quite a long loop

and we were playing

which entailed

holding a jam jar.

The loop went round the jam jar,

then past the playback

head and then back over.

We had to keep it in tension.

I think there were eight

or maybe even 10 of us

around the building

all standing holding

pencils or jam jars.

And all of this information

was going into the deck.

there with his headphones.

George Martin was just sitting

Whatever he did, of course,

it was impossible

to ever reproduce.

That was it.

That was the master as

soon as he pressed "record."

When I heard the playback,

it was astonishing actually.

I thought, "Good God,

this is the future."

♪ Turn off your mind,

relax, and float downstream ♪

♪ It is not dying,

it is not dying... ♪

The studio was an instrument.

this almost invisible console

Once upon a time, it was just

that was just there

to absorb what was being

played on the floor.

Now it was actually being

used as an instrument.

And it was more important

than individual

instruments, in a way.

This was unprecedented, and

the other interesting thing

about Tomorrow Never Knows,

it was the first

recording for Revolver.

It was done in April '66.

I mean, this is extraordinary.

Tomorrow Never Knows

is undoubtedly the most

psychedelic song recorded

at that period.

There's nothing else like it.

I mean, the word

psychedelic wasn't really

in popular parlance at all.

It was the title of a book

that John got from

Indica Gallery.

Tomorrow Never Knows

is definitely the world's

first psychedelic track.

The interesting

thing is, of course,

The Beatles were not only the

world's most commercial band,

but at that point they were also

the world's most experimental

band, which is very unusual.

That became clear

when The Beatles' follow-up

to Rubber Soul, Revolver,

was issued in August 1966.

Alongside Tomorrow Never Knows,

the album's tracks were brimming

with invention and originality.

If Rubber Soul had suggested

that pop music could be art,

Revolver confirmed it.

was The Beatles

Revolver really

moving towards the

fifth dimension.

"She said, she said I know

what it's like to be dead."

The Beatles, Lennon,

singing about

I know what

it's like to be dead.

What the hell is going on?

Well, they've been

partying with The Byrds

on the West Coast and

dropping acid by then.

Drugs, we have a very

negative view on them now

and you can be imprisoned

by them, but in the mid '60s

people felt it was the opposite.

It was to loosen the

chains of imprisonment,

this single view

of who you were.

And then suddenly

you had perspectives,

and with Revolver

you can hear it,

with all the different

production sounds..

it was all altered states

and perspectives.

to turn rock and roll

The idea was basically

into a legitimate art form.

And I think they did it.

So many of the

things they tried,

from feedback and

reverse tapes and sitars,

whatever they did,

all over the world other

bands immediately tried out.

They were tremendous leaders.

Brian Epstein was concerned

that they were going too far

ahead of their fan base.

But they were very,

very sensible,

they always wanted to bring

the fans along with them.

They didn't want to

become some kind of wild,

avant-garde band that only

150 people had heard of.


fears that the band

would start to lose some of

their audience were unfounded

regarding their musical output,

but would prove accurate

in terms of their politics.

With The Beatles' compositions

expressing a more

complex world view,

journalists began to ask them

more significant questions.

In a series of

landmark interviews

for British newspaper

The Evening Standard,

the individual band

members were quizzed

over their thoughts

on current affairs.

Lennon's frank opinions

on Christianity

proved uncontroversial upon

their publication in Britain,

yet when they were

reprinted in America,

the first scandal of

The Beatles' career erupted,

with a single quote

becoming instantly infamous,

"We're more popular

than Jesus now."

The first time anybody

had asked John Lennon

questions about his

life and his philosophy.

And it just passed.. whoosh..


But months later, all

those teenage magazines

just printed that:

"We're bigger than Jesus,"

which caused a lot of problems.

A lot of problems.

Death threats and

records being burnt

and broken and smashed,

and the Ku Klux Klan,

and concerts being canceled.

It was very unpleasant

for everyone.

Well, originally I was

pointing out that fact

in reference to England,

that we meant more to

kids than Jesus did,

or religion, at that time.

I wasn't knocking it

or putting it down.

I was just saying it.

It was a fact.

Lennon's "The Beatles are

more popular than Jesus" line,

which even to me as a kid, I

could see what he was saying.

I mean, he wasn't saying..

It's what he said in his

quote unquote "apology."

"I wasn't saying we're

better than Jesus.

"I wasn't saying it's

good or it's bad.

It's just that it's true."

And to me it was

absolutely true.

It was unquestionable.

There was such a

backlash against that.

It made you aware of

some of the fault lines

in American culture.

Or made you aware once

again that what seemed maybe

like a unified culture,

really wasn't.

And it was harsh.

You know, it was scary.

lines in American society

These fault

had been growing

since the early 1960s,

and where the civil rights

campaigns for racial equality

had most clearly exposed

these divisions

earlier in the decade,

by the mid 1960s

there was no issue more

pressing or more polarizing

than the Vietnam War.

Since the US entered into

the conflict in 1962,

public opposition

it had provoked widespread

and organized protests both

in the US and across Europe.

The underground movement

McCartney had become involved in

had itself emerged from the

early '60s pacifist movement

in the UK, and by the time

of their 1966 US tour,

privately both he

and his bandmates

were opponents of the war.

As they traveled across America,

already battling controversy,

the ever honest Liverpudlians

came under fire once again

absolutely clear to the press.

when they made this position

In 1966, the war was

without any question

much more on people's minds

in America than The Beatles.

Nineteen-sixty-six was the year

the war exploded.

Nineteen-sixty-six was the year

that the number of draftees

more than doubled

in this country.


was also the year

in which the war really got

terrible in Vietnam itself.

It was a bigger, bigger

deal all the time.

There was more

destruction going on.

At the height of American

involvement in Vietnam,

they had 550,000

troops in that country.

I mean, that's a

lot of young people.

There was a draft in

the United States.

The war had come home

in a big way.

It wasn't an abstract

issue in any regard.

And youth representatives

like The Beatles,

people who were part

of youth culture,

were expected to

take a stand on it.

It seems to me

you've always been successful

because you've been outspoken

and direct and forthright

and all this sort of thing.

Does it seem a bit hard to you

that people are now knocking

you for this very thing?

Yes, Richard.

It seems hard.

It seems very hard.

But you know, free speech.

But is it possible

just to say what you think

all the time? What about

14-year-old teenagers

who think you're

absolutely marvelous

and can't bear to be hurt?

When we say anything

like that, we don't say it,

as older people seem to

think, to be offensive.

We mean it helpfully, you know.

And if it's wrong what

we say, okay, it's wrong.

wrong about that one.

People can say you're

But in many cases, we

believe it's right.

We're quite serious about it.

Do you mind

being asked questions?

For example, in America

people keep asking you

questions about Vietnam.

Does this seem useful?

Well, I don't know.

If you can say

that war's no good

and a few people believe

you, then it may be good.

You can't say it too much,

though, that's the trouble.

It seems a bit

silly to be in America

and for none of them

to mention Vietnam

as if nothing was happening.

They were the first band

to be asked about politics,

about Vietnam, about a whole

number of social issues.

And in fact, I mean,

although Dylan came

a little bit before,

as far as I know, he never

once ever came out in public

against the Vietnam War.

So maybe The Beatles

were the first there,

in terms of a very

well-known band.

Well, it cost them a lot.

There were then teenage girls

in the South, in the Midwest,

who didn't like

The Beatles anymore.

I think The Beatles

are a real talented group,

but I think they need

to watch what they say,

because they're in

such a position

that a lot of teenagers

really think of them

as something really big.

When they say things like that

some teenagers are going to

just believe anything they say.

In 1965, The Beatles

were universally beloved.

Nobody didn't like them.

They were just

wonderful and funny

and creative and unthreatening.

As they became more involved

in the counterculture

and more representative of it,

that belovedness.

they lost a lot of

They helped to move

a lot of people

who might not otherwise

have gone along

with the stuff that happened

in '66 and '67 and '68.

Without any question,

they were inspirational and

influential in that way.

But they also lost

a lot of people.

They became part of what

many, many people in America,

of people in America,

probably a majority

regarded as a disturbing...

loosening of values and morals.

And a political threat.

And at exactly

this point,

The Beatles ceased operating

as a traditional band.

Upon their return from the US,

they announced that they were

abandoning live performance,

with the final show

of the American tour

their last ever paid gig.

And then the most photographed

celebrities in the world

the public eye altogether.

simply disappeared from

Can I have a word?

Are The Beatles going to

go their own ways in 1967?

We could be on

our own or together.

We're always involved with each

other, whatever we're doing.

Could you ever see a time

when you weren't

working together?

I could see us working

not together for a period,

but we'd always get together

for one reason or another.

people for ideas as well,

I mean, you need other

you know,

and we all get along fine.

Rumors of a

break-up began to circulate.

Yet, away from the spotlight,

the four Liverpudlians

were hard at work

on their most ambitious

production to date.

The public would have

to wait for months

before The Beatles reappeared,

and when, in February 1967,

they finally did,

both their image and their sound

had undergone a

startling transformation.

Strawberry Fields of course

was originally intended

as part of the Sgt. Pepper


But the press kept on saying,

"Are The Beatles finished?

"They've disappeared,

they've run out of ideas,"

not realizing that

they were working

on one of their

greatest achievements.

And to me, obviously,

it wasn't unexpected

because, well, I was at

some of the sessions.

But I think to the public

it came as quite a shock.

♪ Let me take you down

♪ 'Cause I'm going

to Strawberry Fields... ♪

"Strawberry Fields Forever"

was something else again.

It was:

The Beatles had gone weird.

That was basically

what people felt.

What is wrong with them?


"Let me take you down

'cause I'm going to

Strawberry Fields."

The voice, it didn't

sound like Lennon.

Well, that's because they'd

slowed the voice down.

Nothing sounded

normal on that record.

The whole production.

Everything was up in the

air, put through effects.

And then there was a video that

was made at the time as well,

shot in Sevenoaks or somewhere,

and it was the strangest thing.

he was disembodied.

You had Ringo as if

They were falling out of trees.

There was nothing

like that at all.

♪ Living is easy

with eyes closed ♪

♪ Misunderstanding all you see

♪ It's getting

hard to be someone ♪

♪ But it all works out

♪ It doesn't matter much to

me... ♪

It had more in common

with Salvador Dali

and the Surrealists and Dada.

All these highfalutin

art kind of ideas,

which was once

the preserve, really,


of the educated elite.

But this is The Beatles now

bringing it to everybody.

The short film for Strawberry

Fields had a seismic impact

because it showed that they

had traveled a distance

that, well, I felt it

kind of incumbent on me

to then travel as a young

person who believed in them.

It was like, "Wow, okay,

this is what's being

asked of me now."

It wasn't just,

"Oh, they look cool."

It was, "All right,

this is the path."

And that

path became even clearer

as the year progressed.

By the turn of 1967,

the counterculture

was gaining momentum,

with huge numbers of youths

gravitating towards

its new Mecca,

San Francisco's

Haight-Ashbury district.

From here, a strong musical

scene was developing,

headed by psychedelic

bands The Grateful Dead

and the Jefferson Airplane,

and word spread of a new

phenomenon: the hippy.

In the UK, the underground's

influence expanded,

with its own newspaper,

The International Times,

a live music club, UFO,

and emerging stars

the Pink Floyd

and the American,

Jimi Hendrix.

Into this blooming

scene of peace, love

and mind-expanding drugs,

came The Beatles' most

ambitious work to date,

one which would not

only capture the essence

of this new sensibility,

but also transform the

record industry once again:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely

Hearts Club Band.

Presented as a work of art,

unifying the album as a whole,

with a single concept

it announced that the age of

the traditional pop single

and the pop band was over.

Sgt. Pepper revolutionized

the record industry.

All of a sudden, albums

sold as much as singles.

Sgt. Pepper sold

in the millions.

On pure business terms, it

was a revolutionary release.

But also it was

revolutionary in terms

record industry know

of letting the

precisely what it could sell.

What you could do is invest

in the finest artistic minds

of a generation and give them

the freedom to make their art,

package it up as an album

and sell it in the millions.

Paul had this idea of,

"We want to get away

"from being the four mop-tops

and The Fab Four.

"So we create this new

name for ourselves.

"We're going to be

a different group.

That'll give us the freedom

to do what the hell we want."

That is the basic concept.

The songs..

many of those songs

could have been on

any of the other albums.

They weren't specific

to that particular one.

But the influence of it

was staggering.

The Beatles were a force

to be reckoned with.

Even The Stones were badly

affected by them at that point.

to deal with them.

Everyone just had

They were like a roadblock.

If you were in the

music business,

you had to deal with

this great big thing

in front of you and get

round it the best you could.

♪ Lucy in the sky

with diamonds ♪

♪ Lucy in the sky

with diamonds ♪

♪ Lucy in the sky

with diamonds ♪

♪ Ah

to a bridge... ♪

♪ Follow her down

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely

Heart Club's Band,

I mean, just the title

itself was a piece of art

and something that

mystified people.

Peter Blake did the cover,

and Peter Blake was the

father of British Pop Art.

Everything about Sgt. Pepper

was an enigma.

The fact that they were

pretending to not be The Beatles

but to be another band.

The locked groove at

the end of side two.

Lucy in the sky with

diamonds. Ah, L-S-D.

Secret messages all

the way through.

It was like a work

of literature.

It was like a Ulysses

or something,

where people were just thinking,

I don't quite understand this

but there's definitely

something really going on.


combination of imagination

and mystery proved irresistible.

With Sgt. Pepper, The

Beatles transformed

from pop culture icons into

mystics of the modern age.

When The Beatles came

out with their new song,

people started pondering

that these are people

that you're looking

to for meaning.

By '67,

I think the release

of Sgt. Pepper in America


The Beatles basically

as the leaders of

the counterculture

along with a few other people

like Allen Ginsberg,

Timothy Leary.

But The Beatles were

the musical leaders.

Right across the board, they

were seen as, yes, as gods.

Leary himself said a lot

of silly things about them,

they were a type of new

superheroes, leaders of men,

and all this stuff.

I'm not convinced that the

youth culture in the mid '60s

were terribly aware of

LSD and Timothy Leary

and even counterculture


If it hadn't been for that

conduit that was The Beatles,

this sort of stuff

might have just stayed

in San Francisco, in California.

The counterculture wasn't

called the "Underground"

for no reason.

Not many people knew about it.


The Beatles were determined

to spread the word even further.

At the end of June 1967,

less than a month after

the release of Sgt. Pepper's,

the band were invited

to represent Britain

in the first ever

international satellite

television broadcast.

Across the US,

Canada and Europe,

the youthful optimism

of the counterculture

was reaching its peak

during the Summer of Love,

with thousands flocking

to large public events.

With their historic contribution

to the One World broadcast,

The Beatles delivered the

scene's definitive anthem

to an audience of over 500

million viewers worldwide.

The Beatles, true to form,

national representatives

representing their country,

they start with

the national anthem.

The only problem is it's

the French national anthem!

That's a classic.

That is total Beatles humor.

♪ Love, love, love

♪ Love, love, love

♪ Love, love, love... ♪

It was fun.

I was at that one.

It was like a party.

They'd invited a load

of their friends,

The Small Faces and

The Rolling Stones,

and everybody was there,

all in our psychedelic finery.

Sitting on the floor there,

it looked like it might

all explode at some point.

And there was an awful lot

of frantic waving

and people rushing around,

holding on to their headphones

and talking to people.

That was mostly

to do with the international

link-up, though,

because no one had

ever done that before.

It really did go out live

all around the world.

It was fantastic.

♪ All you need is love

♪ All you need is love

♪ All you need is love, love

♪ Love is all you need... ♪

the release of Sgt. Pepper.

This is mere weeks after

Every other band would

choose to use that moment

to promote Sgt. Pepper by doing

a couple of tracks from it.

Right? It just makes total

business sense.

But they took the opportunity

to send a message to the world

that all you need is love.

They'd already been

saying it on Rubber Soul,

the word is love.

But this was the time they

could tell the whole world

all at the same time.

The Beatles are clearly

leading the way.

I think there's a

great significance

in the idea of them sitting

on those high chairs,

with the beautiful people of

London, including Mick Jagger,

sitting at their feet,

looking up at them

and singing along to a song

they've only just heard.

That's powerful.

All You Need Is

Love was an anthem of hope

certain that the old order

from a youth movement

was about to crumble.

The Beatles were steering

an entire generation

into uncharted territory,

yet it would not take

the Establishment long

to respond to these

peaceful revolutionaries.

In the UK, the

police were mobilized

and began to make a

number of drug busts,

arresting not only

prominent figures

on the underground scene

but also Mick Jagger,

Keith Richards

and later Brian Jones

of the Rolling Stones.

These high-profile cases

didn't faze Paul

McCartney, however.

Following the arrests,

he not only paid for,

but also put his name to

a national press advert

calling for the

legalization of marijuana.

Weeks later, he

admitted to a journalist

that he had taken LSD

and repeated this in

a television interview,

much to the shock

of Brian Epstein.

Brian didn't like

things being made public.

He was a very private person,

obviously, because of

his way of life.

The thing about

drugs is it wasn't

anything about them

being good or bad.

It's just it was illegal.

often have you taken LSD?

Paul, how

About four times.


did you get it from?

If I was to say where I

got it from, it's illegal.

It's silly to say that.

Don't you believe

that this was a matter

which you should

have kept private?

The thing is, I was asked

a question by a newspaper

and the decision was

whether to tell a lie

or to tell him the truth.

I decided to tell him the truth.

But I really didn't want

to say anything.

If I'd had my decision,

if I had it my way,

I wouldn't have told anyone.

'Cause I'm not trying to

spread the word about this.

But the man from the

newspaper is the man

from the mass medium.

I'll keep it a personal

thing if he does too,

if he keeps it quiet.

But he wanted to spread it.

So it's his responsibility

for spreading it, not mine.

The thing is, Paul

is always honest.

If a reporter asked him,

have you taken LSD?,

he's going to say yes.

He wouldn't lie.

Why should he?

If they're going to

ask that question,

they get an honest answer.

It was a risky thing

for him to say.

It probably gave Brian

Epstein a conniption.

But basically, although The

Beatles had made a lot of money,

they were never really

in it for the money.

Once they had enough to

really live well, that was it.

I think that was a

very good sign of them.

They paid their tax and

they said what they wanted.

The Beatles'

sense of security

was about to be

challenged, however.

In late August, the band were

shocked to receive the news

that their manager

Brian Epstein had died,

their most trusted accomplice.

In his absence they

were suddenly left

without his

stabilizing influence.

At the same time,

their quest for personal and

spiritual growth continued.

George Harrison had

become fascinated

by Indian music in 1965,

and as he immersed

himself in its techniques,

to its spiritual foundations.

he became increasingly drawn

This led him to

discover the Indian guru

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

and his technique of

transcendental meditation.

By mid-1967, Harrison was

introducing his bandmates

to the Maharishi's ideas,

and soon The Beatles had

a new spiritual advisor.

When they first got

involved with him,

I wrote and asked Allen

Ginsberg what the story

was on the Maharishi, in India,

because Ginsberg had lived there

for a number of years

and he knew a lot of the

gurus and the teachers.

He wrote back saying the

Maharishi was very commercial

and that he was under

a lot of criticism in India

for taking disciples' money,

because in fact the

teaching should be free.

So I reported this to

John Lennon who came out

with a wonderful line of,

"Ain't no ethnic bastard

going to get any golden

castles out of me."

Despite his

initial reservations,

in February 1968, Lennon

and his bandmates

traveled to India for an

extended retreat with the guru.

Joined by their various

wives and girlfriends,

their departure to the East

for spiritual fulfillment

made headlines worldwide.

The press swarmed

around the perimeter

14-acre compound,

of the Maharishi's

both intrigued and baffled

by this latest chapter

in The Beatles'

unpredictable journey.

This exposure brought Eastern

religion to the attention

of an enormous audience.

Sometime in January,

it was sudden,

"Right, we're off to Maharishi

to live in a holiday

camp in India."

"Oh, right.

Have a good time.

But they did write a

heck of a lot of songs

while they were there,

churning them out.

The Beatles

introduced the world,

especially the young world,

to things they would

never have stumbled upon

had The Beatles not been there.

The philosophy

behind transcendental

meditation, Buddhism,

they were looking outwards.

Meditation was at

the center of it.

That's actually really

all that matters.

It's the soul.

The reality is here.

Not many people had really

thought about that before.

And if The Beatles, the most

popular band in the world,

the most popular cultural

phenomenon in the world,

were talking earnestly

about this stuff,

obviously, as much as a lot

of the elders might laugh,

at least as many young

people went along with them.

And, you know, sales of

texts of Eastern wisdom

went through the roof

in the late '60s.

People flocked to

see the Maharishi.

The Beatles were this

gateway to another world.

Although the

band emerged from India

both spiritually and

creatively refreshed,

this sense of calm

would be short-lived.

In February 1968, they set up

their own corporation, Apple.

This multifaceted

company was developed

to broaden

The Beatles' activities

and to retain full

control over their output.

Yet it would prove the first

of many overambitious projects

for the band.

As they entered the

studio in the summer

to work on their

follow-up to Sgt. Pepper,

for the first time, creative

and personal disputes

recording sessions.

crept into the

A particular source of

tension was the daily presence

of an outsider in

The Beatles' inner sanctum,

the conceptual artist Yoko Ono,

with whom John Lennon had

fallen deeply in love.

It was a relationship that had

been blossoming, in private,

for more than a year.

While McCartney had been

growing in confidence

through his

underground activities,

in rural Surrey had increased.

Lennon's sense of isolation

Initially finding a

release through LSD,

it was Yoko Ono who offered

him a means of escape.

A relatively unknown artist

when she had traveled to London

with husband Tony Cox in 1966,

it was through

the Indica Gallery

that she came into

contact with Lennon.

Its owner, John Dunbar,

provided the space

for Ono's first UK exhibition,

and it was he who

invited his Beatle friend

to attend this unusual show.

She was plainly an

interesting, powerful woman.

I didn't show ordinary pictures

on the wall at all, really.

And so, you know, she had some

good ideas and I liked them.

She wanted to do a show.

We managed to find

a couple of weeks

where we didn't

have something on.

Yoko was reluctant to

have anybody look at it

until she'd totally finished

and labeled everything.

So we were sort of doing that.

But me and Tony had

to sort of tell her,

"Look, this guy might buy

something, you never know."

He came round and he

did like the ladder

and then looking through

the magnifying glass

and it says "Yes,"

so, he liked that.


relationship that developed

across the following two years

would be consummated

in May 1968,

just before The Beatles began

work on the White Album.

Lennon emerged a changed man,

released from an

unhappy marriage

and liberated as an artist.

The arrival of Yoko Ono

into John's life

transformed Lennon completely.

She was the mother,

lover, teacher.

She was kind of everything

really to John. He needed that.

basically a mother figure.

When he met Yoko, she was

I mean, he used to

call her "Mother."

She, for her own reasons,

took him on,

and saved him, actually.

As Ono's presence

made an impact on both Lennon

and the bond

between The Beatles,

the world outside of the

band began to darken.

As the war in Vietnam spiraled

further out of control

to the conflict in sight,

and with no apparent end

across the West, the

cultural movement so inspired

by The Beatles

no longer believed

love is all you need.

The progressive, liberal

core of the counterculture

came under fire, with

the assassinations

of, first, Civil Rights

leader Martin Luther King,

and, then, Presidential

candidate Robert Kennedy,

increasing tensions.

Both in the US and Britain,

once peaceful anti-war


descended into violence.

Student riots brought

Paris to a standstill,

and images of street skirmishes

and police brutality

became commonplace.

As the authorities led

an unforgiving onslaught

on the counterculture,

revolution replaced love

as the new objective.

In '68, it all exploded.

You know, you had

assassinations in the States,

the threat of Civil War,

Riots in the

Democratic Convention,

riots in Paris, in London,

violence on the streets.

Actually, there was

a sort of a fight. Power..

you don't really get power,

it won't trickle down.

It has to be

sort of... forced.

If you look at history,

that tends to be the case.

The Beatles revolution

was a benign one,

through art and love,

flying all over the place.

but by '68, the bricks were

It wasn't just

the sweet utopianism

of the Summer of Love,

but really days of rage.

The demonstrations at

the Democratic Convention

in Chicago in 1968,

you know, was a kind

of dividing line.

You saw the police out

there clubbing kids,

and there really was a sense of,

"We're kind of at war now."

Just as this

unrestrained police brutality

tore through Chicago

in August 1968,

The Beatles issued

the single Revolution,

addressing the struggles of

a youth culture under threat.

Yet unlike All You Need

Is Love the previous year,

John Lennon's composition

refused to express the voice

of this disillusioned movement

or to accept the call to

arms of the radical Left.

saw The Beatles turned upon

For the first time, this

by their own peers.

Yet Lennon's reluctance

to commit to violence

not only led to two different

versions of the track

but also reflected

the inner struggles

that many young people

were dealing with.

The song Revolution,

there are two versions of it.

Lennon goes back and forth on

"Don't you know that

you can count me out"

as far as Revolution

is concerned.

Exactly where you were supposed

to stand was difficult.

All young people

were feeling that.

You know, go to a protest?

Yeah, sure.

Go to a protest that maybe

occupies a building? Oh, maybe.

You know, burning

that building down?

Do you draw the line there?

♪ You say you want

a revolution ♪

♪ Well, you know

change the world ♪

♪ We'd all love to

♪ You tell me that

it's evolution ♪

♪ Well, you know

♪ We'd all love

to see the word ♪

♪ But when you talk

about destruction ♪

♪ Don't you know that

you can count me out, in... ♪

If you're talking

about destruction

Lennon's saying count me out

then he's saying count me in.

He doesn't know.

He's on the fence at that point.

Lennon, as much as he

could be a bit handy,

was seduced by this

idea of peace and love.

He'd just written the

anthem of the previous year.

There always was a

kind of inherent optimism

in The Beatles somehow,

whereas that wasn't true

of Dylan,

it wasn't true of The Stones.

It was almost like

Martin Luther King.

People don't say this now

but there was a sense in which

a lot of the black radicals

who were emerging seemed

more of the moment.

Dr. King seemed

like kind of part

of the protest Establishment.

And in a certain way

The Beatles seemed a

little bit like that too.

If the band were

losing some of their relevance

as a cultural force through

Yoko Ono's influence,

John Lennon ensured that they

remained musical pioneers.

Where Revolution had pulled

its punches politically,

an experimental collage that

he created with his new partner

captured the chaos of 1968

simply through sound itself.

When it was issued on

the band's self-titled LP

at the close of the year,

the track Revolution 9

became the most widely heard

avant-garde composition

ever released.

It was a startling

statement from a man

who had been heralding

only a year beforehand.

in the Summer of Love

He went from one

extreme to the other.

Lennon suddenly saw

it's all gone wrong.

He turned to the flip side,

and the flip side

was Revolution number 9,

Revolution 9,

which was a very,

very different view

of the future.

♪ Number nine, number nine

♪ Number nine, number

nine, number nine... ♪

Revolution 9 was

the sound really

of not just the riots in Paris

or the streets of Chicago.

This is the sound

of the apocalypse.

This is his incredibly

honest depiction

of the worst fear of all

which is a society

and a world in global turmoil.

It's an extraordinary piece,

and one of the scariest pieces

of music you could ever hear.

In the 21st century,

is far more relevant

Revolution 9

than it ever was in '68.

Having delivered

the most extreme composition

in The Beatles' catalog,

Lennon's further

experimental activities

continued outside of the band.

By the end of 1968,

the first of a trilogy of albums

with Yoko Ono was issued

Two Virgins, with a cover

depicting the couple naked.

Still a member of

the most popular

and commercially successful

act in the world,

Lennon was now breaking

every rule imaginable.

Yet the anger in some

quarters of the counterculture

toward the song

Revolution also led him

into a greater political role.

In 1969, as Richard

Nixon was sworn in

as the new President of America,

John Lennon and Yoko Ono emerged

as the world's most

prominent activists.

When Lennon came out and said,

destruction, count me out,

if you're talking about

he was terribly criticized

by the hard Left.

And it seems to me that

his reaction to that

was not to change his

mind about destruction,

but actually to say,

"No, I really don't think

the answer is destruction.

I think the answer

actually is peace."

In March 1969,

John Lennon and Yoko

Ono were married.

the couple embarked

With their honeymoon,

on a high-profile

campaign for peace,

presented as a series of

conceptual art events.

In the spirit of The Beatles'

initial attitude to the press,

the first of these took place

in their hotel bridal suite,

in which they

invited journalists

to discuss politics

openly and frankly.

This is for world peace.

And we're thinking that

instead of going out and fight,

and make war,

something like that,

we should just stay in bed,

everybody should just stay

in bed and enjoy the spring.

He put his career right on

the line there for his beliefs.

And you have to applaud

him for that, of course.

It brought him an awful lot

of harassment and trouble.

While you're in bed

and you're giving your press

conferences in pillow cases,

are you laughing at us?

No, no.

No more than you're

laughing at us.

We have a laugh, we

think it's funny,

the fact that the front

page news should be the fact

that two people went to

bed on their honeymoon.

We see the funny side of it.

And that in Vienna, which

is a pretty square place,

there's all these

beautiful photographs

of microphones

being held to a bag,

to wait for the bag to speak.

It's rather nice.

But we're serious

about the peace bit.

Brave, foolhardy,

they were all of that.

But who else would

have done that then?

It would be front page

news if they were in bed,

talking about peace.

John didn't know

necessarily the ins and outs

of the whole Vietnam thing.

He and Yoko knew

that it was wrong

napalm on villages

to be dropping

and stripping the

skin off children.

I mean, he wasn't

wrong in that thinking.

He really wasn't wrong.

As the

couple's honeymoon moved

from Europe to Canada,

they were joined in their

hotel room by Timothy Leary,

Allen Ginsberg and a variety

of counterculture figures,

to record an anthem

for their campaign.

And where their

experimental records

and their public appearances

had left many confused,

this song managed to

bring their message

to a global audience.

Give Peace a Chance

was his attempt

to do something in his own

terms that was actually useful

and I think it proved to be so.

He wrote an anthem.

It's a simplistic anthem,

but it's an anthem that has a

good heart and a good message

and that people have

been singing ever since.

♪ Ev'rybody's talking

'bout Bagism, Shagism ♪

♪ Dragism, Madism,

Ragism, Tagism ♪

♪ This-ism, that-ism,

is-m, is-m, is-m ♪

♪ All we are saying

♪ Is give peace a chance

♪ All we are saying

♪ Is give peace a chance... ♪

He's moved further

and further away

from the elegant combination

choices and resonant text

of artistic musical

into records that

only have a message.

He had that ability to

distill something down

to its bare essence,

make it communicative,

make it unforgettable, and it

still resonates to this day.


Lennon pressed on

campaigning for peace,

the close of the decade saw

the first major casualties

of the youth movement,

with the death of

Rolling Stone Brian Jones

and permanent narcotics damage

on both Beach Boy Brian Wilson

and Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett.

The utopian vision of a brave

new world was crumbling,

and this was reflected within

The Beatles camp itself.

The tensions that had

previously arisen in the studio

now spread into the bandmates'

own relationships

with each other,

and when McCartney

Eastman in 1969,

married his new partner Linda

none of his fellow Beatles

attended the ceremony.

As the world moved

into the 1970s,

Paul issued his

debut solo record

along with a press release

which announced that he

was quitting the band.

It was official.

The Beatles were no more.

The demise of the band

shocked their fans worldwide,

yet those close to the musicians

gradually drift apart

had watched them

over a two-year period.

There was no cohesion.

The old Liverpool bubble that

they all used to live in

and see each other all the

time and love each other

and be tolerant of

each other's foibles

and differences had gone.

So now they were spinning

off in different directions

with new ideas, new families,

new girlfriends, new children.

It just wasn't working anymore.

It was obvious really

had pretty much come to an end.

that The Beatles as a group

Has a multi-million

dollar entertainment act

ever broken up because

it wasn't fun anymore?

Well, we know actually

because so many groups

from that same period

continued and

continued and continued

when it most definitely

wasn't fun anymore.

The Beatles ended it

because the reasons

gotten into doing it

that they had

ceased to have value for them.

So they said, let's

not do this anymore.

That's as powerful a statement

about their integrity

and their intentions

and their values

as anything that I can think of.


The Beatles' wake,

youth culture

became more divided,

rock music got heavier

and more self-indulgent

attention to glamor.

and pop turned its

As for the band

members themselves,

despite Lennon's

continued activism

and string of hit singles,

McCartney's mainstream

triumph through his band Wings

and Harrison's

successful emergence

as an artist in his own right,

their impact as individuals

could never match that

of their Beatles glory days.

Yet although their

vision of utopia

had failed to materialize,

the world was still

forever changed

by The Beatles' innovations

and the values that

they represented.

Even if no one has ever managed

to compete with that impact,

with every successive

generation of musicians

The Beatles remain the benchmark

for how popular

entertainers can interact

with the wider world.

Did cultural and

musical changes,

to which they were

without any doubt

the largest contributors,

have a permanent effect

on how rock and roll

conceived itself?

Yeah, permanent effect

on how rock and roll

perceived itself.

So that there's even now

in this glitzy pop era,

pop stars see it as an option

that they have to

accept or refuse

to be conscious,


and some choose one,

and others really deny it,

and some are extremely bland,

but it's there on the table.

Always there on the

table, for everybody.

And as the band's

astonishing achievements

continue to make an impact

half a century later,

the legacy of The Beatles,

and of the remarkable decade

in which they flourished,

remains unrivaled.

The unique story of four

working class Liverpudlians

who changed the world.

Lennon said

something along the lines of,

"We weren't leaders

in this world.

"We were just the guys on

the mast saying land ahoy.

We were letting you

know what we could see."

And without The Beatles,

understanding the '60s

would have been a completely

different experience.

They touched everything.

The Beatles covered it all.

the '60s were about,

If you want to know what

you listen to Beatles records.

It tells you..

the story is there.

It sounds like a cliché,

but it's really impossible

to over state

The Beatles' impact.

It sounds like

you're exaggerating,

and to younger people

who weren't there,

you know,

it just sounds ridiculous.

But it was true.

They changed everything.