Home News Classic Rock News It Was 50 Years Ago: Manila Trip Changed the Course of The...

It Was 50 Years Ago: Manila Trip Changed the Course of The Beatles


Santi Visalli/Getty ImagesTomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of a momentous occasion in The Beatles career. July 4, 1966, is a day the band would never forget — for all the wrong reasons. But the events that day would drastically change the course of the band.

The Australian tells how the Fab Four’s harrowing experiences in the Philippines prompted them to quit touring — and enter the studio to record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

They were to have made a quick stop for two shows in Manila, tacked on to a series of Tokyo dates. A misunderstanding led to a violent chain of events.

First, they were removed from their plane by armed troops upon arrival and taken to the yacht of a supporter of new president Ferdinand Marcos. That would be the least of their problems.

The local promoter arranged for them to meet first lady Imelda Marcos at a luncheon at the Malacanang Palace. But he didn’t tell manager Brian Epstein, who scratched the appearance off their packed itinerary, and the promoter didn’t tell the palace.

The first show went off without a hitch, but the unintended snub unleashed a firestorm of nationwide anger, including bomb threats against the Manila Hotel and British Embassy.

The next morning, as the band left the hotel, they were accosted by thugs who badly beat Epstein, road manager Mal Evans and chauffeur Alf Bicknell. The band was also kicked and punched. On the plane, an extremely shaken George Harrison declared that he would never tour again; John Lennon and Ringo Starr agreed. But Paul McCartney convinced them to finish the tour, which ended in San Francisco August 29.

On November 24, 1966, freed from performing — and no longer having to reproduce complex songs live — The Beatles went into the studio to start creating a masterpiece. Sgt. Pepper was unleashed on the world the following June 1.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.