The Beatles travel from London to Chicago

Thursday, August 11, 1966
Timeline More from year 1966
Heathrow Airport, London, UK

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On this day, The Beatles flew from London to Chicago, to start their final tour. At Heathrow Airport, due to their flight being delayed, they passed the time by visiting some airport facilities. The press filmed them and Paul McCartney and John Lennon said a few words to the BBC.


When the Beatles departed from London Airport on their way to America, there was a delay for about fifty minutes before their plane took off, so instead of waiting in the V.I.P. lounge — which would soon have become bedlam, the Beatles drove straight off of the M.4 to the police building at the north side of the airport, where they met Chief Inspector Campbell, who showed them round the gymnasium, the pressing room (where the ‘bobbies’ press their trousers) and then into the canteen for a ‘cuppa’— that’s one way of passing the time!

From The Beatles Monthly Book – September 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – September 1966


FROM facts supplied by NME correspondents in America, we have compiled a Beatles diary. Below is our impression of how the Beatles themselves might write down their day-to-day events…

THURSDAY, August 11 : Thanks for the wonderful send-off from London Airport. Sorry you got so wet. Hope you haven’t got colds. We were questioned, of course. Replies: JOHN: I’m sorry I said it. I’m worried because I caused the bother. I will do anything to put things right. I’ll apologise, without reservations. PAUL: I expect it will be the usual rave-up. GEORGE: I’m worried. We’ve never left for America with this sort of feeling. Girl fans shouted: “Don’t go. You’ll be killed.” Hope not.

Flew Pan-Am (our original TWA flight direct London-Chicago was strike cancelled). Touched down at Boston. Sorry for the 500 youngsters who weren’t allowed near us. RINGO (as we stretch legs in silence): At least the weather is warm. Some fans reported to have shouted “John, not Jesus” but we never heard them.

Chicago… we’re smuggled through hangar a mile from passenger terminal. At hotel car mobbed. How those girls pounded roof of new limousine. Rooms on 24th floor.

We had a Press reception at which JOHN apologised in front of TV cameras and mikes for his remark about “Beatles more popular than Christ” and said he’d be more guarded in what he said in future. He explained he used “Beatles” as he might use “TV” or “cinema,” or anything else that was popular. (Reported fans outside annoyed, and one alleged to say: “John has sold out to adults”). But Alabama disc jockey called off anti-Beatles demonstration. […]

From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966
From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966

All American eyes on Beatles; ‘Submarine’ enters U.S. charts

THE Beatles arrival in Chicago yesterday (Thursday) and their Press conference in the city were being covered by television for all America to see, cables June Harris. And expecting trouble, TV cameras will be stationed in the vicinity of the stadium where the group gives its first concert tonight. Questions to John Lennon about his attitude to religion will not be barred, although he has not been available to comment on the issue at home.

The Beatles departure for America started with a hitch. Their reservations – booked weeks ago – were cancelled by TWA on Wednesday because of the airline’s strike. The Beatle party was switched to Pan-Am and they left earlier than scheduled.

But if the Lennon storm has damaged the Beatles relations with a section of the American public, their record sales do not seem to have suffered. Ringo’s offering “Yellow Subarrine”, undoubtedly the most popular side, enters the Top 100 chart published next week at No 52 in “Billbord” and No 24 in “Cash Box”. “Eleanor Rigby” enters at 101 and 58 respectively.

And in Britain EMI announced on Wednesday that it had sold to dealers a quarter of a million copies of the new Beatles single — which enters this week’s NME Chart at No, 2 — issued only last Friday.

Sales of their new LP “Revolver” released the same day, have already passed the 200,000 mark. […]

From New Musical Express – August 12, 1966
From New Musical Express – August 12, 1966

From U.S. Tour Begins – The Beatles History (
From Beatles Tours London sur Twitter : “Leaving London Airport for their final USA Tour, August 1966. #TheBeatles #LondonAirport #sixties #1960s #sixtiesstyle #beatleslondon” / Twitter
From Beatles 1966 The Beatles arrive at London Airport to fly out to USA John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison Ringo Starr Stock Photo – Alamy
From U.S. Tour Begins – The Beatles History (

The Beatles then had a brief stop in Boston, to change planes and catch a connecting flight to their tour’s first destination, Chicago.

From U.S. Tour Begins – The Beatles History (
From U.S. Tour Begins – The Beatles History (

THE BEATLES arrive in Boston after a flight from London. A crowd of 600 greeted them. but few saw the mop-haired idols who touched down only to change to a flight for Chicago.

‘We Support John’ Greets Beatles

BOSTON — The Beatles made a brief stop in Boston to change planes Thursday and if the wild screaming of some 600 teenagers was any barometer, the English musical group has lost none of its popularity. The teenagers, most of them girls, started to arrive at Logan International Airport as early as four hours before the arrival of the Beatles — but they never saw their idols.

Forty Massachusetts State Troopers stood guard at all the entrances to the field ramps to keep the teenagers at a distance. There was some question about what kind of reaction the Beatles would receive in America after John Lennon was quoted as saying that he, and the other Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are more popular than Jesus.

What greeted the Beatles were delighted screams and handmade sign — one on a huge bedsheet — that read “We Love You Beatles” and “We Support John.” The Beatles could hear the screams but they could not see the signs. Their fans, held off at a long distance, knew that the Beatles had arrived and changed planes only by word that spread from the field to the terminal.

The singing group arrived on a Pan American Airways flight from London and went directly to a plane headed for Chicago where they will open their third American tour tonight. They expect to be in the U.S. until Aug. 30, visiting 14 cities. Lt. Robert Herzog of the Massachusetts state police, who estimated the Boston crowd at about 600, said his men had to keep everyone except newsmen off the field as a safety precaution.

Shortly before the singers-musicians arrived, State Rep. CharIes Iannello, (D..Boston) tried to introduce a resolution to ban a scheduled Boston appearance’ Aug. 18. He failed to muster enough votes in the House of Representatives. And in Memphis, Tenn., it was suggested in the city council that two scheduled performances by the Beatles be canceled. Several American radio stations have announced they no longer play Beatles records because of Lennon’s remark.

From The Miami Herald – August 12, 1966
From The Miami Herald – August 12, 1966

Boston Teen-Agers Ignore Beatles

BOSTON (UPI) — Boston teenagers virtually ignored the Beatles Thursday when the mop-topped British singing group landed in the United States for a 14-day tour.

Only about 500 diehard fans lined the ramps at Logan Airport to welcome their controversial idols for their fourth tour of the United States.

“This is far below our expectations,” a state police official said surveying the small cluster of shaggy haired teenagers. “I’d call this a mighty disappointing reception.”

The high-pitched screams of the young girls, who waved signs reading “We’re behind John,” were swallowed by the roar of jet engines.

Weather Warm

Ringo Starr, the first Beatle to emerge from the plane, said “Well, at least the weather is warm here.”

Earlier in the day, the Beatles were given a wild sendoff at London Airport. Hundreds of youngsters in hip-hugging pants and mini-skirts vowed to “start World War III”, if the Americans snubbed the British singers.

The Beatles, who have been engulfed by mobs of adoring fans on previous trips to the United States were starting this tour on a wave of ill-will whipped up by John Lennon’s comment that the Beatles are now “more popular than Jesus.”

From The Argus – August 12, 1966
From The Argus – August 12, 1966

The Beatles landed at 4:55 pm in Chicago. They were brought to the Astor Tower Hotel, where the group was staying that night and where a press conference was hastily arranged. The main theme of the press conference was, obviously, John Lennon’s recent comments about The Beatles being “more popular than Jesus”.

John had been passing quite valid and social comments that he felt that more people were prepared to turn out to see a Beatles show than would be prepared to turn out for God, to turn out for Jesus, to turn out to go to Church etc. He wasn’t boasting that ‘The Beatles were bigger than Jesus’ but, in fact, he was making a very valid social comment, one feels, in the context of the original piece. But lifted out and put alone like that, the comment disturbed a large number of people around the world and, perhaps, most of all in America’s Bible belt where, one recalls, copies of Beatles records and photographs of John Lennon were burnt and so forth.

The arrival in Chicago was auspicious from John’s personal point of view because, that night in the hotel, for the first time perhaps, he personally faced the press, TV and the world news media in his own right. Not particularly as a Beatle, or as an author, or anything like that, but in fact to sort of explain something. He was taking a great personal responsibility for something he felt terribly badly about and was greatly concerned that this thing, taken completely out of context, should rebound. He did not blame, for instance, Maureen Cleave in the least because of the way he had told it to her. He was concerned that this whole thing could rebound on The Beatles. He was more frightened, really scared stiff, that night, more than at any other time I’ve seen him, because the whole thing fell on his shoulders. It wasn’t your regular Beatles press conference, with a few nifty wise cracks passing to and fro with the other Beatles, this was John on his own, coming out into the hotel room. Three-quarters of which were filled with journalists, cameramen and so forth, but unfortunately the reporters there still seemed to have got the wrong impression.

Tony Barrow – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

The atmosphere is electric in America but the tour is on. Now a British vicar talks of Lennon and Cliff Richard…


THE BEATLES were off today (Thursday) to America for their most dramatic tour ever after a week of confusion and a fantastic anti-Beatle campaign in the USA.

The row that started with a John Lennon interview in the London Evening Standard four months ago blew up to a dangerous international incident. Lennon was quoted by writer Maureen Cleave as saying: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink… we’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first—rock ’n’ roll or Christianity.”

After the article was quoted in Datebook, a US magazine, Birmingham, Alabama disc-jockey Tommy Charles of Station WAQY led a furious “Ban-the-Beatles” campaign. Other DJs joined in, threatening to hold public bonfires of Beatles records and paraphernalia like wigs and T-shirts.

Manager Epstein, who had been in bed with glandular fever, flew to New York, appeared on TV, and claimed that John’s remarks had been misinterpreted out of context. Still the American fury spread. “You can’t compare Christianity and the top ten” said Tommy Charles.

The Ku Klux Klan joined in, charging Lennon with being “brainwashed by Communism.”

But while other stations opposed the “Burn and Ban the Beatles” plan, saying it was a “publicity stunt,” Epstein said he would leave it to individual concert promoters in America’s “Deep South” to say themselves whether they wanted to call off the Beatles’ appearances here. The tour, said Epstein, would go on. Meanwhile, the burning started in Starke, Florida — 300 teenagers set fire to Beatles records, shirts, buttons and pictures.

In Britain, a vicar claimed that Lennon was “getting his own back on Cliff Richard for his religious comments.” The Rev. Bill Shergold, of St. Mary’s, Paddington, London, who founded Paddington’s “59 Club’’ of motorcyclists, told Disc and Music Echo: “The Beatles are very good at off-the-cuff remarks like that and very witty usually. But I feel this one must have just slipped out, and is not really John Lennon’s considered opinion on religion.


But Disc and Music Echo can reveal that Leannon has for some time been very interested in religion, and has studied it. Far from boasting about the “Beatles being more popular than Jesus,” he meant to convey that it was a deplorable fact, “that in the last 50 years the Church of England had suffered a decline in interest.”

While America was split on the Beatles. British record-buyers, far from burning their discs, went out in their thousands and put the group up to number four in the chart this week with their new single, “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine.” It’s the second time in recent releases that their record has not gone straight to number one. “Paperback Writer”—out last June—came in at 2.

Beatles leave London Airport for their U.S. tour today (Thursday) on TW Flight 771 at 12.30 p.m.

From Disc And Music Echo – August 13, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – August 13, 1966

Last updated on December 22, 2023

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