More from year 1967
Jun 26, 1962
Jan 27, 1965
Feb 18, 1965
Nov 19, 1966
Apr 19, 1967
Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.
On this day, The Beatles launched their first business venture by opening the Apple shop, which was popularly called “the Apple Boutique”. The name “Apple” was chosen following the recent rebranding of The Beatles Ltd. company to Apple Music Ltd.
The shop’s exterior was decorated with a vivid and colourful psychedelic mural created by The Fool design collective. The group had previously worked with The Beatles, designing the band’s clothing for the 1967 television broadcast of “All You Need Is Love” and the “I Am the Walrus” segment of the Magical Mystery Tour television film. The Fool was also responsible for designing the clothing sold in the shop.
The management of the Apple shop was entrusted to John Lennon’s friend, Pete Shotton, and George Harrison’s wife’s sister, Jenny Boyd.
Despite the fame of its owners and the unique style of its products, the Apple boutique struggled to find success, and it ultimately closed its doors just under a year after opening, in July 1968.
We started an Apple clothes shop because we were now dressing in such interesting clothes, and the Fool were making a lot of them. So we said, “Could you make a few pieces that we could take to other people and they could manufacture stuff to your designs?”Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997
I realized then that my recruitment to Apple was virtually a fait accompli. Having made up his mind that I was joining the Beatles’ company, John had already told everyone to expect me. Since I couldn’t help but be flattered that Paul seemed equally enthusiastic about the idea, I decided not to put up any further resistance.
Later that evening, I tried to pin John down as to what my role in Apple might consist of. “Well,” he said, “we’re planning to open a clothing shop for starters. Eventually we’ll have a chain of Apple boutiques all over the world, but the first one’s gotta be in London. Since you know all about shops, why don’t you just run that?”
“But I don’t know anything at all about boutiques, John.”
“Well, just have a go at it, Pete. If you don’t like it — then fuck it, we’ll find you something else to do.”Pete Shotton – From “The Beatles, Lennon and Me“, 1984
The Fool’s new career as the Beatles’ unofficial costumers and designers began with the “All You Need Is Love” TV sequence. After the Dutch artists worked their wonders on George’s bungalow and John’s favorite piano, the Beatles agreed to bankroll the Fool (to the reported tune of £100,000), and to provide their orgasmic fashions with a commercial outlet — which, as it turned out, I was expected to manage.Pete Shotton – From “The Beatles, Lennon and Me“, 1984
The Apple Boutique was a retail store located in a building on the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street, Marylebone, London. It opened on 7 December 1967 and closed on 31 July 1968. The shop was one of the first business ventures by the Beatles’ fledgling Apple Corps.
The concept of the shop was that everything in it was for sale. The aim, as described by Paul McCartney, was to create “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things”. In practice, the stock was overwhelmingly fashion garments and accessories. John Lennon vetoed the use of the word “boutique”, but the venture has come to be popularly called the “Apple Boutique”.
The launch party on 5 December 1967 was attended by Lennon, George Harrison and their wives, as well as Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Cilla Black and Kenneth Tynan, who were all sipping apple juice as the shop had no alcohol licence. Invitations read “Come at 7.46. Fashion Show at 8.16.” suggesting a degree of precision and planning not subsequently realised in the management of the business. Footage of the event shows Simon Posthuma playing Arabic music on a flute, Barry Finch playing a small drum, and Josje Leeger playing finger cymbals to the guests. A free gift of an apple money clip was given to the first 50 guests.
Lennon’s friend Peter Shotton managed the store with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny Boyd (who later married Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac). The Apple shop was a financial disaster, because theft was endemic and customers helped themselves to the stock, as did staff members, who had difficulty determining which things people had come in with and which they had picked up in the shop. The ethos of the venture and those operating it was antithetic to making accusations of shoplifting or calling for the London Police. The Fool’s members also made a habit of taking their choice of the merchandise.
The Dutch designers Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger, along with artist Josje Leeger, had met Simon Hayes and Barry Finch in London and formed the Fool design collective. Pattie Harrison was familiar with them and introduced them to the Beatles who, in September 1967, gave the Fool £100,000 (equivalent to £1,931,000 in 2023) to design and stock the first outlet of a planned national chain of “Apple” shops. The Beatles business took a lease on 94 Baker Street, a Georgian townhouse dating from 1795, and the ground floor was proposed for the Apple shop despite the location being remote from the centres of fashion and design of 1960s London.
Barry Finch employed art students to paint a psychedelic style mural, designed by the Fool, across the building’s facades between 10 and 12 November 1967. The concept was borrowed from the painting of the facades of the Lord John shop in Carnaby Street, albeit executed to a figurative design with greater density and colour.
Westminster City Council had not, however, granted consent for the mural, which could have been construed as an advertisement, nor had a licence to do this been sought from the landlord, the Portman Estate. Complaints from local traders resulted in the Council issuing Apple with an enforcement notice to paint over the façade mural. In addition, the Portman Estate was prevailed upon[by whom?] to enforce the terms of the lease.
Between 15 and 18 May 1968 the façades were duly painted white with the word “Apple” in cursive script painted on each fascia. This transformation and shift in style from the florid “psychedelia” of the original mural to the minimalism of the “approved” scheme prefigures the contrast in record cover design between that of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in June 1967 and that of The Beatles to be released in November 1968.
In an interview conducted for The Beatles Anthology, George Harrison said of the artwork:
“If they’d protected it and the painted wall was there now, they would be saying, ‘Wow, look at this. We’ve got to stop it chipping off.’ But that’s just typical of the narrow minds we were trying to fight against. That’s what the whole Sixties Flower-Power thing was about: ‘Go away, you bunch of boring people.’ The whole government, the police, the public – everybody was so boring, and then suddenly people realised they could have fun. Once we were told we had to get rid of the painting, the whole thing started to lose its appeal.”
Failure and closing
The retail business lost money at an alarming rate, eventually running to £200,000 (equivalent to £3,690,100 in 2021). and the shop was closed on 31 July 1968. In a press release, explaining the Beatles’ motives for closing the stores, Paul McCartney stated.
“We decided to close down our Baker Street shop yesterday and instead of putting up a sign saying, ‘Business will be resumed as soon as possible’, and then auction off the goods, we decided to give them away. The shops were doing fine and making a nice profit on turnover. So far, the biggest loss is in giving the things away, but we did that deliberately. We’re giving them away—rather than selling them to barrow boys—because we wanted to give rather than sell. We came into shops by the tradesman’s entrance but we’re leaving by the front door. Originally, the shops were intended to be something else, but they just became like all the boutiques in London. They just weren’t our thingy. The staff will get three weeks’ pay but if they wish they’ll be absorbed into the rest of Apple. Everyone will be cared for. … All that’s happened is that we’ve closed our shop in which we feel we shouldn’t, in the first place, have been involved. Our main business is entertainment—communication. Apple is mainly concerned with fun, not with frocks. We want to devote all our energies to records, films and our electronics adventures. We had to re-focus. We had to zoom in on what we really enjoy, and we enjoy being alive, and we enjoy being Beatles.”
The night before the closing, the Beatles, their wives and girlfriends came to take what they wanted. The next morning it was announced that all the remaining stock was to be given away on the basis of one item per person. In an interview for The Beatles Anthology, Harrison describes the event: “We ended up giving the contents away. We put an ad in the paper and we filmed people coming in and grabbing everything.” Word spread quickly and the shop was empty within hours. The public, numbering in the hundreds, nearly rioted trying to get their share and the police attended.
The 18th-century house was demolished in 1974 and replaced with Travelscene House, 94 Baker Street, London W1U 6FZ. This is an office building, taller than the original building, with incorrectly proportioned neo-Georgian facades that pastiche the main facade of the original building, and forming part of a controversial redevelopment of the historic urban block to north and east.
A Heritage Foundation blue plaque commemorating John Lennon’s involvement with the shop was unveiled at the building on 27 April 2003. This was replaced on 17 March 2013 by a plaque noting both Lennon’s and George Harrison’s involvement with the store.
On 31 July 2008, a recreation of the “Apple Boutique” mural was projected onto the building by BBC programme Newsnight to mark the 40th anniversary of the shop’s closure. This was part of Newsnight‘s series marking the 40th anniversary of 1968 and brought together Pattie Boyd, Beatles’ friend Tony Bramwell, and Sixties actress, and later fashion designer, Edina Ronay to recall the controversial and eccentric Apple Boutique.
As every Beatle follower knows Baker Street — much-famed via Sherlock Holmes — has a new tenant, “Apple”. The Beatles’ first boutique, the baby of a possible future chain, opened its doors on Thursday December 7th. The new shop was well and truly launched with a star-studded opening party on the previous Tuesday. “Come at 7.46”, the invitation said. “Fashion show at 8.16”. I and about ten thousand others — at least it seemed that many, but I believe it was actually only a few hundred, crammed into the ground floor and basement at the appointed time.
Those leaders of the psychedelic cult, Simon and Marijke Postuma, the two Dutch painters who you may remember painted pianos and things for John Lennon only a short time ago, had covered every inch of the walls and ceilings with clouds, suns, grass, trees, rainbows and skies all painted in their usual vivid colours. Unfortunately most of the wall paintings were hidden behind the mass of famous figures.
Only John and George could make the opening. Ringo was away filming in Rome and Paul had gone to Scotland. It was impossible to see exactly who was there but in the corner of the basement where I stood munching an asparagus roll and drinking — yes, you guessed it, apple juice, were D.J.s Alan Freeman, Chris Denning, Jonathan King, Kenny Everett, Beatles recording Manager George Martin, George’s wife Patti, Cilla Black, Julia Foster, and I understand that Twiggy was on the other side of the room with her Manager, Justin de Villeneuve, and film director, Dick Lester.
There were no clothes at all in the shop on the party night – a good job too otherwise half of us would not have been able to get in. But the next day it was panic stations as masses of trendy-gear were delivered and arranged behind the covered windows ready for the public opening on the following morning.
Manager of “Apple” is Pete Shotton. You may recognise that name because he was one of the original members of John Lennon’s first skiffle group, the Quarrymen, which was formed over 124 years ago. Pete has taken a big hand in running the partly Beatle-owned supermarket at Hayling Island and has done so well there that the boys asked him to take charge of their first venture in the rag trade — sorry, I meant boutique business.
Pete asked me to point out that the shop doesn’t only stock hippy-gear, there are stacks of clothes for every modern mind. Although, of course, Simon and Marijke have come up with some marvellous new designs for hippy minded people!From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968
Last updated on May 8, 2023
"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."
We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!
If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.