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Tuesday, February 6, 1968

Paul McCartney joins a press conference for the Leicester Arts Festival

Last updated on December 22, 2023


  • Location: Royal Garden Hotel, London, UK


On this day, Paul McCartney took part in a press conference to publicise the Leicester Arts Festival. He was persuaded to do it by a student who managed to meet him at his Cavendish Avenue house.

From Paul McCartney and the 1968 Leicester Arts Festival — University of Leicester:

According to many Beatles websites – all of which presumably use the same source material – on 6 February 1968, Paul McCartney took part in a press conference at the Royal Garden Hotel, London “announcing the Leicester University’s art festival”.

We wondered what this arts festival was, and what connection Paul McCartney had with the event. To our great delight, Leicester alumnus Lesley Hale came through with this detailed, fascinating account of the tangential University/Beatles connection and the event which prompted it.

“Leicester Arts Festival was an annual event of huge ambition, running for two weeks in February. I am not sure how long it had been in existence when I became involved in my first undergraduate year 1967-68, nor when it ended. It was a town-gown affair overseen by a committee of arts sector people from the town, City Council and all the colleges. The Festival Director was elected (without sabbatical) by the University Students’ Union and funds were raised annually by applications for grants from the Arts Council (majority funder), Students’ Union, University, colleges and City Council. The festival was supported administratively by the Students’ Union who provided an office in the Charles Wilson Building and a part-time secretary, a patient woman of great experience without whom nothing would have happened.

“It’s probably worth saying that I came across the University website by chance when I was researching Roland Joffé’s* time in Leicester. He was an Assistant Stage Manager at the Phoenix Theatre, as it was then, and ran extra-curricular classes at the University, which I attended. I was recruited to act in a production of Under Milk Wood at the Phoenix during the 1968 Arts Festival and became loosely connected to the managing group of that year. They were a testosterone-fuelled fraternity of great ability, charm and charisma, who may well have gone on to have amazing careers.

“They arranged to launch the festival in London in order to attract the attention of the national press. I understand that one of them persuaded Paul McCartney to support the press conference by saying they had attended the same school (true or not) and camping out on his doorstep until he agreed. The photo – cut from a collage on the wall of my student house on Clarendon Park Road – was taken at the launch at the Royal Garden Hotel. It shows a bemused McCartney with smiling journalists and anxious members of the festival committee, with Alan Gold from the Leicester Mercury standing to the left, behind. That was the extent of McCartney’s involvement. […]

From We can work it out: how the Beatles’ Paul McCartney was persuaded to help Leicester – Leicestershire Live (leicestermercury.co.uk)
Paul McCartney of The Beatles, at press conference to announce Leicester University’s art festival, held at the Royal Garden Hotel, London, 5th February 1968. (Photo by Blandford/Mirrorpix/Getty Images) – From Paul McCartney of The Beatles, at press conference to announce… News Photo – Getty Images
From Paul McCartney and the 1968 Leicester Arts Festival — University of Leicester – Paul McCartney helping to launch the 1968 Leicester Arts Festival in London, 6 February 1968. (photo provided by Lesley Hale, original photographer unknown)

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