1968 • For The Beatles • Directed by George Dunning
May 21, 1968
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On this day, the world premiere of the animated film “Yellow Submarine” took place at the London Pavilion on Piccadilly Circus, London. The four Beatles attended the event (and the after-party), but Paul McCartney was the only one arriving alone. His fiancée Jane Asher was absent and would announce the end of their relationship three days after.
Among the other guests were Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, Ginger Baker from Cream, some members of the The Who, Status Quo, The Bee Gees, Grapefruit.
Afterwards, they attended the celebration party at the Royal Lancaster Hotel. Paul spent some time talking to Clem Curtis, lead singer of The Foundations, and promised to write a song for this group. This promise never materialized.
From The Beatles Book, N°62, September 1968:
Shortly after eight o’clock on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, 1968, Beatlemania gripped tightly on London’s West End for the first time in a couple of years. In all directions – along Piccadilly and down Regent Street, up the length of Shaftesbury Avenue – traffic came to a standstill as thousands upon thousands of fans gathered as close as they could get to the London Pavilion theatre to see the Beatles arrive for the World Premiere of “Yellow Submarine”.
Lines of London “bobbies” linked arms to hold back the pressing masses of bodies belonging to faithful Beatle People. The last time Piccadilly Circus had seen this kind of thing was back in the Julys of 1964 and 1965 when “A Hard Day’s Night” and then “Help!” had their equally spectacular gala openings!
In the theatre’s narrow foyer scores of reporters and cameramen jostled with the famous. The Beatles Monthly publisher Sean O’Mahony, editor Johnny Dean, photographer Leslie Bryce, and yours truly wedged ourselves at the foot of the staircase as the celebrities began to arrive.
“I hope one of you will buy me a drink or two after all this!”, muttered a perspiring Irishman, a Pavilion staffman whose impossible task seemed to be to keep a clear passage for the stars and yet to let the Press photographers get their stuff.
Two people covered from head to feet in yellow bandages handed out apples. An enormous Blue Meanie pranced about on the pavement. A Rolling Stone struggled through the doorway. Some Bee Gees, Ginger Baker of the Cream and most of the Grapefruit foursome arrived. Twiggy and Justine held an unscheduled Press conference on the stairs to announce their engagement.
Of the Beatles, Ringo was first to arrive. Maureen was with him, wearing a beautiful white lace blouse. Then came George in yellow suit and matching hat with a Yellow Submarine badge just above his forehead. Pattie wore yellow, too — with a purple headband. Last came Paul, John and Yoko Ono – Paul sporting a very fine yellow silk tie, John in a white suit with a dark-blue, ruffle-fronted shirt.
Inside the theatre a short cartoon feature was already on the screen. But that didn’t slop the television crews following each freshly-arrived Beatle all the way into the circle and down to the centre of the front row, cameras whirling and bright hand-held lamps shining out about them!
The end of the film was by no means the end of the evening’s celebrations. From Piccadilly Circus, streams of cars crossed London to the Bayswater Road and The Royal Lancaster Hotel. There the Rank Organisation threw a celebrity party to launch their new Yellow Submarine discotheque room. Most of the famous faces we’d seen over at the Pavilion re-appeared between 11 p.m. and midnight at the Royal Lancaster. Southern Television were organising star interviews. Deejays like Pete Brady. Tony Blackburn, Simon Dee and Kenny Everett were tucking into plates of help-yourself salad. Fan club secretary Freda Kelly and her husband, Brian, chatted to a variety of Beatle backroom boys from NEMS and Apple. On the fresh-air side of the big glass doors Piccadilly’s Beatles People re-assembled for further glimpses of their fave foursome. Downstairs in the Yellow Submarine discotheque at least 100 people did their best to dance in an area which might accommodate 50 in comfort. Champagne was served with much generosity by dozens of waiters. Gradually one found one’s feet grinding more and more broken glasses into the carpet – not because of wild carelessness on the part of the guests – but because the tight crush made spillings and smashings all too inevitable.
At various moments all four Beatles dropped in. Again Ringo was first – the others were still finishing dinner at a nearby restaurant. You could tell if there was a new Beatle in the room because the crush would ease off where you were and increase in the region around the latest arrival!
All told the whole crowded, yellow, star-studded, champagne-sparkled evening gave the Beatles’ cartoon film a splendid send-off! And for weeks afterwards there were all-evening queues outside the Pavilion and Studio One, the pair of West End cinemas at which “Yellow Submarine” was being shown. Indeed, both locations reported capacity business all along the line.
Now the film is playing at strings of leading theatres throughout the country, in major cities and key resorts. Again it seems as though “Yellow Submarine” is proving a record-breaking box office attraction – despite that brief spate of exaggerated Press stories at the beginning of August suggesting that the film wasn’t as popular as everyone expected it to be outside London’s West End.Frederick James
Go down to the Revolution, we thought. Take a photographer and get some pictures of the star names. And what a night we picked! It was the premiere night of “Yellow Submarine” and the club was chock full of pop people afterwards.
Not that this Not that this was a great surprise, for the Revolution (in Bruton Mews, just off Mayfair’s Berkeley Square) is currently enjoying a run as the most popular of the “in” places.
It was, in fact, the night of another premiere that the doors opened for the first time. Then the film was “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” on January 4 and after the film the party was held there.
Since then, regulars have included Julie Christie, Francoise Hardy, Terry Stamp, Dahlia Lavi, Mia Farrow, Paul McCartney, Peter Sellers, Nina Simone, the Grapefruit, the Bee Gees, plus most pop writers, photographers, fashion designers and leading hair stylists. […]
Paul McCartney and Clem Curtis (of the Foundations) shared a table and by the end of the evening Paul had promised to write a song for the Foundations – proof of the club’s conviviality!From New Musical Express – August 3, 1968
Last updated on October 3, 2021
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