Strawberry Fields Forever

Promotional film • For The Beatles • Directed by Peter Goldmann


From Wikipedia:

Promotional film

By January 1967, Epstein was under pressure from the Beatles’ record company to release a new single by the group. Martin told him that they had recorded “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”, which, in his opinion, were “two all-time great songs”. The decision was made to issue them as a double A-side single, a format the Beatles had used for their previous single, “Eleanor Rigby” / “Yellow Submarine“, in August 1966. The Beatles produced a film clip for “Strawberry Fields Forever”, in a continuation of their policy since 1965 of avoiding the need to promote a single with numerous personal appearances on television. It was filmed on 30 and 31 January 1967 at Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent. The following week, the band shot part of the promotional film for “Penny Lane” at the same location.

The clip was directed by Peter Goldmann, a Swedish television director who had drawn inspiration in his work from Lester’s style in the Beatles’ 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night. Goldmann was recommended to the Beatles by their mutual friend Klaus Voormann. One of the band’s assistants, Tony Bramwell, served as producer. Bramwell recalls that, inspired by Voormann’s comment on hearing “Strawberry Fields Forever” – that “the whole thing sounded like it was played on a strange instrument” – he spent two days dressing up a large tree in the park to resemble “a piano and harp combined, with strings”. Writing in 2007, music critic John Harris remarked that Bramwell’s set design reflected the “collision of serenity and almost gothic eeriness” evident in the finished song.

The clip presented the Beatles’ new group image, since all four now sported moustaches, following Harrison’s lead when he left for India in September 1966. In addition to a horseshoe moustache, Lennon wore his round “granny” glasses for the first time as a member of the Beatles, in keeping with his look as Private Gripweed in How I Won the War, for which he had also shorn off his long hair. Combined with their psychedelic clothing, the band’s appearance contrasted sharply with the youthful “moptop” image of their touring years; this former image and identity had instead been adopted by the Monkees, an American television and recording act based on the Beatles as they had appeared in A Hard Day’s Night and Help! In author Kevin Courrier’s description, Lennon now resembled a character from an Arthur Conan Doyle mystery, while Harrison looked equally austere, with his beard and heavy balaclava.

Instead of a performance of the song, the clip relies on abstract imagery and features reverse film effects, long dissolves, jump-cuts including from day- to night-time, superimposition and extreme close-up shots. The Beatles are shown playing and later pouring paint over the upright piano; at one point, McCartney appears to leap from the ground onto a branch of the tree. In his commentary on the promo clip, music critic Chris Ingham writes:

Beautifully and spookily lit … much attention is given to close-ups of The Beatles’ faces and facial hair, as if the viewer is invited to contemplate the significance of the newly furry Fabs. There’s an appropriately surreal air about the film … which, when experienced simultaneously with The Beatles’ extraordinary new music, is deliciously disorientating. The final scene of The Beatles pouring pots of coloured paint onto the “piano” is oddly shocking, but brilliantly memorable as a statement of iconoclastic artistic intent.


[…] The promotional film for “Strawberry Fields Forever” was the more experimental of Goldmann’s clips and underlined the Beatles’ ties to the avant-garde scene. The band’s new look was the focus of much scrutiny, as promotion for the single and its musical content left many listeners unable to recognise the act as the Beatles. The films were first broadcast in America on The Ed Sullivan Show and in Britain on Top of the Pops, a day before the respective release dates in those two countries. On 25 February, they aired on The Hollywood Palace, a traditional US variety program hosted by actor Van Johnson. Amid screams from female members of the studio audience, Johnson bemusedly introduced “Strawberry Fields Forever” with the comment: “It’s a musical romp through an open field with psychedelic overtones and a feeling of expanded consciousness … If you know what that means, let me know …” The films attracted a similar level of confusion on the more youth-focused American Bandstand, on 11 March, where Dick Clark invited comments from his studio audience. In the description of author Doyle Greene, the varied opinions towards the “rebranded ‘counterculture Beatles'” and their new music demonstrated a “gendering” of popular culture: male reaction was marginally more favourable than female, and women variously focused on the “weird”, “ugly” or “grandfather”-like appearance of the band members. Courrier says the hostility towards “Strawberry Fields Forever” was reflective of how pop fans felt abandoned by the Beatles, with one teenager commenting that the group had turned “deliberately weird” and “ought to stop being so clever and give us tunes we can enjoy”.

From the liner notes of The Beatles’ 1+ Video Collection, 2015:

Filming took place in the grounds of historic Knole House, a National Trust property, on 30 January 1967 with director, Peter Goldmann. That first evening’s shoot, on 35mm film, took place on and around a dead oak tree close to the birdhouse. The following day they returned to film the daytime sequence of the film.

What Goldmann and The Beatles created was a defining pop promo film, at a time when few even realised that a band needed such a thing. The catalyst was the Musicians’ Union ban on miming on TV, which put pressure on The Beatles to come up with something imaginative. The MU may have inadvertently deprived their members of work, but then again the signs were definitely pointing towards MTV and the online video bonanza that makes worldwide promotion so simple. While the short clip from ‘Penny Lane’ was shown on the BBC’s Juke Box Jury on 11 February 1967, just an audio clip of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was featured; four days later both were shown in their entirety on Top of the Pops.

During the day of filming at Knole Park, John went shopping in nearby Sevenoaks, buying an antique circus poster that would be the starting point for the lyrics of ’Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!’. The Beatles recorded the track soon after for inclusion on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Beatles have made music into film. Paul and I spoke a great deal about this generation, and we are both convinced that what began essentially as a music form for young people is now for everyone. I received a cable from Mr Epstein and got a plane over to England the same day. Originally, my enthusiasm for presenting English groups on TV in Sweden was fired by Richard Lester’s fine film of The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night. I thought that was fantastic. My first meeting with the group was at Ringo’s house. He was very kind and took me for a walk in his garden with his wife Maureen, and their little white poodle, Tiger. I got my boots all muddy, and Ringo insisted on giving me another pair to replace them. That is really typical of him. I was very happy about working with The Beatles and I wanted to present their new music in an original and interesting manner on TV. I shot ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ in colour, although viewers in the UK will only be able to see them black and white and I am concerned that some of the clever lighting effects will not come off in two tones. Nearly everything went wrong during the filming, but The Beatles were very patient. The horses we got for the ‘Penny Lane’ clip proved to be spirited, and when The Beatles got off them, they just bolted. It took us a couple of hours to recapture them from the far side of the park. Then when I arranged this weird tree piano in a field for the ‘Strawberry Fields’ clip, all the wires we had tied to the branches of the tree broke in a gust of wind, and we had to begin again.

Peter Goldmann – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

Klaus Voorman came up with the idea of a strange instrument in a tree for the ‘Strawberry Fields’ promo. So, I had to find a site with a suitable tree, which was Knole Park. We found a piano, ripped it up, and then spent ages going up and down the tree with miles and miles of that glittery string you use to wrap Christmas presents. We didn’t have a storyline as such. We were just trying things out, like changing the speed of the camera, and running the film backwards.

Peter Goldmann – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

I was amazed to find that there was a ban in Britain which prevented The Beatles from miming to their record, but I cannot think that this serves any useful purpose. So I had to find settings and ideas which were sympathetic to their songs without turning them into comic actors. I found Ringo to be very well-informed on camera and photographic techniques, and Paul was a most entertaining conversationalist. The group had all informed me that I was the director and so I must direct.

Peter Goldmann – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

When you filmed your special TV sequences for the new single why didn’t you go up to the actual places mentioned in the songs? Up to Liverpool?

We hadn’t got time, really. We were in the middle of recording more LP material. That was all in the first ten days of February. So the director, a great Swedish bloke named Peter Goldmann, found a place in Kent. Knole Park Estate at Sevenoaks. It was just right for Strawberry Fields and much easier to get to from London. Then they took film shots of the real places in Liverpool to go with the shots of us. All very clever.

Ringo Starr – Interview with The Beatles Monthly Book, March 1967

BEATLES: ‘Strawberry’ single all set

BEATLES’ new single, out on February 11, is “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” And for the first time since the Beatles began recording, it brings a Liverpool theme into their songs.

For both titles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, are derived from areas of Liverpool.

The single is a double A-side and was one of three planned for their next LP. Manager Brian Epstein told Disc and Music Echo this week: “I feel this is their best single to date.”

The Beatles will be featured on “Top Of The Pops” with special films planned by Swedish TV producer Peter Goldmann, who is flying into Britain specially to film the boys. The films will be distributed to various TV companies.

The first quarter of a million new Beatles singles pressed by EMI will be sent out in special coloured, pictorial sleeve.

Because the two tracks have been taken from the Beatles’ LP recordings, it has not been decided whether to include them on the album.

From Disc And Music Echo – January 28, 1967
From Disc And Music Echo – January 28, 1967

Beatles on ‘Top of Pops’ — date set!

BEATLES are expected on BBC-TV’s “Top Of The Pops” on February 16 to promote their double single “Strawberry Fields For Ever” and “Penny Lane” which is released the next day.

Brian Epstein revealed to Disc and Music Echo that the boys spent Tuesday this week filming in the Kent countryside with Swedish TV film Peter Goldmann. Some of this film will be used for their “Top Of The Pops” appearance. Other clips may also be seen in America.

A TV spectacular featuring the group is to be based around their next album.

On Sunday, Beatles John and Paul joined Epstein in his box at London’s Saville Theatre to watch the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Who.

From Disc And Music Echo – February 4, 1967
From Disc And Music Echo – February 4, 1967


A film clip of THE BEATLES singing “Penny Lane” will not be shown on “Juke Box Jury” this Saturday as the BBC did not agree to show the clip in full. Clips of both titles be shown on “Top Of The Pops” next Thursday (16) but will not be shown this week.

Negotiations are currently in progress for Regional stations such as Southern TV and Granada to show the film clips.

EMI Records announce the renewal of their contract with the Beatles. The new contract for nine years has been signed by Sir Joseph Lockwood, head of EMI Records Ltd and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

The release of the first Beatle record “Love Me Do” was in October 1962 and that sold 100,000 copies. With the Gold Discs for their several million sellers, total world sales add up to 180,000,000 (that is in converting to single units as an LP counting as 6 singles and an EP as four). The announcement of the new contract ties up with the release of their first single of 1967, on Parlophone, of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

From Record Mirror – February 11, 1967

From 011 Nothing is Real: Strawberry Fields Forever, take 26 — Producing The Beatles : The Podcast
From Filming of the promotional film for the song “Strawberry Meadows Forever” – The Beatles History (
From Filming of the promotional film for the song “Strawberry Meadows Forever” – The Beatles History (
From Continuation of the filming of the promotional film for the song “Strawberry Meadows Forever” – The Beatles History (
From Sevenoaks Chronicle – February 3, 1967
From Meet the Beatles for Real: Paul and Mal – January 31, 1967 

Last updated on February 10, 2024

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