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1966 highlights

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After a busy end to 1965, which saw the completion of their album “Rubber Soul” and a UK tour, the Beatles were supposed to start filming their third film at the beginning of 1966, which was based on the script “A Talent For Loving“. However, in mid-December, the project was cancelled. As a result, The Beatles had a break of about three months in early 1966.

Paul McCartney continued his exploration of the London arts scene, looking for inspiration for his music and enjoying being around other creative people. He helped to launch the underground Indica bookstore, connected with art dealer Robert Fraser (who would become a friend), acquired his first painting by Magritte, attended a lecture by Luciano Berio, a pioneer in electronic music, created some experimental films

By early April, the Beatles reconvened in the recording studio to begin work on their seventh album, “Revolver. The recording process spanned over three months, the longest they had dedicated to any album thus far. Released in August 1966, “Revolver” was a critical and commercial success, and it is considered to be one of the most influential albums of all time. It featured sophisticated songwriting, pioneering studio techniques, and an eclectic blend of musical genres, from classical orchestrations to psychedelia. Abandoning the customary group photograph, its cover – designed by Klaus Voormann, a long-time friend since their Hamburg days – was a monochrome collage intertwined with line-drawing caricatures of the group. The album was preceded in June 1966 by the single “Paperback Writer”, backed by “Rain”. Both tracks were promoted with short films.

That same month, Capitol Records in the US released an LP called “Yesterday and Today“, comprising songs from “Rubber Soul” and from the upcoming “Revolver” album. The cover, which portrayed the grinning Beatles dressed in butcher’s overalls, accompanied by raw meat and mutilated plastic baby dolls, caused an uproar. Consequently, thousands of copies of the LP were reissued with a revised cover. This was the first of several controversies that would touch the Beatles that year.

Also in June 1966, Paul acquired a secluded farm in Scotland, which later served as a refuge during his tenure with Wings alongside his first wife, Linda. He also moved into his new house in Cavendish Avenue, London, which would remain his London pied-à-terre for the rest of his life.

In the latter half of June, the Beatles embarked on their last world tour, with stops in Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and the US. The tour was riddled with controversies. In Japan, the bookings at the Budokan, a venue reserved for martial arts, offended many traditionalists, resulting in death threats to the Beatles. In the Philippines, the Beatles were accused of snubbing the nation’s first lady, Imelda Marcos. The band also faced a backlash from US religious and social conservatives over a comment John Lennon had made in a March interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave, which resurfaced in a US publication in July. “Christianity will go. It will vanish and sink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock’n’roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

Their performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966, marked their final commercial concert, culminating years of relentless touring encompassing over 1,400 international shows.

In September and October, Paul took time off for personal pursuits. By late October, he began crafting music for the soundtrack of the film The Family Way. In late November 1966, the Beatles regrouped at Abbey Road to produce “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” poised to be their inaugural 1967 single.

In the mid-’60s, John was living out in the suburbs, leading a sort of pipe-and-slippers existence, getting very bored with married life. I was the one who was living in London, going to theatres and art galleries checking out amazing stuff like John Cage and Stockhausen, reading loads of far-out books, hanging out with Harold Pinter and Bertrand Russell, making my own experimental movies, forming my own ideas, which started filtering into the Beatles records.

Paul McCartney – From interview with UNCUT, July 2004

Singles and EPs released in 1966

Albums released in 1966

Albums Paul McCartney contributed to, released in 1966

Films released in 1966

Concerts, TV & radio shows in 1966

Recording sessions in 1966

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1966 interviews

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