Early Beatles History Revealed in Salisbury

18th June 2009

The Beatles didn't like jelly babies, all had leather overcoats and they never deliberately pushed Ringo to the back of the stage.

These fascinating, if slightly esoteric, insights into early Beatle's history are revealed in a wonderful three page letter written by George Harrison that was sold yesterday for £7,500 (plus premium). The letter was written in response to a piece of fan mail sent to him by the vendor (then a young girl living in London).

George wrote it from Bournemouthon 23rd August 1963, when the Fab Four were doing a six-day stint at the town's Gaumont Theatre (now the Odeon Cinema). The band's preferred hotel seems to have been the Palace Court Hotel (on whose headed paper the letter is written); they stayed there again in November of the same year when performing at the Winter Gardens, and the album cover for With the Beatles was photographed in the hotel corridor. 

In response to questions asked by his fan, George details the harmonies he sings in 'She Loves You' and in 'I'll Get You' - admitting to singing the wrong words in the middle part of the latter. These songs (an A and B side) were actually released as a single on the day George Harrison wrote this letter; half a million advance orders had already been received and the band had already had hits earlier that year with 'Please Please Me' and 'Love Me Do'. 'She Loves You' reached number 1 in the UK charts on 4th September.

Clearly accused by his fan of keeping Ringo Starr hidden at the back of the stage, George goes on to insist that he, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had in fact tried to push Ringo into the limelight by offering to play the drums for some numbers so he could join in the dance routines and singing. Ringo, it appears, politely declined. In George's opinion, "I think he was scared".

One of the most personal insights into what it was like onstage with the Beatles comes in the post script of the letter, where George gently chastises his correspondent for throwing jelly babies and wine gums onto the stage at their concerts, "think how we feel trying to dodge the stuff before you throw some more at us…. I was hit in the eye once with a boiled sweet, and it's not funny!"

The letter, complete with stamped and postmarked envelope, was sold in the Paintings, Books and Manuscripts sale, where it made tenfold its conservative mid-estimate. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn refers to 1963 as "the year that it all went beserk", when the band turned from a pub quartet into the Fab Four, and it is this, coupled with the insights it provides into their early history, which surely made it such an appealing piece.

< Back to News & Events

Auction Alerts

Please select all that apply and we’ll send you alerts when catalogues become available. You can update your alerts or unsubscribe at any time.

{{bidBasket.basketItems | json}}
You have {{bidBasket.basketItems.length}} items in your basket
View Bid Basket