On this day on history….12th March 1969

On this day in history : 12th March 1969 – Paul McCartney marries US photographer Linda Eastman at Marylebone Registry Office….

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Linda McCartney – Image courtesy: Kristine via Flickr

Paul and Linda had first met on the 15th of May 1967, in Soho nightclub ‘Bag O’ Nails’…. Linda was in the UK to take photographs for a book called ‘Rock and Other Four-Letter Words’…. A few days later she met him again at a photo shoot of the Beatles….but was soon afterwards to return home to the States and her own life with young daughter, Heather – from a previous marriage…. Paul, meanwhile, was to become engaged to long-term girlfriend, Jane Asher…. However, a year later, in May 1968 the pair met up again in New York – and Paul invited Linda and her daughter to London…. A romance was to blossom….

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Photo credit: Spudgun67 CC BY-SA 4.0

The wedding was supposed to be a secret – but these things have a habit of leaking out…. Even though the registry office had only been booked the day before reporters and photographers were waiting outside it, in the rain, from 7am…. So were the fans….hundreds of them, many visibly distraught…. Paul was the last bachelor Beatle….their teenage dreams of becoming Mrs Paul McCartney shattered forever….img_2552

The couple arrived at 10am, entering the building via a side door to avoid the crowds; the other members of the Beatles did not attend…. Paul wore a dark suit, with a floral shirt and yellow kipper tie….whilst Linda wore a fawn coloured dress with a yellow coat…. Heather carried a posy of freesias….

The ceremony was delayed for an hour…. Paul’s brother, Michael, who was best man and acting as a witness, was travelling down from Birmingham – but his train had broken down…. On arriving in London he headed to the registry office assuming he was too late – but the wedding party had waited for him…. The other witness was the Beatles’ assistant, Mal Evans….

After the ceremony the newly wed Mr and Mrs McCartney made their way down the steps to their waiting car….throwing freesias to the crowd as they went….

On this day in history….4th March 1966

On this day in history : 4th March 1966 – John Lennon gives an interview in which he states the Beatles are more popular than Jesus Christ – it causes outrage in the United States….

The interview was for the Evening Standard….it was the first in a series of articles entitled “How Does a Beatle Live?” Each member of the group was individually interviewed – starting with John Lennon at his home in Weybridge….

“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll 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”….

His words provoked no reaction from the public in the UK…. However, in July 1966 it was quoted in a US teen magazine and was received in America in a very different manner….

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Image : YouTube

The publication that had been granted rights to all four interviews was a magazine called ‘Datebook’. Being broad-minded – covering topics such as the legalisation of marijuana and inter-racial relationships – it was considered the most suitable for publishing the interviews…. Datebook teased its readers with the snippet “I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity” printed on the front cover….

Tommy Charles a DJ for WAQY, a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama heard of the comments – and was furious…. “That does it for me. I am not going to play the Beatles any more”…. The listeners were asked for their opinions – and they were less than favourable….the people were beginning to show their contempt….

The ball started to roll….more than twenty other radio stations followed suit and banned Beatles music…. The public were keen to show their anger – in the South especially – demonstrations were held, bonfires lit, Beatles memorabilia and records burned…. Soon the protests crossed over to Mexico and on to other particularly religious countries – such as Spain and South Africa…. The Vatican issued a public denouncement of Lennon’s comments….

Unfortunately the controversy coincided with the upcoming US tour scheduled for August and the recent release of the album ‘Revolver’….

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Fair use

Lennon apologised for his comments, cheekily saying “If I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it”…. The Press were somewhat sympathetic….

However, it was touch and go as to whether the tour would go ahead – but it was decided that it should…. Overshadowed by disturbances and protests – even being picketed by the Ku Klux Klan – some dates were cancelled, such as Memphis – because the Beatles were not welcome in town….

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Bruce Morrow (with microphone) interviewing John Lennon about his Jesus remark in August 1966 image credit : REALROCK123 CC BY-SA-4.0

There was some support for the Beatles though…. One Kentucky radio station said it would play Beatles music in order to show its “contempt for hypocrisy personified”…. And a Jesuit magazine – ‘America’ – wrote that “Lennon was simply stating what many a Christian educator would readily admit”….

 

On this day in history….19th February 1968

On this day in history. : 19th February 1968 – The High Court awards 62 children compensation after they are born with deformities after their mothers took the drug thalidomide during pregnancy….

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The two enantiomers of thalidomide : Left: (S)-(-)- thalidomide : Right: (R)-(+)-thalidomide

Thalidomide can only be described as a dark chapter in the history of pharmaceutical history…. It was developed in the 1950s, by West German pharmaceutical company the Grünenthal Group. It was licensed in the UK by The Distillers Company (Biochemicals) Ltd….

The drug was marketed as a sedative and mild sleeping pill – safe enough even for pregnant women to take…. It became extremely popular with expectant mothers as it was also found to ease morning sickness…. So safe was it deemed that it could be bought over the counter….

Thalidomide became available in the UK in 1958…. It was in 1961 that Australian doctor, William McBride, wrote to the medical publication, The Lancet, with his observations of an increase in deformed babies born to mothers who had used the drug…. It was removed from the UK market in late 1961 after tests concluded that it impaired foetal development….

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Congenital malformation of the feet. Effects of maternal drugs – thalidomide. Image credit: Otis Historical Archives via Flickr

Babies born to mothers who had taken Thalidomide were often born with limbs that had failed to develop properly – but sometimes it affected eyes, ears and internal organs…. The severity of cases varied…. It is unknown how many miscarriages may have been caused by it…. Worldwide it could have been anywhere up to 100,000 women who had used the drug to alleviate their morning sickness symptoms – well over 400 victims were born in the UK….

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Terry Wiles (right) who was born with phocomelia due to thalidomide. Public domain

After the High Court ruling in 1968 many other claims were settled out of court. In 1973, after pressure from the press and public, Distillers finally agreed to establish a trust fund and make lump sum payouts to all affected children….

Thalidomide resulted in tougher drug testing and approval procedures – but tragically for so many it was too little too late…. Nowadays Thalidomide is sometimes used as a treatment for certain types of cancer. From 2004 it became available on a named patient basis – meaning doctors can prescribe it but under strict controls….

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Pack of Thalidomide tablets circa 2006 or later. Stephencdickson via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

On this day in history….18th February 1969

On this day in history : 18th February 1969 – The marriage of Lulu and Maurice Gibb (of the Bee Gees) in a Buckinghamshire church – thousands of fans flock to see….

Lulu and Maurice had met in a BBC canteen whilst filming for Top of the Pops…. Lulu was 20 and Maurice 19…. In a whirlwind romance they moved in together in Highgate, north London and were married soon after….

The marriage took place at St. James’ Church, Gerrard’s Cross…. It was thought of as the ‘showbiz wedding of the year’….

Lulu had tried to keep the wedding plans quiet – it was to be a small family affair…. She and the three Gibb brothers were the only celebrities present…. However, word got out and thousands of fans, mostly women, clamoured to see the pop stars….

 

Lulu arrived 20 minutes late in a green Rolls Royce….as she did so the crowd surged forward, some – including children – were hurt…. The police had to form a cordon in order to allow her to reach the church…. She wore a long, white, fur-trimmed coat with a fur hood over a white silk mini-dress….

Inside the church waiting were Maurice and his best man, brother Robin…. Barry was also at the wedding – although he had raised concerns about the marriage as he believed the couple to be too young….

After the service, which was conducted by the Reverend Gordon Harrison, the newly weds found themselves trapped in the church for a further 10 minutes whilst a path could be cleared to their waiting car…. They were then whisked away to a reception in London….

 

Four years into the marriage Maurice was frequently out night-clubbing, drinking heavily and indulging in mammoth spending sprees…. On one notorious 4-day splurge he bought an Aston Martin, a Bentley and a Rolls Royce…. Lulu could take no more – the couple separated and in 1975 she divorced him – although they remained on good terms…. Maurice died of a heart attack in January 2003….

On this day in history….30th January 1969

On this day in history : 30th January 1969 – The Beatles play an impromptu concert on the rooftop of Apple Records in London…. It is to be their last public performance….

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Via Photo Community Site

It was a bitterly cold Thursday lunchtime, many were on their lunch break when they were surprised by the loud music coming from the rooftop of No.3 Savile Row – the home of Apple Records…. At first there was some confusion – but then as word spread crowds gathered in the street, five storeys below….and people climbed out on to the rooftops of neighbouring buildings….

The Beatles had been recording their album ‘Let it Be’ in the basement studio at Apple Records and had been planning a live performance since earlier in the month….but the idea of performing on the roof had only come about a couple of days before….

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Image credit: Jan via Flickr

George, Ringo, John and Paul – accompanied by a young Billy Preston on keyboards – treated their delighted audience to a 42 minute set which included songs such as “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Get Back”…. It was their first ‘gig’ since they had stopped touring in 1965 – and it was to be their last, as by September 1969 the Beatles had unofficially disbanded….

Unfortunately, not everybody was happy about the unexpected entertainment…. The Metropolitan police were concerned about safety, traffic issues and noise disturbance…. Policeman Ken Wharfe later said that he had been ordered by his superiors to “turn that noise off”….

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3, Savile Row, London, the location of the concert – public domain – Misterweiss via English Wikipedia

On arriving at Apple Records the police were initially refused entry into the building by staff – but when threatened with arrest they had to back down…. As the police reached the rooftop the Beatles realised their concert was about to be brought to an end – but managed to carry on for several more minutes. Paul McCartney changed the lyrics to “Get Back” to something more fitting for the situation….

“You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested”….

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Fair Use

John Lennon finished up by saying…. “I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition”….