Beatles and Paris
George was being paid £100 for his Daily Express column and on his first night in Paris, while John and Paul stayed in the hotel listening to records, he went out with Derek to a club in the Place Pigalle.
Part of his column in the Express read, “There are hundreds of
marvelous chicks here – neat, very much in control of themselves, (I’m still looking for a Brigitte Bardot – the wild, reckless type.)
“If you look at a French girl she looks straight back, and smiles. It simply means ‘Thank you.’”
Neil Aspinall, the Beatles road manager commented, “Whilst we were at the George V Hotel, a lot of exciting things were happening. As well as George Martin being there for the German recordings, Derek Taylor was around interviewing George for the Daily Express column he was doing for him. John was working on his second book, ‘A Spaniard in the Works’. At the same time they'd just got Dylan's first album and David Wynne was there, too; he did the sculptures of The Beatles' heads.
A major event was the news that they had topped the American charts. Paul remembered, “One night we arrived back at the hotel from the Olympia when a telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, 'Hey, look. You are Number One in America!' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' had gone to Number One.
“Well, I can't describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal's back to go round the hotel suite: 'Wey-hey!' And that was it; we didn't come down for a week.”
Ringo said, “We couldn't believe it. We all just started acting like people from Texas, hollering and shouting, 'Ya-hoo!' I think that was the night we finished up sitting on a bench by the Seine; just the four of us and Neil.”
George recalled, “It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to Number One. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was... well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And the waiter came round and tied garters on all the girls' legs. I've seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head.
“It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a Number One. We'd already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a Number Two or Number Ten we'd have gone anyway; but it was nice to have a Number One.
“We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, 'Oh, we will have them.' They put out 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' as our first single, but in fact it was our fourth.”
John was to say, “The thing is, in America, it just seemed ridiculous - I mean, the idea of having a hit record over there. It was just something you could never do. That's what I thought, anyhow. But then I
realized that kids everywhere all go for the same stuff; and seeing we'd done it in England, there's no reason why we couldn't do it in America, too. But the American disc jockeys didn't know about British records; they didn't play them, nobody promoted them, so you didn't have hits.”
Mal Evans was to say, “They went mad! They always act this way when anything big happens – just a bunch of kids, jumping up and down with sheer delight. Paul climbed on my back demanding a piggy back. They felt that this was the biggest thing that could have happened. Gradually they quietened down, ordered some more drinks and sat down to appreciate fully what had happened. It was a wonderful,
marvelous night for them. I was knocked out.”
The next time the Beatles appeared in Paris was when they opened their short European tour at the Palais Des Sports in the Place de la Porte de Versailles on Sunday 20 June 1965. They appeared on two shows at the arena, the first at 3.00pm and the second at 9.00pm. The second show was broadcast by both French Television and radio and the two houses were full to the 6,000 capacity – something which hadn’t happened for several years.
Their repertoire comprised: Twist and Shout, She’s A Woman, I’m A Loser, Can’t Buy Me Love, Baby’s In Black, I Wanna Be Your Man, A Hard Day’s Night, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Rock And Roll Music, I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride and Long Tall Sally.
The group received a tremendous reception after their final number, Long Tall Sally. Ringo had a solo spot with I Wanna Be Your Man and George had sung lead on Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby. There was enthusiastic applause for Paul when he tried to introduce several songs in French.
The Yardbirds were also on the bill.
(Jacques comments: “Again this was shot by French television and recorded by Europe No. 1. The TV programme was shot by Jean-Christophe Averty. This famous French director hated rock and roll and dismissed the Beatles as minor musicians. He is still a big Jazz fan and says that he considers he did a very bad job with the Beatles concert. For years he banned the showing of the film again, until I provided all the necessary information to Apple to get the masters back from INA (the national film archives) to include in the Beatles Anthology.
“Bruno Coquatrix had booked them in 1965 for their concerts at the Palais des Sports in Paris and Lyons on 22nd July and Nice on 30th July (this latter date was almost cancelled because there were not enough tickets sold). Coquatrix was also involved with Paul when he came back to the Olympia with Wings on 16th July 1972.”)
After the show Francoise Hardy visited the group at the George V Hotel and later they visited Castell’s nightclub. While at the George V the group were also interviewed by disc jockey Chris Denning for the Radio Luxembourg weekly series ‘The Beatles.’ Denning asked each member to dedicate their songs to certain people. This was really a tongue-in-cheek choice. John went for British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Paul’s choice included his family and three newspaper critics: Wolf Mankowitz, Donald Zec and Bernard Levin. Ringo dedicated his song choice to Daily Mirror journalist Don Short, Daily Express writer Judith Simons and fan club secretary Frieda Kelly. George dedicated a song to: “All of the miners in Scunthorpe.”
Editor’s Note: In the past there have been two different amounts quoted for the 21st present John received from his Aunt: £40 and £100. I contacted John’s cousin Stan, Aunt Elizabeth’s son, and he told me: “My mother gave John £100. Paul was amazed at that and said, ‘My God, you must have a rich Aunt! He and Paul then went off on a holiday in Paris and there are pictures of him and Paul under the Eiffel Tower somewhere.”
There have also been two different spellings used in relation to the name of their German recording man: Otto Demler and Otto Demmlar. I have used the latter because this is how George Martin spelt it.
Jacques checked over my copy and added comments of his own. Jacques was born on 6 June 1956 and launched a club called ‘Le Club des 4 de Liverpool’ in 1973. He says, “For different reasons it appears that the Beatles impact is less important in my country than it is in the rest of the world. I have spent a good part of the last thirty years working to change this in France.
Jacques is regarded as the leading Beatles expert in France and has been involved with all the re-issues of Beatles records in his country. He was also press officer when ‘Yellow Submarine’ was released in French cinemas in 1990 and has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes discussing the Beatles.
He adds: “I am also the author of eight books about the Beatles that are considered among the best printed in the French language, including one about George Harrison that was published in March 2002 and which proved to be a success with excellent reviews including several from England.”