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I want to follow up a little bit on yesterday’s entry, which touched on a live appearance by The Beatles at a concert sponsored by the British music newspaper NME (New Musical Express). Apparently there was a lot of controversy surrounding this show, which is touched upon in John McMillian’s book Beatles vs. Stones.

According to McMillian, The Beatles had agreed to appear on the condition that they would not close the show. The worry was that if they went on last, their fans would throng the exit, trapping them in the arena. Meanwhile, NME had also been negotiating with the Rolling Stones, who had agreed to appear with the stipulation that they wouldn’t be on right before The Beatles. “They didn’t want to cement their status as England’s second-biggest group,” says McMillian, “or appear before their fans as if they were the Fab Four’s warm-up act.”

All well and good, but it didn’t turn out to be that easy.

According to the schedule, after the Stones were done performing, NME was to hand out everyone’s awards, and then the Beatles would play four songs. When the Stones were about halfway through their set, however, the Beatles had turned up at the bottom of the stage, carrying their guitars. Lennon announced they were going on next.

A standoff ensued between NME’s Maurice Kinn and Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein insisted that The Beatles were going on next, Kinn was adamant that they were not. Epstein and Lennon were not used to being told no, but in the end they relented, though not happily.

According to Kinn, after Epstein explained the situation to Lennon, “John absolutely exploded! He gave me abuse like you’ve never heard before in all your life. You could hear him all over the backstage area. He said, ‘We’ll never play for you again.’”

And they did not. The Beatles played just four songs — “I Feel Fine,” “Nowhere Man,” “If I Needed Someone, and “I’m Down” — and that turned out to be the Beatles’ last regularly scheduled performance in the UK.

That last bit is a reference to the fact that they did actually play live one more time in England — on the roof of Apple HQ in 1969. But at this point that is far in the future.

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