Today, five days after Brian Epstein’s death, Paul called a band meeting to discuss where to go from here. A John Lennon biography that I was perusing the other day suggested that Paul, rather cynically, sensed a power vacuum in Epstein’s absence and sought to take charge. I don’t know if that’s quite true, but at this point The Beatles needed a leader, and who was it going to be? Certainly not George or Ringo, and as for John, he didn’t much care to lead, or to follow. Wasn’t really a joiner; in retrospect it’s amazing he ever joined a band in the first place.

Paul’s suggestion was that they plow ahead with the idea of a Magical Mystery Tour movie in order to regain some much-needed momentum. He wanted to begin filming this very week, despite the fact that there was no script, no director, and no production infrastructure of any kind. What they did have was this:

Which Paul had sketched out some months earlier. (I love where it says, “Hire a coach. Yellow!”) Also, according to Bob Spitz’s The Beatles, “John had spent an afternoon in his swimming pool thinking up ideas for the script.” And that’s it.

Well, you have to admire Paul’s “let’s put on a show” spirit, even though we know the results. Nothing in The Beatles’ history prepared them for the idea that anything they did could fail. So, sure, let’s rent a bus and make a movie. It’ll be great!

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