History does not record where The Beatles were today (except for John, who was still in hospital), but they might have been at Hyde Park in London, where the Rolling Stones were playing a free concert for something on the order of a quarter-million to half-million people. (Also on the bill were King Crimson and several other bands of less repute.) The show went on as planned despite the death two days previously of Stones founder Brian Jones, who was commemorated by a poetry reading, after which (says the Wikipedia)

Several hundred cabbage white butterflies were released, despite the Royal authority having stipulated before the concert that any butterflies released by the Stones should be sterilised and should certainly not be of the voracious cabbage white genus (Pieris spp.). 2,500 butterflies were due to be released, but due to the hot weather, many of them died from lack of air in storage. [Charlie] Watts later said that the butterflies “were a bit sad, there were casualties. It was like the Somme.”

There’s some symbolism for you. And some dodgy behavior by those bad boys the Stones, who were not going to be bossed around by the park service, ecosystem be damned.

Mick Jagger was resplendent for the occasion in a studded leather collar and a white dress that had been custom-made for Sammy Davis Jr. At least that’s what Wikipedia says — that particular detail sounds very peculiar. (I know that it’s dubious to use Wikipedia as a source as much as I do, but I generally find it quite reliable in matters of pop culture; and if something happens to be wrong, what, am I going to get put in blog jail?) In this case, the ’pedia asserts, Mick

borrowed the dress, which had been made for Sammy Davis Jr. at the Mr. Fish boutique, and wore it to Prince Rupert Lowenstein’s white ball, where he had shown it to Princess Margaret. Jagger was only to wear it for half-an-hour at the Hyde Park concert, after which he tore it off to reveal a violet T-shirt and white loon pants.

The Stones may have looked great, but the consensus seems to be that they didn’t sound so good; they were underrehearsed and had trouble keeping their guitars in tune. Nonetheless the whole thing was filmed and later released as a movie called The Stones in the Park. A lot of it is on YouTube, here’s a taste:

That clip is worth it just to see Mick in his frock, looking like a pouty schoolteacher, asking the crowd “Are you going to be quiet or not?”

We also know from Kevin Cann’s Any Day Now that a prerelease version of “Space Oddity” was played over the PA in Hyde Park, exposing a huge crowd of young people to David Bowie’s upcoming single. But Bowie himself was not there — he was at the Royal Albert Hall, less than a mile away, where the Who were “premiering the live rendition of their concept album Tommy.” (Chuck Berry was the opening act.)

That’s right, these two things were both happening in London on the same day, just down the street from each other. The mind boggles. One or more Beatles might have been at the Royal Albert too — counting the holes, no doubt.

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