The Beatles in Manila, 1966

Michael Gerber
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Beatles Manila poster

“Maybe your last chance to see the Beatles! Don’t ask how we know this!”

And what does the ol’ “to-post” file have for us this morning? Why, it’s a webpage dedicated to the Beatles in Manila, the feel-baddiest moment in all of Beatlemania.

We all know the story of their ill-fated trip to the Philippines — “snubbing” Imelda Marcos, their security mysteriously disappearing, Fabs and entourage making wills and quietly peeing themselves as they waited on the tarmac — but this site has some nice added bits.

(By the way, I’ve always assumed that it’s even odds the Beatles knew about the invite, but simply blew it off because they were hungover. Come on; they were rock stars, and what else is there to do in Manila after a concert? But I have no evidence for this, just a Spidey sense that this rather obvious likelihood was hushed up after things got violent, for better Beatle optics. And history proved the Marcos’ to be totalitarian assholes, so…)

After re-reading the whole thing, I’m amazed it didn’t get even uglier. The Beatles surviving the wrath of a tinpot dictator was perhaps the last great wheeze of Beatle luck; five weeks later, the guys were off to Chicago and the “bigger than Jesus” controversy would begin.

Or maybe it already had? Maybe Imelda’s gotten a bad rap; maybe the true enemies of the Beatles in Manila were a bunch of Filipino dudes named Jesus, sensitive about their height.

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7 Comments

  1. Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

    I associate “What about the night we cried / because there wasn’t any reason left to keep it all inside?” in “Here Today” with the Manila incident. I don’t know if there’s any evidence for that from anything McCartney’s said, but it seems like this was definitely a crying occasion.

  2. karen Hooper karen Hooper wrote:

    I rather think J and P had several nights like that, considering how stressful the tours became.

  3. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    By the way, I’ve always assumed that it’s even odds the Beatles knew about the invite, but simply blew it off …

    You are right. I got curious, so to refresh my memory I poked around youtube. Saw the 1966 press conference where they insisted they “didn’t know about the invite, it was all a big mistake!” and then watched the 1995 Anchovy interviews where they honestly admit they refused to go because it was their day off. They didn’t expect the whole thing to blow up the way it did. Maybe in 1966 they were coached by Brian to give their “big mistake!” talking points.

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