Road trips, yoga and LSD with the dentist: what the Beatles did next

Craig Brown in The Guardian:

On 29 August 1966, the Beatles closed their set at the Candlestick Park baseball stadium in San Francisco with “Long Tall Sally”, an old Little Richard number that had been part of their repertoire from the very start. “See you again next year,” said John as they left the stage. The group then clambered into an armoured car and were driven away. It was to be their last proper concert. Their American tour had been exhausting, sporadically frightening, and unrewarding. By this stage their delight in their own fame had worn off. They were fed up with all the hassle of touring, and tired of the way the screaming continued to drown out the music, so that even they were unable to hear it. Having been shepherded into an empty, windowless truck after a particularly miserable show in a rainy St Louis, Paul said to the others: “I really fucking agree with you. I’ve fucking had it up to here too.”

“We’ve been telling you for weeks!” came the reply. On their flight back to England, George told press officer Tony Barrow: “That’s it. I’m not a Beatle any more.” Like the others, but perhaps more so, after 1,400 shows he was sick to death of playing live: at the age of 23, he had had enough. For the first time in years, the four of them were able to take a break from being Beatles. With three months free, they could do what they liked. Ringo chose to relax at home with his wife and new baby. John went to Europe to play Private Gripweed in Richard Lester’s film How I Won the War. George flew to Bombay to study yoga and to be taught to play the sitar by Ravi Shankar. This left Paul to his own devices.

For a while, he enjoyed himself in London, immersing himself in the counter-culture, as the avant garde was then briefly known. By now he was one of the most famous men in the world. Even as a member of an audience, or a visitor to a gallery, he was always the centre of attention. So at the beginning of November he decided to conduct a little experiment: what would it be like to be normal?

More here.

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