Old man winter had the United Kingdom in his grips, and The Beatles had to get back home. But little did they know, surviving the cross-country journey from London to Liverpool would require an uncanny fight for survival.
The date was January 21, 1963. The Fab Four had just played a concert at the infamous Cavern Club in Liverpool the night before, but their next show (at that same venue) wasn’t for another couple days. In the meantime, they were needed in the studio for a recording session and for an interview with UK newspaper The Daily Mail.
After a full day, The Beatles piled into their tour van and trekked back home, braving the elements. They set off around 10 p.m. with London’s notorious fog encroaching upon them and the road. Mal Evans, The Beatles’ road manager, gripped the wheel as they made the voyage, but fate wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
A Rock vs. Rock-n-Roll
The gear and the boys were in tow and Evans was at the helm when they were jolted by an intense and harsh thwack. The windshield had been dealt a critical blow, and the cracks had spider-webbed out to the edges of the frame, making it impossible for Evans to see the road.
For Evans, The Beatles were his life. In the column “Here, there and everywhere” with The Sunday Times, author Mark Edmonds explores Mal Evans’ lost diaries and the events of that night.
In the January 21, 1963 entry, Evans wrote, “Met a lot of fog… suddenly after leaving [a restaurant] short time windscreen cracked with a terrible bang.” But Evans had a solution, though, but not one of elegance.
“Had to break a hole in the windscreen to see…” Evans wrote in his diary. And so, in below-freezing temperatures, The Beatles were forced to fight for their survival. To fend off the infringing cold being funneled through the windshield, The Beatles had to act quickly.
“A Beatle Sandwich”
Like most wilderness survival stories, The Beatles had to huddle together for warmth. But with limited space and the awkward seating arrangement of the van, they were left with few options.
Armed with a bottle of whiskey, the group took to piling on top of one another. In The Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney referred to this moment in rock-n-roll history as the “Beatle Sandwich.” Unfortunately, McCartney did not identify his bandmates by their sandwich ingredient pseudonyms.
After stopping for tea, the Fab Four eventually made it home to Liverpool where they were able to sleep off the deep chill. In his diary, Evans wrote, “They were on that night at Cavern as fresh as ever with no after effects. The Beatles have certainly gone up in my estimation. They are all great blokes with a sense of humor and giving one the feeling they are a real team.”
Although Bob Bonis might have never witnessed a “Beatle Sandwich” through his camera’s viewfinder, but it’s likely he bought The Beatles a sandwich or two while he served as their U.S. Tour Manager. Along with his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis managed The Beatles on all three of their American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond).
Bonis traveled with The Beatles at the height of their popularity and practiced his love for photography while the boy from Liverpool sang about love onstage. These rare and previously unreleased photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive. Each strictly limited edition, fine art photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!