An Evening On the Road and a Beatle Sandwich

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.

a beatle sandwich Paul McCartney rocks out on his Hofner bass at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1966.

Paul McCartney rocks out on his Hofner bass at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1966.

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.”

Bob Bonis

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!

Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Part II

the beatles, john lennon, paul mccartney, george harrison, ringo starr in bel air california august 23-24 1964 photo by bob bonis

The British Invasion was in full swing, and as The Beatles’ popularity grew, they became a worldwide sensation with rock-n-roll fans and popular media alike.

The press had already dubbed the worldwide phenomenon “Beatlemania.” Then, following the release of their second studio album With the Beatles, the band’s press officer Tony Barrow referred to the band as the “fabulous foursome” in a news release, which the media adopted as “The Fab Four.”

But on the fringes of “The Fab Four” were the outliers. While not officially part of the band, many people played a major part in their careers or personal lives – managers, agents, media, other artists and more. These people are sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” (sometimes by themselves!). Exactly who had rightful claim to the assumed title, however, is still up for debate. So who might the Fifth Beatle actually be? In Part I of this 2-part blog, we identified several candidates. Here we present the next list of royal contenders. What do you think?

Derek Taylor

A British journalist, writer and publicist, Derek Taylor is recognized mostly for his work as press officer for The Beatles. In true spin fashion, he is credited with coining the phrase “The Beatles Are Coming.” He was working as a journalist when he was asked to write a review of The Beatles’ May 30, 1963 concert. According to BeatlesBible.com, Taylor was expected to write a criticism of what the national press called an “inconsequential teen fad.” Instead, he was captivated by the music and praised the performance. Shortly afterwards, he was invited into the Beatles’ circle as a trusted journalist.

Neil Aspinall

A school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Neil Aspinall is best known for his work as the head of The Beatles’ company Apple Corps. In the band’s early years, the group employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant. Following the band’s return from their second trip to Hamburg in 1961, Aspinall left his job as an accountant to become The Beatles’ full time road manager. Following the break-up, he worked on expanding the band’s legacy with projects such as the Anthology records.

Mal Evans

In the early 1960s, Mal Evans was working as a telephone engineer and a part-time bouncer at the Cavern Club, a Liverpool music venue where the Beatles often performed. Beatles manager Brian Epstein eventually hired Evans as the group’s assistant road manager, working alongside Neil Aspinall. Evans contributed to several Beatles recordings and even appeared in some of the band’s films. After the band stopped touring in 1966, he continued to offer his assistance until their break-up in 1970.

George Martin

After recording the Beatles’ first studio album Please Please Me, English record producer Sir George Martin famously told the band, “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just made your first number one [record],” according to the BBC. He is often referred to as the Fifth Beatle due to his extensive involvement with each of the Beatles’ studio albums. Martin is also lauded as one of the best record producers in history. He was behind 30 number-one hits in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Ed Rudy

Being the only American reporter allowed to accompany The Beatles on their first United States tour, Ed Rudy was able to spend exclusive time with the band. In an interview with Examiner, Rudy said that going on tour with them was “an unforgettable and life-changing experience.” He was embedded with the band as they navigated the raging “Beatlemania,” where he was “in the midst of a very friendly, though sometimes accidentally dangerous, raging mob of American teenagers.” While promoting the band in broadcasts around the world, the Beatles dubbed him the Fifth Beatle.

While the Fifth Beatle moniker seems to be applied somewhat liberally, there was another man behind the scenes ensuring the Beatles’ continued success. While serving as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as The Rolling Stones on their first five U.S. Tours), Bob Bonis took it upon himself to chronicle the Beatles and the historic moments he shared with them in this most important time in their careers: coming to America and heralding The British Invasion.

Captured using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis’ iconic photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

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