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!

Brian Epstein: Two Sides of a Valuable Coin

All four Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison board an airplane at the SeaTac airport in Washington, Augst 22, 2964

While The Beatles became accustomed to being embroiled in controversy, there was a key player behind the scenes of the band’s success and image that created a drama of its own.

Brian Epstein, born September 19, 1934, is best known for his role as The Beatles’ manager and is largely credited with their discovery, as well as a key player in their rise to fame.

His management of the band was undoubtedly important to their success, but his business dealings drew much criticism, and the man’s personal life was a whirlwind of gambling and drug abuse that would ultimately become the catalyst for his demise.

When Epstein first heard of The Beatles, he was working at his family’s record and musical instrument shop. Then, on the fateful day of November 9, 1961, he saw the group perform onstage at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

The group he saw on stage that night, though, was in direct need of an “Epsteinification.” They just didn’t know it yet. At the time, according to History.com, they would eat and drink onstage between songs, dress in all-black leather, and play only cover songs.

Epstein and The Beatles’ Rise to Fame

But nonetheless, The Beatles had made a powerful first impression. He said he was enthralled by “their music, their beat and their sense of humor onstage,” reports the New York Times. He quickly decided The Beatles would become the biggest band in the world. He said, “My own sense of inferiority and frustration evaporated with The Beatles because I knew I could help them.”

In early December of 1961, Epstein and the band began discussing the possibility and terms of his management role. By the end of January, he was officially their manager. Although he didn’t have experience managing an artistic group, he was very influential in determining the band’s signature appearance and their trademark end-of-show bow to the crowd.

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota on August 21, 1965. Photo by Bob Bonis

During his time with the group, he managed the band’s business affairs, but he also helped to settle interpersonal conflicts. Epstein worked tirelessly for The Beatles, and as a result, its members trusted him with an ardent loyalty. Author Johnny Rogan writes in Starmakers and Svengalis: The History of British Pop Management, “Even on the brink of a nervous breakdown, his devotion to the Fab Four was all-consuming.”

Tragically, on August 27, 1967, at the age of 32, Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose after taking too many sleeping pills. Epstein had been with them for the entire trek up to the summit. But with his sudden death, anticipation of climbing down from the peak crept in suddenly, as did the truth behind some of Epstein’s business dealings.

Brian Epstein Remembered

In the biography Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney said that the band had always signed the contracts presented to them by Epstein without reading them. Following Epstein’s death, John Lennon bemoaned, “Well, he was alright. I’ve found out since, of course, that he wasn’t quite as honest to us as he made out.” However, in his biography For the Record, Lennon attested to the band’s loyalty to Epstein by saying, “We had complete faith in him when he was running us. To us, he was the expert.”

Despite the controversy, Epstein was without any doubt instrumental in The Beatles’ rise to fame. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, when asked about the time following Epstein’s death, Lennon said, “I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. I thought, ‘We’ve had it.’”

Although The Beatles were beginning their descent from the top, the view was still clear and bright as each member carried on with their respective, similarly best-selling solo projects. But, also in the background of The Beatles’ success was their U.S. Tour Manager, Bob Bonis.

Bonis served as U.S. Tour Manager for all three of the band’s American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond). As he worked with the Fab Four, he also satisfied his passion for photography, capturing rare and never before seen moments in rock-n-roll history.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed 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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