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Beatles Abbey Road Anniversary Day

August 8th 2009

A Special Day of Events to Celebrate the Iconic Album Cover

Well, what can I say? I'm still recovering from the scenes at Abbey Road on Saturday. I originally planned a leisurely stroll across Abbey Road, 40 years to the minute since the Beatles. What actually happened was Beatlemania on Abbey Road!

I had organized special tours on the 25th and 30th anniversaries of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road - and had a reasonable amount of interest from local TV and a couple of newspapers. As the 40th anniversary was on a Saturday I thought we might get a little bit more interest.

Well, in the end there was over 200 people in all on the tours (we had 3 guides) and well over 1000 fans, 15 TV crews and god know how many press photographers at Abbey Road!

The media frenzy started when the London Evening Standard published a half page preview on the events - and from then things got busy. I gave interviews to CNN, CBS and NBC in the US, Reuters TV Al Jazeera, Spanish TV, Russian TV and god know how many others!

The day started with a special tour I organized that started at 9.20am at Marylebone - which would arrive at Abbey Road in good time for the 11.35am crossing. Normally we get around 30 people on tours this time of year - on Saturday we had 200! It was great to see lots of old friends on the tour, including a great turn-out from the British Beatles Fan Club.

We had to get to Abbey Road by bus as the underground line to Abbey Road was closed. As we got close to the crossing on the bus we started to see rows of TV satellite trucks parked on the side of the road. Then I started to see the number of people gathered. All of us on the bus gazed at the amazing scene in front of us. The area around the crossing was completely crowded with fans, photographers and TV crews. I started wondering how we were going to get near the crossing.

When we left the bus we were immediately surrounded by the media. I remember giving a rather frantic interview to the BBC as I was trying to get to the crossing to try to organize things.

The original idea was that the great Beatle band Sgt Pepper's Only Dart Board Band would lead everyone across Abbey Road and that they would arrive in a replica of John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce, which was kindly donated for the day by Ripley's Believe it or Not. After managing to get away from the BBC I phoned Sam from Ripley's to bring the car to the crossing. The scenes that followed were pure Beatlemania! The car was surrounded by fans, TV crews and photographers. Everyone was in the middle of the road and the crossing disappeared under a sea of people.

The band struggled to get out the car and managed to pose on the crossing. By this time they were surrounded by what seemed like scores of photographers.

The police seemed to be as surprised as anyone with the turmoil and people swarmed into the road - stopping a bus right by the crossing. There was no way the bus could move and in the end it was abandoned by the passengers and driver!

Time was approaching 11.35am, 40 years to the minute since the Beatles crossed. I was hoping the band were going to lead people across the crossing with everyone else to follow. However the band was busy doing media interviews - and the crossing couldn't be seen due to the number of people there. Finally we had enough room to do a few steps on the crossing - with god knows how many photos being taken. It was very exciting - but very scary too. Beatlemania was alive and well on Abbey Road!

George Harrison once said he had to have 30 years of meditation to recover from Beatlemania - and I know how he felt. I had 15 minutes of sort of Beatlemania and are still shaking from it now. It was such an unreal situation to be in.

By this point the police had abandoned any hope of re-opening the road and kept it closed for about an hour. An impromptu street part was now in full swing with people singing Beatles songs, with the police joining in! The atmosphere was incredible.

After leaving the crossing many fans went to Richoux, a local restaurant where Paul McCartney often eats. We had a very nice celebration lunch.

After the mayhem of the morning, I managed to get home for a few hours before leaving for concert by Sgt Pepper's Only Dart Board Band, at Peter Parker's Rock and Roll Club in Denmark Street. The club is in the same building that houses Regent Sound Studios, where the Kinks recorded their first demos and the Rolling Stones their first album.

The band did a great set for the sell out crowd. It was great seeing so many old friends there and the party atmosphere of the morning continued. The Abbey Road part of the concert got the best cheers, not surprisingly.

By the end of the night I was totally exhausted. It was an amazing day I will never forget.

I would like to thank the staff of the Beatles Coffee Shop and British Beatles Fan Club for all their help in organising the event. A very special thank you should go to the great Sgt Pepper's Only Dart Board Band, Sam from Ripley's Believe it Or Not for the use of the Rolls Royce, and Peter Parker for the use of his great club. And of course thanks to the Beatles for being....

 

all the best

 

Richard Porter


Here are some pictures from Carolyne Locher www.carolynelocher.com a local freelance photographer - who imortalised the event with these great shots showing the size of the crowds.

Above - the mayhem on the crossing that stopped a London Bus - and in fact made it break down due to over-heating! I'm lost in the crowds - somewhere where is arrow is pointing!

 

That's me holding up the Abbey Road Album cover. Around me are members of Sgt Pepper's Only Dart Board band.

Below are links to some of the coverage:

Here a clip from youtube showing the mayhem around the crossing I'm the one holding up the album cover http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8kSwqkGuSY

Here's another great video - from Elizabeth Toni - I love the couple 'Doing it' in the road!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGZ9_vfnQ4w&NR=1

This from Russian TV http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/171112/

CBS News in the US!! http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/08/earlyshow/main5226925.shtml


Al Jazeera TV!! http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/08/200988201254557976.html

This really shows the press frenzy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8kSwqkGuSY&feature=related

 

Another nice fan video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZDiXqHQ2Y

 

Here a note from Paul Waddington, who went on the tour:

 

Dear Richard,

Just want to say thanks for the event that became Saturday!!!

It was just totally fab!...I felt it was a real echo of Beatlemania, travelling through time and made real on Abbey Road!

I loved how there were only good vibes abounding and how it chaotically evolved into a Beatle street party that stopped the London traffic, flummoxed the Police, and brought a piece of the past back to life... the presence of the press and fans from all over the world just made it a little slice of magic...

I can very easily imagine that it would be sort of chaotic, madcap, open spontaneity that the Beatles themselves would have loved....and it all took place on a sunny warm day on a leafy Abbey Road...40 years to the hour and minute

It was crazy, fun, a real magical mystery, made briefly real, that I felt echoed the spirit of a time, that we can now only read in books.

Beatlemania experienced as close as I'll ever get!

I'll never forget it!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 
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