60 years Ago: BEATLES BEGIN THREE-WEEK ENGAGEMENT IN PARIS
On the evening of Tuesday, January 14, 1964, John, Paul and George left London Airport for Paris, France. Ringo followed the next day. The group was there for a three-week engagement at the Olympia Theatre. All of the artists for the shows had a rehearsal at Cinema Cyrano on Wednesday. The bill included a popular French female singer and American folk singer/guitarist Trini Lopez, who burst upon the scene six months earlier with his worldwide hit If I Had A Hammer, as well as acrobats and jugglers. The schedule called for two (and occasionally three) shows on 18 days, with only two days off. The Beatles normal set included From Me To You, Roll Over Beethoven, She Loves You, This Boy, Boys, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist And Shout and Long Tall Sally.
The opening show on Wednesday, January 16, did not go well for the Beatles. The audience was not full of young admiring screaming female fans, but rather a mix of elite older Parisians and young males. After months of enthusiastic crowds, the sedate greeting from the French was an unpleasant, sobering experience. To make matters worse, the stage wiring at the Olympia was insufficient to support the Beatles powerful amplifiers, causing them to lose power three times. The crowd thought the Beatles equipment was to blame. George suspected sabotage.
After the shows, the group’s spirits were low. But that soon changed when Brian received a cable from New York stating that the upcoming issue of an American music trade magazine was going to list a Beatles song as the number one single in its chart listing of the top 100 hits. To Brian and the Beatles, this was the big payoff. They had the number one record in the biggest record market. They had accomplished something that only a few British artists had done before. The Beatles had a number one record in America.
The news touched off an all-night celebration that included piggyback rides and mass consumption of alcoholic beverages. Paul described the proceedings as “very high hysterics.” Brian remembered asking John, “There can be nothing more important than this, can there?” But there were more important things to come.
This week’s questions cover the Beatles first week in Paris.
- Of the songs performed by the Beatles at the Olympia Theatre (see first paragraph above), which is the only one the boys did not perform at their first U.S. concert? (Hint: The answer is in the question.)
- What brand of amplifiers did the Beatles use at the Olympia Theatre that caused the power to go out?
- What American music trade magazine was the first to list a Beatles song at number one?
- What was the first Beatles song to top the American charts?
- Who was the female French singer on the bill with the Beatles at the Olympia Theatre in Paris?
1. All of the songs performed by the Beatles at the Olympia Theatre were included in the group’s first U.S. concert except for Boys, which was replaced with another song having a Ringo lead vocal, I Wanna Be Your Man.
2. The Beatles used Vox amplifiers.
3. Cash Box was the first American music trade magazine to list a Beatles song at number one.
4. The first Beatles song to top the American charts was I Want To Hold Your Hand.
5. The female French singer on the bill with the Beatles at the Olympia Theatre in Paris was Sylvie Vartan, shown below fiddling with Paul’s bass and sitting on one of the group’s power-draining Vox amplifiers.
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