From this day until Thursday 4 February 1964, The Beatles performed 18 days of concerts at Paris’ Olympia Theatre, on a nine-act bill, playing two and sometimes three sets each day.
The Beatles closed each performance, but shared top billing at various times with French singer Sylvie Vartan or America’s Trini Lopez. They had just two days off in the run, on 21 and 28 January.
The songs in The Beatles’ set were 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, although for some shows, particularly the matinée performances, they played for less time.
On 16 January The Beatles firstly performed a matinee show at the Olympia in front of an enthusiastic sell-out crowd. In the evening they performed before an older audience. The Olympia was an impressive music hall, with a guaranteed audience in evening dress eager to experience the best entertainment Paris had to offer.
It was, however, somewhat ill-equipped for Beatlemania. Although the group’s second performance was politely received, the venue’s fuses blew three times due to its electricity system not being equipped for modern amplifiers.
On the first night, we had a bit of trouble because we suddenly found out that there was a radio programme just sort of plugging into everything. They had overloaded all the amps, and they all went ‘Bomf!’ They like the wilder stuff over there, so we stuck in a wilder number to finish off with.
Backstage there was a mob of French photographers eager for pictures of The Beatles. At one stage a fight broke out after one of them was disallowed from taking exclusive pictures. The trouble spilled onto the stage, and Paul McCartney was forced to stop singing to call for order. George Harrison narrowly avoided having his guitar damaged by the mob.
The police were called and the group resolved to allow no-one backstage for the remaining dates. Armed Parisian gendarmes ringed the theatre, and The Beatles left the stage amid an air of chaos.
Also on this day...
- 1980: Paul McCartney is arrested in Japan for marijuana possession
- 1970: John Lennon’s Bag One exhibition is raided by police
- 1967: Joe Orton begins writing a script for The Beatles’ third film
- 1965: Live: Another Beatles Christmas Show
- 1964: The Beatles reach number one in America
- 1963: Radio: Here We Go
- 1963: Television: People And Places
- 1957: The Cavern Club opens in Mathew Street, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.