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The Beatles’ world tour begins in Copenhagen, Denmark

For all the concerts they played between 1963 and 1966, The Beatles only undertook one world tour. It began on this day in Copenhagen, Denmark, and continued in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

The Beatles with Jimmie Nicol at the KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark, 4 June 1964

In the morning The Beatles were driven by their chauffeur, Bill Corbett, to London Airport where they were taken to their aeroplane ahead of the other passengers. There they signed autographs for the captain and crew.

More than 6,000 fans awaited their arrival in Copenhagen, and Danish police had to quell crowds of around 10,000 who brought the city centre to a standstill. As they checked in to the Royal Hotel fans attempted to storm the doors.

In the hotel sitting-room in Copenhagen, Judith Simons from the Express pointed out a telegraph left lying open on a table. It was from America and said: ‘Child dying in this family, two days to live. Please call. Child is Mary Sue.’ Paul said casually, ‘That’s the second telegram. The first said four days to live.’ Fearing Judith would be shocked by this apparent callousness (though in reality I was more shocked than she), I suggested we call the number given. Waste of time, said Paul; it was probably a con, and even if it wasn’t, what could they do? Then he shrugged and said, ‘Call – why not? I’ll talk to them, if you like.’ So I called. There were screams at the other end when I explained who I was. ‘I don’t believe it! Hold on right there – I’ll have the kids pick up telephones…’ I shouted over the bedlam: ‘Is Mary Sue still alive? Are we in time?’

‘This is Mary Sue speaking,’ said a whiny teenager-voice, as others chattered and jittered in the background. ‘Please don’t blame Mom, I made her do it… I just had to speak to Paul, oh, Paul, are you there? I just have to talk to him now, please don’t let him be mad at me!’ Paul took the phone from me. He handled the conversation coolly: ‘Now, Mary Sue,’ he said, lofty, dry and mildly admonishing, ‘you know you shouldn’t go around telling lies and frightening people like that…’ When it was over he looked at me, his eyes round and solemn. ‘See?’ Wolf had been cried loudly, not for the first time and assuredly not for the last.

Derek Taylor
Fifty Years Adrift

Ringo Starr remained in London, having been hospitalised with tonsillitis and pharyngitis the previous day. His temporary replacement, Jimmie Nicol, had to swiftly adjust to life in the whirlwind of Beatlemania for the next five dates of the tour.

The group rehearsed their set in the afternoon, and Mal Evans taped the setlist to their guitars to help them remember the running order. They were also visited by the British ambassador to Denmark.

The Beatles performed two shows at the KB Hallen venue, at 6pm and 9.15pm, with 4,400 fans seeing each. The setlist for the first was: ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Till There Was You’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘This Boy’ and ‘Twist And Shout’.

‘Long Tall Sally’ was left out of the setlist as it had been performed by Danish support act The Hitmakers. The Beatles requested that The Hitmakers not perform it during the night’s second show, and it was duly performed as the last show in the headliners’ set.

George Harrison: Oh, remember those shows?

John Lennon: Just no sense of timing.

Harrison: Those tours where we just would miss out half the song.

Paul McCartney: That one with Jimmie Nicol. A one, two! A one two! On ‘She Loves You’, in Sweden [sic].

Lennon: In Sweden, yeah.

McCartney: The first time we’d ever had this new drummer, ’cause Ringo was sick, and he was sitting up on this rostrum but he was just eyeing up all the women. And we just went, ‘One, two!’

Harrison: And we’d have to start.

McCartney: Then he’d just go [mimes frantic drumming].

Lennon: It’s so much fun, that it’s over before it’s begun.

The Beatles, 23 January 1969
Get Back, 2021

The order of the first two songs was switched for the second show of the night, and for all subsequent dates in the tour. At the end of the evening the stage announcer told the audience that The Beatles would not return to the stage, and a potted delphinium was thrown in protest.

As the tour progressed, occasionally ‘Twist And Shout’ replaced Long Tall Sally as the closer.

[John Lennon] drank in excess. In Denmark, for example, his head was a balloon! He had drunk so much the night before, he was on stage sweating like a pig.
Jimmie Nicol

At the Royal Hotel after the second show The Beatles were treated to smørrebrødsseddel – Danish sandwiches. Paul McCartney also sent Ringo a telegram which read: “Didn’t think we could miss you so much. Get well soon.”

Paul McCartney and Wings performed at the KB Hallen during the Wings Over Europe Tour on 1 August 1972.

Last updated: 8 January 2024
Recording, mixing, editing: Long Tall Sally, Matchbox, I Call Your Name, Slow Down, When I Get Home, Any Time At All, I'll Cry Instead
Television: Treslong, Hillegom, Netherlands
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