The Beatles live: Festival Hall, Melbourne

At 8am on the morning of 15 June 1964, Jimmie Nicol left the Southern Cross Hotel on Bourke Street, Melbourne. Accompanied by Brian Epstein, he was driven to the airport where he was given a final agreed fee of £500, as well as a gold watch with the engraving: “To Jimmy, with appreciation and gratitude – Brian Epstein and The Beatles.”

The Beatles with Jimmie Nicol, June 1964

Nicol didn’t say goodbye to The Beatles; they were sleeping off the previous night’s party, and he felt he shouldn’t disturb them. The group was celebrating their reunion with Ringo Starr, who had missed the early part of their world tour after being struck down by acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis.

Jimmie Nicol had had his fine fling and right well had he sustained it. Epstein accompanied him to the airport when the locum was over (the tour manager went along, too) and handed him the agreed £500 fee and a gold watch inscribed: ‘To Jimmie with appreciation and gratitude. From Brian Epstein and The Beatles.’ The pathetic image created over the years – the lonely discarded drummer, rejected, despised and dumped at the airport – was nonsense, spiteful nonsense from the yellow press. The appointment was only ever temporary, and for Jimmie it was good while it lasted. It certainly beat session work in St John’s Wood. Like Chesterton’s donkey, Jimmie also had his hour: ‘One far fierce hour and sweet; there was a shout about my ears and palms before my feet.’
Derek Taylor
Fifty Years Adrift

In the afternoon EMI held a reception for The Beatles at the hotel. However, the event turned sour when John Lennon protested at label executives upon finding out they had released With The Beatles with different artwork.

With The Beatles album and EP artwork - Australia

Australian trade union rules meant that all album artwork had to be re-photographed and altered; it was felt that Robert Freeman’s iconic image would lose details, so a replacement was designed. Lennon, however, was unwilling to tolerate such a reason.

That night, and for the two subsequent nights, The Beatles performed two shows at the Festival Hall in Melbourne. The six concerts were watched by a total of 45,000 people.

After this first night’s shows, The Beatles attended a private party held in the city’s affluent suburb Toorak.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
Ringo rejoins The Beatles in Australia
The Beatles live: Festival Hall, Melbourne
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  1. Dennis James O'Connell Wednesday 6 December 2023

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