Liverpool première of A Hard Day’s Night

Four days after the world première of A Hard Day's Night in London, The Beatles arrived in Liverpool for the first northern England screening.

We weren't really apprehensive abut going back to Liverpool, for the other premiere. We'd heard one or two little rumours that people felt we'd betrayed them by leaving, and shouldn't have gone to live in London. But there were always those detractors.
Paul McCartney

The Beatles flew to the city from London, and were greeted upon their arrival at Speke Airport by 3,000 fans. They gave a press conference and a series of interviews for the assembled press and film crews.

We landed at the airport and found there were crowds everywhere, like a royal do. It was incredible, because people were lining the streets that we'd known as children, that we'd taken the bus down, or walked down. We'd been to the cinema with girls down these streets. And here we were now with thousands of people - for us. There was a lot of, 'Hello, how are you? All right?' It was strange because they were our own people, but it was brilliant.
Paul McCartney

The Beatles were driven to Liverpool Town Hall in a police cavalcade, with an estimated 200,000 people - roughly a quarter of the city's population - lining the route. Hundreds of police officers attempted to restrain the crowds, but several times the cordons were breached by screaming fans.

We couldn't say it, but we didn't really like going back to Liverpool. Being local heroes made us nervous. When we did shows there, they were always full of people we knew. We felt embarrassed in our suits and being very clean. We were worried that friends might think we'd sold out - which we had, in a way.
John Lennon, 1967

At 6.55pm they arrived at the Town Hall, 25 minutes behind schedule, and were welcomed by Elizabeth Braddock, the member of parliament for Liverpool's Exchange Division. Also present were friends and family of the group, plus Lord and Lady Derby and the Bishop of Liverpool, and various invited local musicians.

Following a meal The Beatles appeared on the balcony where they waved to the gathered fans, while the Liverpool City Police Band performed Can't Buy Me Love. John Lennon gave a Hitler salute, although it was barely commented on.

John got away with his Hitler bit on the balcony. Nobody seemed to pick up on it. John was always like that, a bit irreverent. Anybody in nerve-racking situations tends to do things to relieve the tension.
Neil Aspinall

Back inside, the Lord Mayor, Alderman Louis Caplan, gave a speech from the Minstrel's Gallery to the 714 guests present in the ballroom. The Beatles were each presented with the keys to the city. Afterwards they drank tea in the Lord Mayor's parlour, while on the council chamber on the ground floor the City Council passed a resolution that confirmed the honour of Freemen of the City on The Beatles.

What really delighted us more than anything is that everybody from the top nobs down to the humblest Scouser, has been so nice and friendly and sung praise after praise, which I'm sure we really don't deserve.
John Lennon, 1964

Just before 9pm they left in an Austin Princess limousine and travelled to the Odeon Cinema for the charity première of A Hard Day's Night. The Liverpool City Police Band performed the theme from Z-Cars and a medley of Beatles hits. Upon their arrival The Beatles were introduced by compère David Jacobs to screams from the audience members.

After the screening the group returned to Speke Airport, from where they flew back to London.

Also on this day...

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6 responses on “Liverpool première of A Hard Day’s Night

  1. Marty

    Hello, I really enjoy and appreciate the Beatles Liverpool premier of HDN. I was wondering if you had, or knew of any shots existing of the Odeon Theater that historic day.

    Thank you, Marty

  2. Gary

    I was only 7 years old at the time but my mum took me down to see the beatles coming home. We stood { i think) on the corner of William Brown St and I saw them go past in a car. One of the memories I have is John Lennon turning around and looking out of the back window. Was anybody else there at the time?

  3. Jan

    My sister took me down to Liverpool Town Hall to see them. I was 6 at the time. She didn’t want to take me, I think my mum made her because she had something to do. My sister lifted me on to the windowsill of the old Midland Bank opposite the Town Hall. It was a big, black sandstone building in those days. Anyway, she left me there amongst the thousands of screaming fans and I was very traumatised by the experience. I could see them quite clearly on the balcony and hear them speak but don’t remember what they said, think I was crying.

  4. Maria O'Rourke

    In 1964 I was 9 and I missed my friends going to see the Beatles at The Odeon in London Rd. arriving for the Premiere of a Hard Day’s Night and walked down on my own to London Rd to look for them. There was so many people and crowds and noise but I got a great spec., facing the Odeon. A double decker bus arrived and out got Violet Carson, Ena Sharples from Coronation St., Lionel Blair and Anita Harris one of his dancers, and I think Mike and Bernie Winters, I don’t remember any others now but I didn’t get to see the Beatles or my friends so I went home feeling very cheated!!

  5. Eileen mcevoy

    Are there any photos of the Beatles leaving Speke airport ??
    I was there and we all sang a hard days night in the rain and it was amazing when they came out and waved as they got on the plane. I was 14 and I will never forget it OR being punished for getting home so late

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