The Beatles turn down a benefit request for victims of the Aberfan disaster

On 21 October 1966 more than 150,000 cubic metres of excavated mining debris, mud and slurry from Merthyr Vale Colliery in south Wales collapsed, engulfing a school in the village of Aberfan and killing 116 children and 28 adults.

The disaster touched the nation, and a public appeal was quickly launched. Donations totalling more than £1.6 million were received within months, but the damage to the small Welsh village was felt for generations.

On this day Brian Epstein, speaking on behalf of The Beatles, turned down a request for them to appear on a television special in aid of the victims’ families. Several public figures called on the world’s biggest band to make a gesture of support, but none was forthcoming.

Although they were sympathetic to the people of Aberfan’s plight, The Beatles were reluctant to be drawn into a benefit event. At the time the notion of a charity concert was unheard of. Furthermore, having recently given up touring, The Beatles were keen to avoid any actions which would have further turned them into public property.

Last updated: 17 November 2010
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  1. Steve Parr Saturday 6 November 2021

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