The Beatles discuss their future after Brian Epstein

Following the death of Brian Epstein on 27 August, The Beatles convened at Paul McCartney’s house in St John’s Wood, London, to discuss their future.

McCartney asked The Beatles’ publicist Tony Barrow to arrive an hour before the rest of the group. He wanted to stop The Beatles from losing momentum and, although there was talk of a trip to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, McCartney wanted them to press on with the Magical Mystery Tour project.

Paul McCartney's diagram for Magical Mystery Tour

Paul produced his now-legendary drawing of a Magical Mystery Tour cake sliced up into segments to represent eight essential sequences for inclusion in the film. He had written key words that would prompt him when describing the proposed production to others: Commercial, Introduce Tour, Get On Coach, Courier Introduces, Recruiting, Marathon, Laboratory Sequence, Stripper & Band, End Song? …

Paul made it clear to me that his aim was to make a feature-length film for full-scale theatrical release and he felt that a successful screen ‘tour’ would go a long way towards plugging the gaping hole left by the axing of the Fab Four’s concert trips. Indeed, if Paul had managed to produce one successful theatrically released feature film with The Beatles each year, a far bigger potential audience would have seen the group than did in the touring years, and the profit margin for the boys would have been enormous.

When the rest arrived he delegated different Beatles to take care of each segment, encouraging them to come up with their own musical and/or comedy content for specific sequences that would last 10 or 15 minutes. He said his concept was based on the old idea of seaside coach trips, mystery tours, ‘but this one will have an additional touch of fantasy because four magicians will be at work to make wonderful things happen’. Paul insisted that filming must begin the following week, by which time we’d need to have a big yellow bus organised and decorated, a supporting cast of professional actors and variety artists, the necessary cameramen and technical crew and a route for the bus to take us down to Cornwall, our West Country destination.

John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me
Tony Barrow
Last updated: 27 June 2023
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