One of the first business ventures by The Beatles’ Apple Corps was the Apple Boutique, which opened on 7 December 1967. It was located at 94 Baker Street, London.
The concept of the boutique was that absolutely everything was for sale. It was described by Paul McCartney as ‘a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things’.
Clive Epstein or some other such business freak came up to us and said, ‘You got to spend so much money or the tax’ll take it. We’re thinking of opening a chain of retail clothes,’ or some barmy thing like that. And we were all muttering about, ‘Well, if we’re going to have to open a shop, let’s open something we’re interested in.’ We went through all these different ideas about this, that and the other. Paul had a nice idea about opening up white houses where it would sell white china and things like that, everything white because you can never get anything white, which is pretty groovy. It didn’t end up with that, it ended up with Apple, with all this junk and The Fool and all the stupid clothes and all that.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
The design company known as The Fool, who were known by The Beatles, were given £100,000 to design and stock the boutique with their garments and accessories, and to decorate the building.
One of The Fool’s designers, Barry Finch, employed several dozen art students to paint a psychedelic mural across the building’s front between 10 and 12 November 1967. Westminster Council had refused them permission but The Fool decided to press on regardless.
Within two weeks of the boutique opening, however, complaints from local traders resulted in the council issuing Apple with an order to repaint the building in its original colour. It was perhaps the first setback in Apple’s troubled history.
This clip from the 1968 film Hot Millions provides one of the few filmed shots from inside of the Apple Boutique. Note the copies of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour EP on the counter.
The boutique was managed by John Lennon’s schoolfriend Pete Shotton, along with Pattie Harrison’s sister Jenny. It was, however, a commercial failure and closed within eight months.
Shoplifting was the main problem, with customers and staff alike proving unwilling to pay for The Fool’s designs. The boutique lost £200,000 with a large proportion of the stock stolen by both customers and staff. The Beatles ended up giving away the shop’s remaining stock when the Apple Boutique closed on 31 July 1968.
94 Baker Street also acted as a temporary headquarters for Apple Corps while their offices at 3 Savile Row were being prepared for occupation.
Also on this day...
- 1969: Television: John Lennon and Yoko Ono on The Question Why
- 1969: George Harrison live: Fairfield Hall, Croydon with Delaney & Bonnie
- 1965: Live: ABC Cinema, Manchester
- 1964: George Harrison’s Mornyork Ltd becomes Harrisongs Ltd
- 1963: Live: Odeon Cinema, Liverpool
- 1963: Live, television: It’s The Beatles
- 1963: Television: Juke Box Jury
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1957: Live: Wilson Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
Why did people complain about the painting anyway? Middle-aged people in the 60s were weird.
Those who complained were probably born just after the turn of the twentieth century.
Looking back one can sense the opposition the Beatles faced (especially
the class structure of English society).
What is taken for granted today was a result of a breakthrough way back when.
I’m more surprised that the Beatles apparently didn’t have the legal right to keep their own building painted the way they wanted!