The single peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100. A major contributory factor to its poor chart placing was the refusal of radio stations to play it, as the ‘n’ word was judged to be a step too far.
Furthermore, Apple’s US promotions manager Pete Bennett hated the song and refused to promote it.
I told him that I wouldn’t promote it. So John says to me, ‘Well, you’re our promotions man, you have to listen to us, we pay you… I’m the president of Apple.’ I said, ‘John, I don’t care what the story is, I don’t want the record – I’m not going to promote it. If I don’t like it I won’t promote it.’ So John says, ‘I’ll tell you what – I’ll promote it, and if I make this record number one, that means you’re not the number one promotions man in the business.’ I said, ‘John, you got a deal… but if the record doesn’t happen [in the charts] I want you to kiss my butt and double my salary and expenses.’ So he says, ‘You got a deal… but I’m gonna make it number one.’
Without John knowing I checked out all the radio stations and they said they weren’t going to play it. So John called all of the stations himself and he tried to do a promo job. He was so happy and he came back to me and said, ‘We still got that bet?’ I said, ‘John, God bless you, we still have that bet and you better kiss my butt if you lose, and if you win, you can tell me, Peter, you’re shit, and if you don’t want me to work with you any more, that’s it.’ ‘Well, you’re gonna lose,’ he told me, because he had called Chicago, he called San Francisco, and he talked to the program directors, and they were so nice to him, they took interviews with him. The thing was, the stations put him on tape, and while they played the record in the studio, they never put it on the air. What happened was that a few idiots played it on FM – but at that time FM was nothing, it couldn’t sell two records – and all the top stations wouldn’t play it. Apple sent out 30,000 records and about 15,000 came back.
Also on this day...
- 1976: John Lennon and Paul McCartney consider appearing on Saturday Night Live
- 1970: US album release: Sentimental Journey by Ringo Starr
- 1967: The Beatles watch Donovan perform in London
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: Live: Mersey Beat Showcase, London
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
- 1960: Live: Fox And Hounds, Caversham
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.