UK album release: The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl

The Beatles’ first official live album, The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl, was released in the UK on 6 May 1977. It had been issued in the USA two days previously.

The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl album artwork

The public appetite for live Beatles recordings was proven when a set of bootleg recordings from Hamburg’s Star-Club was released earlier in 1977.

Once the technical work had been completed, EMI needed approval from the four Beatles before the album could be released. I had to go to New York anyway, so I rang John Lennon and told him about the recordings. I told him that I had been very sceptical at first but now I was very enthusiastic because I thought the album would be a piece of history which should be preserved.

I said to John, ‘I want you to hear it after I’ve gone. You can be as rude as you like, but if you don’t like it, give me a yell.’ I spoke to him the following day and he was delighted with it. The reaction of George and Ringo was much cooler.

The album was a commercial success, selling more than a million copies worldwide. It topped the New Musical Express chart in the UK and reached number two on the Billboard chart in the US.

The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl was reissued in the UK in September 1984 on EMI’s budget label Music For Pleasure. However, it was given minimal promotion and failed to chart, and was deleted the following year.

I have an acetate of it, right from ’64 and I had the tapes in the studio in England a few years ago. The thing is, it’s only important historically, but as a record it’s not very good.

While each of The Beatles was on EMI/Capitol, the LP wouldn’t have been released because we didn’t like it. But as soon as we left, and we lost control of our material, it was released. The sound quality on the album sounds just like a bootleg, but because Capitol is bootlegging it, it’s legitimate.

George Harrison
US album release: The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl
US album release: Thrillington by Paul McCartney
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