Chart success

‘Hello, Goodbye’ was released in the UK on 24 November 1967, with ‘I Am The Walrus’ on the b-side. It entered the charts six days later at number three, and reached the top a week later. It remained at number one for seven weeks – The Beatles’ longest chart topper since ‘She Loves You’.

The single was released in the US on 27 November 1967. On 9 December it entered the top 40, and went on to spend three weeks at the top. It remained in the top 40 for 10 weeks. It was also included on the full-length Magical Mystery Tour LP, released on the same day as the single.

Promotional films

On 10 November 1967 The Beatles assembled at the Saville Theatre in London, formerly owned by Brian Epstein, to make three promotional film for ‘Hello, Goodbye’.

I directed the promo film we made for ‘Hello, Goodbye’. Directing a film is something that everyone always wants to get into. It was something I’d always been interested in, until I actually tried it. Then I realised it was too much like hard work. Someone summed it up when they said: ‘There’s always someone arriving saying: “Do you want the gold pistols or the silver pistols?”‘ Then you think: ‘Um, um…’ There was so much of that going on – so many decisions to be made – that I ended up hating it.

I didn’t really direct the film – all we needed was a couple of cameras, some good cameramen, a bit of sound and some dancing girls. I thought, ‘We’ll just hire a theatre and show up there one afternoon.’ And that was what we did: we took our Sgt Pepper suits along and filmed at the Saville Theatre in the West End.

In the first film, The Beatles wore their Sgt Pepper costumes to perform in front of a psychedelic backdrop. A cutaway featured the group wearing their collarless suits from 1963, and some local dancers donned grass skirts for what was termed the ‘Maori finale’.

I said, ‘Look, can we get a theatre anywhere? How about Brian’s? Is it ever empty for a minute or two? An afternoon? Sure, great.’ So we went down there, got some girls in Hawaiian skirts, got our Sgt Pepper outfits on, and I just ran out there: ‘Get a shot of this! Do this for a bit now! Let’s have a shot there! Get a close-up of him! Get the girls on their own! Go back there! Get a wide angle! We’ll edit it, we’ll make it work.’ It was very thrown away. Nice to do stuff like that.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The second film was also a performance, although The Beatles wore their everyday – though still elaborate – clothes. In this version Ringo Starr’s bass drum carried the familiar Beatles ’drop-T’ logo, whereas in the first one it had been absent.

The third clip was made up of outtakes from the first two, plus footage of John Lennon performing the Twist.

Version one was shown on The Ed Sullivan Show on 26 November, and again the following night on ABC’s The Hollywood Palace. In Britain, however, the material fell foul of the Musicians’ Union ban on miming in television performances, and the films were never shown at the time.

The ‘Maori finale’ of ‘Hello, Goodbye’ was also used over the closing credits of the Magical Mystery Tour film.

Previous song: ‘I Am The Walrus’
Next song: ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’
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