Chart success

‘Paperback Writer’ was the first Beatles single since ‘She Loves You’ not to debut at the top of the UK charts. Sales were the lowest for any release since ‘Love Me Do’.

It did, however, reach number one, both in the band’s home country and in the United States, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. In America it spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Top Of The Pops appearance

Although by June 1966 it had been running for over two years, The Beatles had never before appeared live on the BBC music show Top Of The Pops. They had pre-recorded exclusive performances in BBC studios, or sent promotional clips to be played on the show.

That changed on this day, with a studio performance of new single ‘Paperback Writer’. The Beatles had agreed two days previously, when manager Brian Epstein passed on a request from Top Of The Pops producer Johnnie Stewart. Unusually, on this occasion The Beatles agreed.

The group arrived at BBC Television Centre at 2.30pm for a rehearsal for the camera, and to pose for publicity photographs and conduct press interviews. More rehearsals followed between 4.15pm and 5.30, and from 6.30pm to 7pm.

The Beatles on Top Of The Pops, 16 June 1966

The live broadcast took place between 7.30pm and 8pm on BBC One. The Beatles were the final act to appear, and mimed to both ‘Paperback Writer’ and its b-side, ‘Rain’. They were introduced by host Pete Murray.

The Beatles’ only appearance on Top Of The Pops was, with the exception of the worldwide satellite transmission of ‘All You Need Is Love’ on 25 June 1967, their final live television appearance as a group.

Live performances

‘Paperback Writer’ was performed during The Beatles’ last tour in 1966. It was the penultimate song played at their final concert on 29 August, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

We were just a little dance-hall band and we never really thought of augmenting ourselves. We thought, ‘Well, we can’t. We’ll do it to the best of our ability until the point where we can’t really do it, and then we’ll miss it out.’ So around this time we were starting to miss out a lot of record tracks on live shows.

‘Paperback Writer’, for instance, was all double-tracked, and it sounded pretty crummy on stage. So what we did with it, in the American tour at least, was get to the point where it was particularly bad, and then we’d do our ‘Elvis legs’ and wave to the crowds, and they’d all scream and it would cover that. As Paul has said, the screaming did cover a lot of worrying moments.

George Harrison
Anthology