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leslie woodhead

On October 17, 1962, the Beatles appeared on live TV for the first time. Between the usual mix of gardening tips and an interview with a local bell ringer, they performed two numbers: my old favorite “Some Other Guy” and their brand-new record “Love Me Do.” To me, they seemed to be a bit muted by the studio atmosphere, and I wished we’d been able to show the film from the Cavern that had captured the raw energy I saw that day. Nobody seemed much interested in the young rockers from Liverpool. As I escorted the boys out of the studio, Ringo said, “Thanks for getting us this gig.” I bought myself a pair of Cuban-heeled boots. Within two weeks, the Beatles were back in Granada’s little Studio Four, and they returned again and again over the next few months. By the time they came to do “Please Please Me” in January 1963, there were ten thousand kids trying to break through the studio gates. Days later, they were Number One. The little film in the Cavern Club was finally aired, more than a year after we shot it, in November 1963. By then the Beatles had four number-one hits, starred at the Royal Variety Performance, and Beatlemania was spreading around the world. Only the Iron Curtain resisted the invasion. In the Soviet Union, the Communist leadership were determined to block the Beatles virus. Every hint of the Beatles’ seditious music was to be stifled. Radios were jammed, censors were equipped with record scratchers, sneering anti-Beatles campaigns were mounted. They were lampooned as “the Bugs,” and a cartoon showed insect poison being shaken over the scuttling Beatles. The mop-top epidemic was perfectly timed to put the four lads from Liverpool in the front line of the standoff between East and West. As the Cold War threatened to explode, the Soviet president, Nikita Krushchev, declared that the electric guitar was “an enemy of the Soviet people”; and the Fab Four’s first TV spot in the Granada studio came just five days before the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin  

A fascinating examination of the enduring popularity of the Beatles in the former Soviet Union by a writer who was there from the beginning,...

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin  

A fascinating examination of the enduring popularity of the Beatles in the former Soviet Union by a writer who was there from the beginning,...