Written by Staff Writer at CNN
They’re one of the most popular bands in pop music history, providing hits including “Hey Jude,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Drive My Car.”
And while they were out touring the world over in the late 1960s and early 1970s, none of the Beatles featured in their own film footage has ever been released to the public — until now.
A six-minute newsreel from 1966 released by the British Film Institute shows Paul McCartney on stage at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, before the band goes on to perform for BBC Television.
He is joined by John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, all wearing leather jackets and brightly colored trousers. McCartney, who was just 23 years old at the time, was filming the band performing their own songs.
Beatles at a live gig in Liverpool during 1966. Credit: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
The Beatles are filmed playing alongside The Beatles Story in Liverpool during their “Rubber Soul” tour. In the newsreel, the group sits on green sofas to watch a screening of “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night.” As the film rolls, shots of the band playing are shown.
‘Everything to lose’
Paul McCartney filming the Beatles “Rubber Soul” album art shoot at the Cavern Club in 1967. Credit: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
In September, the British Film Institute reissued the newsreel, entitled “The Beatles at the Cavern,” in the UK.
“During a record contract negotiation, the Beatles chose the this venue as their home away from home,” the film’s synopsis said. “Their hardworking performance and character were pivotal in maintaining the excitement surrounding the band.”
Earlier this year, the BBC and its music channel BBC2 broadcast an hour-long film about The Beatles’ performance in the Cavern Club, which featured rare footage of McCartney and Lennon performing their own songs and others, including the title track from “Rubber Soul.”
In 1968, the band’s pioneering film about their fan club members and the Beatles on tour, “The Beatles Anthology,” was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s iconic concert at Shea Stadium, in New York City.
The release of this new footage comes in time for the 50th anniversary of the band’s iconic concert at Shea Stadium, New York City. Credit: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
A compilation DVD also revealed parts of the band’s documentary footage — with little-known shots of the band’s final world tour from 1968 — filmed in Chicago and Seattle.
In their new TV program, the BBC showed unseen shots of the band performing tracks that would also be included on the Anthology release, such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Day Tripper.”
John Lennon took off his Lennon Scholl jacket from the video. Credit: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
Lennon was delighted by the restored footage, the BBC said.
“There’s some great music there,” he said. “John was watching in 1967 and hadn’t seen the camera when we were recording them in 1964. So, there’s a bit of history and he loved that.”
McCartney had no idea the Beatles had traveled to California in 1968 to perform “Tomorrow Never Knows” in their own concert film and TV special — and said it was a treat to be able to see it.
“When they were away from home, of course they had their own special shows. And I thought it was a marvelous thing to be involved in,” he said.