Saturday, 30 June 2012

The "Royal Command Performance" poster

The Beatles Royal Command Performance poster is said to have been created around their first, 1964, visit to America, during which they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and played Carnegie Hall and Washington Coliseum. Printed in America by NEMS and widely distributed, the poster has became a mainstay among Beatles posters. Here's a later incarnation of the same poster, still being reprinted on a regular basis. Don't ask us how to tell the differences between a vintage poster and a new reprint, we have a feeling some of the manufacturers are giving their prints a vintage look.
 What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, this annual show usually go under the name of "The Royal Variety Show" and second, it didn't take place, like the poster says, at the London Palladium, but rather at the Prince of Wales Theatre, November 4th, 1963 (There more inaccuracies concerning the poster, take a look at the comments section of this post). Many people think that John Lennon's famous "rattle yer jewellery" remark was aimed at Queen Elizabeth, but guess what? She wasn't attending the show. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret was there, though. In the Rutles retelling of the story, it's an impersonator of Queen Elizabeth who is attending, or "Barry's mum", if you wish.

Apart from the aforementioned poster, in 1963 a 32-page 7" x 9" softback souvenir photo book named "The Beatles By Royal Command" was produced in the UK by the Daily Mirror newspaper, documenting their Royal Variety Show performance from arrival through rehearsals to the aftershow with a great live shot colour centrefold.

Inside spread

Inside pages
Of course, bootleggers used the front and back photos of this magazine as a cover for their EP from the four song concert.

The Beatles did play a gig at the London Palladium in 1963. That happened on October 13th, but that was for the TV show "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium". Very few episodes of this programme have survived (5 out of original run's 126), the Beatles' episode being one of the lost ones (contrary to what Wikipedia says).


Rick said...

Other things wrong with the poster: The photo is taken in January 1964 (over two months after Royal Variety Show Performance) and the picture in printed in reverse. But, other than that... :)


Dag Braathen said...

Bob Dylan in 1964 with the poster in the background:

Mark McKendrick said...

The whole show was billed and promoted as "The Royal Variety Show".
Individual artist appearances, contracts and promotional matter were always billed and titled "Royal Command Performance".