The day The Bea­tles came to Welling­ton

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Live Beatle­ma­nia hit New Zealand when 7000 scream­ing fans wel­comed The Bea­tles to Welling­ton 50 years ago.

The Teal Elec­tra plane bring­ing Ge­orge Har­ri­son, John Len­non, Paul McCart­ney and Ringo Starr from Syd­ney landed at Ron­go­tai air­port at 4.30pm on Sun­day, June 21, 1964.

The Fab Four were to per­form two shows a night at the town hall on June 22 and 23.

Af­ter de­cid­ing which per­for­mance to at­tend, the next hard de­ci­sion for fans was where to wel­come their idols. Was it to be at the air­port or out­side the St Ge­orge Ho­tel in Wil­lis St?

Lor­raine Wil­liams spent more than seven hours wait­ing to see Ge­orge Har­ri­son at the air­port on a cold, clear win­ter’s day, with only cheese sand­wiches in her pocket to sus­tain her.

She was one of the first 30 fans there and re­alised later she could have got there two hours be­fore The Bea­tles and got just as good a view.

Her mother had in­sisted she take her ‘‘old fash­ioned’’ blue and brown woollen scarf, which she nor­mally wouldn’t have been seen dead in, un­til her ears stung from their bat­ter­ing by the southerly wind.

Some fans next to Wil­liams threw a large blan­ket over the wire netting fence be­tween the car park and the air­field to shel­ter them from the wind.

What Wil­liams didn’t know was one had sneaked be­tween the fence and the blan­ket to cut a hole in the wire netting with wire-cut­ters. The boys planned to run on to the tar­mac to see The Bea­tles close up when the plane landed.

They went through the hole too soon af­ter the plane’s ar­rival and got caught by the po­lice, who thought Wil­liams was with them. A po­lice­man grabbed her and said she would be go­ing back to town in a po­lice car.

She was in tears, think­ing her dream of see­ing Har­ri­son was over un­til a girl nearby told the po­lice­man: ‘‘She’s by her­self.’’

The po­lice­man later redeemed him­self for spoil­ing her day.

Wil­liams got a wink and a smile from Har­ri­son when the of­fi­cer called out to him to say hello to the lit­tle lady.

A Maori wel­com­ing party from Te Pataka con­cert group rubbed noses with The Bea­tles, gave them pois and hung plas­tic tiki around their necks.

The Bea­tles were then driven close to the fence­line on the tray of a small truck, wav­ing to the shriek­ing fans be­fore swiftly trans­fer­ring to a po­lice ve­hi­cle for their ride to the city.

Out­side the St Ge­orge, 3000 hys­ter­i­cal fans forced po­lice to sneak The Bea­tles into the ho­tel by the bot­tle­store en­trance.

They soon ap­peared on the ho­tel’s third floor bal­cony to a deaf­en­ing roar from the crowd.

Ra­dio 2ZB’s ‘‘Doreen’’ in­ter­viewed them from the bal­cony.

Starr said to her that he wouldn’t mind an­swer­ing ques­tions on his own – when they were to­gether they couldn’t help them­selves and al­ways acted the goat be­cause it was ex­pected of them.

Doreen fol­lowed his ad­vice and was glad she had. When she saw them in­ter­viewed on TV as a group, the scene was some­thing of a riot, she said.

Pa­tient fan: Lor­raine Wil­liams, who spent seven hours at Welling­ton air­port wait­ing for The Bea­tles to ar­rive.

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