21 Jun Remembering the Beatles touching down in Darwin 56 years ago…
It was 56 years ago today when Sergeant Pepper didn’t teach the band to play, instead three of four Beatles landed in the early hours of a Darwin morning ahead of their imminent Australian Tour.
- Several hundred Beatles’ fans gathered at Darwin airport in the early hours of the morning
- Only a hand full of journalists had the opportunity to meet John, Paul, George and touring drummer Jimmie
- The biggest band in the world was gracious, even after 30 hours of flights
Ren Kelly, a Darwin-based disc jockey at a local commercial radio station and now Alice Springs’ resident, heard rumours that the most popular band in the world at the time would be landing in the Northern Territory.
“I had a friend who was working as head of the tourist office up there, who had been talking with the Qantas staff … and he had tipped me off and said ‘if I can get you an interview, would you like to?'” Mr Kelly said.
For a 20-something fledgling reporter, it was a dream come true.
Several hundred Beatles fans had gathered at Darwin Airport in the early hours of the morning.
But first he had to skirt the port manager who ran Darwin’s Qantas Lounge, which back in the 1960s had a strict dress code — even at 2:00am.
Despite being a typical Darwin dry season morning, it was still relatively warm.
“The dress code in Darwin at that time for most workers was an open necked shirt, shorts, and long white socks,” he said.
“If you didn’t didn’t make the the dress regulations you weren’t allowed in.”
There were a number of journalists waiting to hear from the three, given Ringo Starr was unwell with tonsillitis and joined the tour in Sydney.
George, John, Paul, and fill-in drummer Jimmie Nicol were clearly exhausted from the long haul flight and extensive touring.
“They’d come from the UK to Hong Kong … and then flown to Darwin. They had probably been about 30 hours in the air,” he said.
“We had about 45 minutes because there were three or four other journalists there.
Mr Kelly said they tried to maintain their trademark humour.
“They were very accommodating with some blinking stupid questions. They were very gracious to the media that were there,” he said.
The Darwin DJ said putting questions to the Beatles was the pinnacle of his interviewing career, where he asked more about their music than the tour.
“There’s no group better now, anywhere in the world, than the Beatles,” Mr Kelly said.
Unfortunately, the tapes did not stand the test of time and disintegrated in storage at a local radio station.
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