October 01, 2013

The Beatles Visit To Australia 1964 - Powerhouse Museum Exhibition



I remember this day well. Most of us were late for school as we stayed home and watched as much as we could.

Some were brave enough to go to the airport and suffer the crowds! It would have been worth it! I still have the old vinyls, but unfortunately no longer possess the 700 pinups I had. Thankfully now I have several 'coffee table' books!

By Ian Shedden

PETER Cox, above, has vivid memories of the Beatles arriving in Sydney 49 years ago.

"I was seven years old and very excited," he says. "I can remember the day very clearly. There was no breakfast TV then, but Nine and Seven covered the arrival from the airport and from the Beatles' hotel."

Every morning when he goes to work for the next five months, Cox will have the opportunity to relive that day and many more from the Beatles' 1964 Australian tour.

As curator of The Beatles in Australia exhibition, which has just opened at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, Cox has put together a rare collection of Fabs memorabilia, ranging from fan letters, tickets for the shows, early Australia-only records and even a suit worn by John Lennon, which has been borrowed from London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

Footage of the hysterical scenes across Australia as thousands of fans turned out to meet the Beatles plays a significant part in the new exhibition, designed as an early celebration of the 50th anniversary of the group's tour.

The project, which runs in Sydney until February, is a joint one between the Powerhouse and Art Centre Melbourne, where the exhibition will run from February until July 1 next year, that day being the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' last gig in Australia.

Some of the material comes from ACM's collection, while others were acquired from private collectors and fans. Cox, a Beatles tragic, contributed a few items himself.

"Some of my old records are in there," he says.

Also included is an archive donated to ACM by Kenn Brodziak, the promoter who brought the Beatles to Australia.

"That sheds a lot of light on how the tour was planned," says Cox, "and how it eventuated and how it was managed."

Brodziak negotiated a fee of £1000 a week for the Beatles during a visit to England in 1963, before Beatlemania really took off. That fee rose to £2500 a week by the time they got here, when 300,000 people crowded the streets of Adelaide hoping to catch a glimpse of John, Paul, George and drummer Jimmy Nichol. Ringo was ill at the time and only rejoined the band in Melbourne.

Cox hopes to attract fans of all ages to the exhibition. Baby boomers are the target audience, "but I'm hoping that people in their 20, 30s and 40s take a look. This is a family museum. People bring their children."

The exhibition, which also features stills photography, scrapbooks of media cuttings from the tour and television interviews with the band reflects also just what an influence the Beatles' visit had on our culture. It changed Australian music.

"Their influence on Australia continues today," says Cox. "They had a dramatic and sudden effect on Australian music at the time.

"If you look at the artists that were popular prior to the Beatles, there was a bit of surf music, Col Joye and Johnny O'Keefe.

"They were swept aside by Beatlemania and soon you had a whole new crop of bands in suits like the Beatles, with their hair like the Beatles and who wrote their own songs like the Beatles; the Twilights, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, the Easybeats, Ray Brown and the Whispers ... that started a whole new wave of rock 'n' roll in Australia."

The Beatles in Australia is at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney until February 16, then moves to the Arts Centre Melbourne until July 1.

Picture and story with thanks to The Australian

More information and other pictures from here.


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