In 1963 Beatlemania went regal with a performance at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
In the presence of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and the Royal Highness Princess Margaret, four working-class lads from Liverpool joined the bill alongside the likes of Marlene Dietrich, the Clark Brothers, Dickie Henderson, Steptoe & Son and more.
Despite the fact that The Beatles were seventh on the 19-act bill, the band were at the height of their fame and anticipation was buzzing throughout the capital city. For the band, who were riding the wave of success following the release of if their debut record, Please Please Me, things didn’t get off to the greatest start. During rehearsals, Paul McCartney managed to get his bass guitar caught in the curtains and the practice sessions were cut short.
Despite apparent nerves, The Beatles were able to get back to business as usual the moment came for them to perform live. As the curtain was preparing to be lifted, the band started to play their first song ‘From Me To You’ and John Lennon and McCartney walked towards their microphones and began to sing. Before their second song began to play, ‘She Loves You’, McCartney made some awkward quips to the crowd and the band bowed in unison to the royal family.
Such was the excitement around the band, the normal formality of the Royal Variety Performance began to slip away and, as one commentator said: “Never in all my years of observing Royal Variety audiences, have I known this usually starch, ‘on their best behaviour’ audience, unbend so quickly and completely.”
Their third song of the set, ‘Till There Was You’, went down well with the crowd and the band were completely at ease. Lennon, feeling in a typically cheeky mood, paused prior to their final song and addressed the crowd: “For our last number I’d like to ask your help,” he began. “The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery. We’d like to sing a song called ‘Twist And Shout'”.
Following his comment, Lennon’s face turned to a cheeky smile and offered a thumbs up to the royal box, to which the Queen Mother responded by raising her hand and smiling back at the lead singer.
Enjoy the full performance, below and if you want Lennon’s comment first skip to the 7:40 mark.
Source: Town & Country