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July 1966 -- Brian And His Boys Experience The Philippines
This snapshot must have been taken near the beginning of their Manila "adventure" since nobody looks overly angsty here. Unfortunately, this pic also brings back to my mind the torture Brian went through due to the dictator Imelda Marcos. If you wish to read further, prepare to feel depressed by the time you finish.
As you probably know, by the end of their two-day "visit" (their concert was on July 4) the Philippine Police protection was cruelly withdrawn, and, in the absence of security, the Beatles entourage (especially Brian, Mal and Alf Bicknell) got the holy snot beat out of them. To top that off, Brian was forced to hand over, out of his own private funds, to the Philippine military what amounts to US $18,000.00 that the Marcos regime demanded at the last minute as "taxes." On their way out, he and his boys and their roadies and crew were jarred severely -- Brian sustaining several hard punches at the base of his neck -- then, on the plane, he got into a shouted misunderstanding with promoter Vic Lewis, who proceeded to grab Brian's neck at the jugular, firmly wrenching his jaw and pressing his head hard against a port window -- Peter Brown was able to break his grip, twist Lewis' arm behind his back and wrestle him away. Lewis managed to break loose and lurch again towards Brian shouting, "I'll f*ing kill ya!"
The person sustaining the most injury in the Philippines debacle was the late Alf Bicknell (click his name to see a few pics, etc.), their faithful driver, who sustained a spinal injury and a fractured rib.
After the plane was finally safely airborne, Brian was so traumatized and guilt-ridden -- he felt personally responsible for putting his boys in danger -- that he erupted into burning fever and vomited violently.
What was supposed to be a short stopover in India for fueling, instead became a four-day recovery period. Brian was so sickly that his assistants had to help him to a waiting taxi, and he remained in a hotel suite under a physician's care.
It's a testament to his sensitivity that the frail Brian mustered up enough strength to dictate to his parents in Liverpool a most reassuring telegram, telling them that if they heard of trouble in Manila not to pay any attention, nothing of consequence happened and everyone was fine! The message was completely devoid of the fact that their son was indeed ailing. What a loving, considerate son. ♥
It was the Manila experience more than any other that turned the Beatles off permanently from ever touring again.
While down the hall poor Brian Epstein remained pale and sick in his suite, Neil Aspinall tried to explain to the boys, now desperately trying to mellow out with some scotch and Coke (and confiscated marijuana), that Brian had all of 1967 already booked for a string of shows worldwide.
The boys delayed until their July 8th flight out of New Delhi to break the news to Brian that they were definitely cancelling the tours -- and Brian's dream -- forever.
Hearing of this decision, the manager's body became profusely covered with hives. Such was the shock for Brian on that plane out of New Delhi. Such was the shock in hearing that The Beatles no longer cared anymore to tour. The lesions seemed to have appeared almost instantly.
Arriving at Heathrow Airport, Brian was removed immediately from the BOAC jetliner to a waiting ambulance. Dr. Norman Cowan, the Epstein family physician, later diagnosed Brian's affliction as glandular fever -- that's the British term for mononucleosis -- and, ironically, it's caused by the Epstein-Barr virus!
To recover from mono, you must have complete rest for 4 to 6 weeks. Brian was unable to follow those instructions because he had to cut short his recuperation in Portmeirion to go handle John's Jesus apology in America. Consequently, and in addition to all his other problems, he was still chronically suffering from "glandular fever," low-grade at times and severely at other times, until his death more than a year later.
After the Philippines, a reporter asked George Harrison what was next on the band's agenda. George answered with acid on his tongue, "We're going to have a couple of weeks to recuperate before we go and get beaten-up by the Americans."
All I can say is, THANK YOU IMELDA MARCOS. If there's a hell, you certainly deserve the worst of it for all eternity!
If not for her, Brian might have had a chance of sweet-talking his boys into another year of public performances -- after all, 1967's tours were already all set, and he could possibly convince the boys that they could be arranged to be much more agreeable than 1966's tours were -- and our Brian was known to be excellent at making deals with his Beatles that were satisfactory to all involved.
On a personal note, yours truly, Christine, might have been able to attend a 1967 concert in Detroit, plus one in Chicago ~~ because, after the 66 concert, we met and befriended a senior in our school named Carole who went to ALL the Detroit and Chicago concerts! *sigh*