During Beatlemania a massive amount of merchandise was produced to satisfy demand from fans. Everything from wigs, outfits and combs to talc, jewellery and toys were created with a Beatles theme. English toy manufacturer Selcol produced a number of plastic instruments which displayed images and autographs of the band. Curiously these plastic instruments are now very valuable - because they were so cheap and disposable no-one ever thought they'd be worth anything and, consequently, very few have survived.
This jacket is typical of the A Hard Day’s Night suits with velvet trim collars worn by The Beatles. In an era when a band's image was controlled by the managers and bands themselves – and not an entourage of stylists and personal shoppers - these outfits were chosen to appeal to their hordes of female fans and a wider family audience. The suits were the brainchild of manager Brian Epstein and their tailor Dougie Millings. He produced about 500 garments for The Beatles including the iconic collarless suit, often using sketch ideas by Paul McCartney
This guitar was presented to Paul McCartney in 1964, following an agreement between Brian Epstein and Selmer that McCartney would endorse their new range of bass guitars with a personalised tag attached to the neck. Once the presentation had been made to McCartney, it subsequently went missing – it is claimed that Selmer either kept it back for exhibition purposes or it was sent to McCartney and lost on the way – but resurfaced years later.
The Beatles starred in two feature films in the 1960s - A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). Although pop stars had taken to the big screen before, The Beatles were the first to feature in a comedy, play out their own life in the script and use their album as the soundtrack. Both films were box office smash hits throughout the world, further helping to consolidate The Beatles’ global success.
The Official Beatles Fan Club was set up by Anne Collingham, Bettina Rose, Yvonne Sainsbury, Tony Catchpole and Mike Crowther-Smith to meet demand from fans. Run from headquarters in Monmouth Street, London, they published newsletter updates on the band, circulated signed letters and Christmas flexi-discs and became the recipient of sack after sack of Beatles fan mail. The Beatles themselves even visited from time to time to sign the stacks of photographs and to look at their fan mail.
Stuart Sutcliffe joined Lennon, McCartney and Harrison on bass in 1960, when their group was called The Silver Beetles. In 1961 he toured with the newly renamed The Beatles in Hamburg, where he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Sutcliffe left the group later that year to pursue an art degree at the Hamburg School of Art. His abstract expressionist work, encouraged by the tutelage of Eduardo Paolozzi, gained recognition in the art world.
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