With the recent release of the documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, Beatles Mania is back. But for Jeffrey Black of Toowoomba, it never ended. Black is one of Australia’s biggest Beatles fans. From the moment he bought the Paperback Writer single in 1966 from Paling & Co, a record store that used to reside in Queen Street Brisbane, he has been hooked.
From teacups to trays, magazines to t-shirts, posters to photographs. The kitsch variety of fan merchandise from The Beatles Australian and New Zealand tour in 1964, is just the beginning of Black’s immense collection.
With hundreds of items, those prized the most are the behind the scenes stories and documents gathered from one of the biggest two-week tours Australia and New Zealand have ever seen. Black describes how The Beatles saw their time in Australia as more of a ‘working holiday’ than their longer, more intense tours of the United States and Europe. Nonetheless, with sell out audiences, Australia gave The Beatles the largest reception they had ever seen – whilst simply standing on a balcony.
Malcolm Searle was one lucky journalist and radio announcer that accompanied John, Paul, Ringo and George over their two weeks down under. Fifteen years ago Jeff Black had the opportunity to sit down and further his collection of candid tales with Searle, that the media of the time was unaware of. One of these stories includes the tale of Paul McCartney and George Harrison’s private escapades to Mount Tamborine whilst in Queensland.
“It was the June 30 1964. Paul and George had snuck out to Mount Tamborine. It was only a rumour until I got in contact with the lady on Mount Tamborine who owned a hotel they visited. She had a photo of Paul and George outside the hotel,” Black said. “It is the only photo of any of the Beatles not performing during their time in Queensland.”
While Eight Days a Week explored the European and American tours of the Beatles, Black describes how from his knowledge, a large portion of what went on was not included. “Some aspects of the tour were wall papered over. But I understand why. Those behind the scenes sort of things were as much about a tour as the publicity and music was.”
Despite the lack of explicit background detail within the documentary, Black concedes the new footage sourced from television stations, newspapers and fans across the globe provide viewers a new perspective on The Beatles peak touring years. “I’m seeing new things, new themes. The sound and visual quality of the film is fantastic,” Black said.
As a go-to Beatles aficionado, Jeffrey Black often exhibits portions of his collection at museums and events along with engaging in public speeches about his knowledge on the history of The Beatles time in Australia and beyond.
If there is something to know about one of the most influential bands of the century, Jeffrey Black is your man. With fifty years of enthusiasm, collection and research – Black is keeping the legacy of the fab four alive today.
Words by Meg Gillespie
Image supplied by Cobb+Co Museum