Reference Library: Tokyo Beatlemania
Beatlemania Infects Diplomats, 1966 Files Reveal
By Paul Majendie
LONDON - Newly released documents reveal that even staid British
diplomats were seized by Beatlemania when the Fab Four took Tokyo by storm
And British Embassy staffers in Japan were able to breathe a collective
sigh of relief as the Beatles shrugged off death threats and performed
under the watchful eye of 35,000 police, the papers show.
Charge d'Affaires Dudley Cheke's confidential memo to his diplomatic
masters in London came to light Wednesday when 30-year-old state papers
were at last made public.
By coincidence, the papers were released a day after ex-Beatle Paul
McCartney was knighted in Britain's New Year's honors.
Cheke told how fans were enraged at being kept "ridiculously out of range"
during the 1966 tour.
The Beatles, virtual prisoners in their hotel suite, never got to see the
sights of Tokyo.
But Cheke, eager to boost the "Swinging Sixties" image of fashionable
London, hailed the visit as a resounding success.
"The Beatles typhoon swept the youth of Japan off their feet," he declared
in his telegram to the Foreign Office.
Cheke abandoned diplomatic niceties to enthuse: "They were a five-day
wonder, and a Beatles mood gripped the city.
"The popularity of the four young 'pop' singers from Liverpool, at its
height, was said to be the envy of Cabinet ministers."
But 35,000 policemen had to be mobilized as "fanatical opponents of the
group and all they were supposed to stand for had threatened to have them
"The Beatles, I am happy to say, were at no time in any physical danger in
Japan," Cheke wrote.
He said the biggest task faced by police was comforting "the sobbing
teenage girls who found that the physical presence of John, George, Paul
and Ringo was more than they could take."
Cheke won praise for his lively "Fab Four" dispatch, with one official
scribbling on it: "This is instructive as well as entertaining. Much of
Whitehall (Britain's civil service) needs reminding that the Japanese are
The Beatles sang for just 30 minutes at each of their five concerts at the
Budokan Hall of Martial Arts, a venue that sparked controversy among
"The Hall has occasionally been used for less lofty purposes but never for
anything so alien to the Japanese martial spirit as an electric guitar
concert," Cheke wrote to London.
Tickets were like gold dust and the diplomat's popularity soared as
"various highly placed Japanese and foreign personalities had seen in us
the only hope of obtaining tickets for themselves or their offspring."
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