The Day the Beatles Ran a Relay Race

beatles-running

It was May 11, 1965. The Beatles were on location, wrapping up filming their second movie “Help!” The “Help!” director, Richard Lester, was to film a few atmosphere and scenery shots in London the next day, and after that, the 55th day of filming, “Help!” would officially wrap.

The Beatles’ final scenes on this historic day were filmed at Clivedon House, a 19th century stately home in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Clivedon House was doubling as Buckingham palace in these scenes.

Sometime during this day, the Beatles were officially “challenged” to a relay race by the crew of “Help!” Although world famous and universally popular as singers, musicians and composers, the Fab Four’s athletic prowess left much to be desired. It was during the “Help!” shoot that all four Beatles openly admitted to smoking and indulging in marijuana use, relatively frequently, if not daily. Besides the marijuana indulgence, the Beatles also liked their meals and enjoyed fine food. John Lennon was to call this his “Fat Elvis” period, as well as remember it as his “steak and whiskey” era.

But being adventurous lads, the boys readily accepted the challenge.

The race was to be around Clivedon Gardens, outside of and around Clivedon House. There were four separate relay teams, each team consisting of six members. Besides the Beatles team, there were the electricians, the carpenters and the camera operators. The Beatles team consisted of the Fab Four, plus their road manager Neil Aspinall and their chauffeur Alf Bicknell.

So how’d they do? John, Paul, George, Ringo, Neil and Alf were to be the victors in the once-in-a-lifetime race that, according to Paul was: “Fifteen furlongs, I’d say”. (So just under 2 miles.) Paul also said the Beatles were “very proud” of their relay race victory.

There is no record of exactly when the race took place during the day, whether before the day’s shoot was finished, during the lunch break, at the end of the day, or during a “wrap” celebration. However, the relay race was filmed. Sadly, the footage has never been released to the public.

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Bonus Beatles Facts:

  • John Lennon once almost beat a man to death: Rumors that John Lennon was gay were swirling when things came to a head with a disc jockey the Beatles knew named Bob Wooler.  Wooler was a very close friend of the Beatles and had introduced them on stage some 300 times.  This incident happened at Paul’s 21st birthday party, on June 18, 1963.  At the party, Wooler was joking around with John and said (with heavy gay intimations): “Come on John, what really happened with you and Brian? Everybody knows anyway, so tell us.”  John had been heavily drinking that night and Lennon was a notorious “bad drunk”.  In a blind rage, John proceeded to beat the stuffing out of a very surprised Bob Wooler, literally kicking him repeatedly in the ribs as he lay on the ground in a bloody heap.  According to John, the only reason he actually stopped the savage beating was because, “I realized I was actually going to kill him…  I just saw it like a screen. If I hit him once more, that’s really going to be it. I really got shocked and for the first time thought: ‘I can kill this guy.’”  Wooler was rushed to the hospital and given treatment for a variety of things, including broken ribs.  Luckily for John Lennon- and the Beatles’ future amazing run- Wooler survived the ordeal.
  • The Beatles’ song Sexy Sadie, while it may sound like it is about a woman, is actually about a man John Lennon was extremely angry with- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The original lyrics were incredibly cruel and vile, as Paul remembers John first playing the tune for him.  “Who the f**k do you think you are?” was about the mildest of the original lyrics. John’s song referred to the Maharishi in the worst possible sexual epithets.  It was George who advised John to tone the song down and change the title from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie”.
  • Paul McCartney’s biggest hit, “Yesterday,” was originally named “Scrambled Eggs.” He thought up the tune for it in a dream and when he woke up, quickly wrote down some nonsense lyrics for it, the chorus of which stuck for some time until he thought up “Yesterday.”  The other original lyrics included, “Scrambled eggs, Oh you’ve got such lovely legs, Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.”
  • John Lennon was the only Beatle who didn’t become a full-time vegetarian.  George Harrison was the first Beatle vegetarian; according to most sources, he became an official vegetarian in 1965.  Paul McCartney joined the “veggie” ranks a few years later. Ringo became a vegetarian not so much for spiritual reasons, like Paul and George, but because of health problems. John had toyed with vegetarianism in the sixties, but he always ended up eating meat, one way or another.
  • In the last photo of John Lennon while he was alive, he was signing an album to the person who was to assassinate him a few hours later. John obligingly signed a copy of his latest album “Double Fantasy” on the morning of his death for his killer. Later that same day, John returned from the recording studio and was gunned down by Mark David Chapman. Morbidly, a photographer later sneaked into the morgue containing John’s body and snapped a photo of it before it was cremated the day after his assassination. Yoko Ono has never revealed the whereabouts of the ashes or what she did with them.
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