This Monday in the Canarias LIVE section of Good Morning, Canarias! (Atlántico Radio) we took a trip back in time sixty springs ago. This month marks the 60th anniversary of the visit of some very special tourists to Tenerife. It was a band of young musicions who had just released their debut album Please Please Me and who went unnoticed by the residents of the islands. We are talking about the Beatles – Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – who in April 1963 travelled to the islands at the invitation of their musician friend Klaus Voorman and without John Lennon (who chose to go to Malaga), to rest after a period of intense recordings.
In his book “The Beatles’ holidays in the Canary Islands” (Nivaria Ediciones, 2018), the Tenerife historian Nicolás González Lemus has collected anecdotes as curious as the fact that in those twelve days that the British spent in the islands they suffered sunburns that made them look like “tomatoes” and were fored to use soothing creams at night.
Some of the activities the Beatles enjoyed during their holidays in the Canary Islands were watching a bullfight in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Bullring, visiting the Cañadas del Teide National Park, where they were “fascinated by the beautiful and strange landscape”, touring the Villa de La Orotava, admiring the Drago de Icod and bathing on the beach of San Marcos.
WHEN THE CANARY ISLANDS TURNED DOWN A CONCERT BY THE BEATLES
However, they spent most of their time in Puerto de la Cruz, where tourism was beginning to take off in the sixties. It was at Playa Martiánez where Paul McCartney almost drowned, when he found himself in trouble due to the force of the waves. After that, they decided to give up the beaches in favour of the swimming pool of Lido San Telmo, the cradle of Lago Martiánez. It was there, without doubt, that the most interesting episode took place, regarding the Beatles’ concert that could have taken place in Tenerife but never did.
“They had to trade the beach for the swimming pool and there they really enjoyed themselves and took advantage of the occasion to try to play in the Lido San Telmo orchestra disinterestedly, using the instruments that were at the top”, says González Lemus, who believes that they were refused a performance because they were perceived as “long-haired”, especially because they were accompanied by Klaus Voorman, who had his hair below his shoulders.
This missed opportunity for the Canary Islands to host The Beatles’ first concert in Spain is understandable in the context of the times. The country was still under Franco’s dictatorship, which hindered everything that meant progress, such as freedom of apparel and, above all, modern European and American culture.
However, there were a privileged few who heard the voices of The Beatles in the area of La Montañeta, in Los Realejos: “In Klaus Voormann’s chalet you could hear the music of Please Please Me, which they had brought with them and, according to the neighbours, who are now deceased but with whom I had the chance to speak, you could hear them singing at night”.
What we wouldn’t give now to be one of those privileged Tenerife residents who heard the instruments and voices of The Beatles live. Especially because, according to Klaus Voorman himself, those days they spent in Tenerife were the last days they lived like normal young people, without the pressure of the fans or the concerts. In the weeks that followed that trip to the Canaries, nothing would ever be the same for them again. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, together with John Lennon, would surprise the world with their innovations in the world of music, the messages of their songs and, also, their influences on men’s fashion.