Today marks the availability of the so-called Super Deluxe version of The Beatles Revolver, which was first released 5 August, 1966. The reviews are all positive (so far), and I will not rehash them except to say that is is difficult to understate how different the album was at the time. Tomorrow Never Knows literally blew people away, and the cover by Klaus Voormann was a big deal (he won a Grammy for the art).
For me personally it is an important release, and I think still my favourite album of all time by any artist. I remember the day I got the mono vinyl, which I still have though it is rather worn.
It is no exaggeration to say that the music was on repeat everywhere. Extraordinary times, as only in May The Beatles had released Paperback Writer / Rain. In those days, singles and albums were quite separate.
I decided to go back and look at what else was going on in 1966. There was a Labour Government landslide election, England won the World Cup, white Rhodesia was a huge issue, as were protests against the Vietnam War. Spain was blockading Gibraltar. Pandas were mating, Longleat Lions entered our consciousness, the Kray’s were shooting people and Ken Loach started his journey to become a national treasure with Cathy Come Home. Credit Cards and ATMs were invented, Hovercrafts started service across the Channel, and electric train lines started to become the norm.
The saddest UK event was most certainly the Aberfan disaster, though a major BOAC plane crash also happened that year.
Time Magazine named the capital Swinging London, David Frost and Dr Who were on the telly.
As for me, well I was painting, trying all kinds of things and yet to settle on a style. Abstract was my main output, though our Grammar School art teacher (‘Chippy’ Heath) got me into cut-ups and more, often using the Sunday Times magazine which also introduced me to the world of photography via Don McCullin and others. I took up the camera seriously later that year.
Mick Yates. 1966. Untitled Abstract. Oil on Paper.
Mick Yates. 1966. Gonk. Paper on paper.
At school I was something of a swot (… don’t say anything … ) and O-Level results were released at the end of August. A bit incongruously, I was also a sprinter and relay runner in the Burton Grammar School Athletics team, something which did not survive my perhaps late discovery of all things rock ‘n roll that same summer (I was 16).
Burton Grammar School Athletics Team, July 1966. Mick, second row, 5th from right (glasses).
I have always been a hoarder (Ingrid is probably tearing her hair out as I write this), so I want back to my diaries of the time.
Well, on 3rd September my horoscope apparently foretold I would have a good time. That night was indeed party night. Revolver was on repeat, there was a seemingly endless supply of booze and other 60’s condiments, and I recall dancing to Good Day Sunshine with a young french lady. For a bumpkin like me who had never left the UK this was very exciting.
My diary tells when I got home, though I suspect that was a guess.
Mick’s Diary, That Party, 1966.
What else can I say?
1966 was a hell of a year, and Revolver anchored everything.
3 January – British Rail begins full electric passenger train services over the West Coast Main Line from Euston to Manchester and Liverpool with 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) operation from London to Rugby.
20 January – The Queen commutes the death sentence on a Black prisoner in Rhodesia, two months after its abolition in the UK.
1 March – Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan announces the decision to embrace decimalisation of the pound (which will be effected on 15 February 1971).
5 March – BOAC Flight 911 crashes in severe clear-air turbulence over Mount Fuji soon after taking off from Tokyo International Airport, killing all 124 on board.
9 March – Ronnie Kray shoots George Cornell (an associate of rivals The Richardson Gang) at The Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, East London. Cornell dies in hospital, and Kray is convicted in 1969.
10 March – The Frost Report, which launches the television careers of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett and others is first broadcast on BBC One
11 March – Chi-Chi, London Zoo’s giant panda, is flown to the Soviet Union for a union with An-An of Moscow Zoo.
31 March – The Labour Party led by Harold Wilson win the general election with a landslide majority of 96 seats. At the 1964 election held just 17 months earlier, Labour had a narrow majority of five seats.
6 April – Hoverlloyd inaugurate the first regular hovercraft service across the English Channel, from Ramsgate to Calais.
7 April – The United Kingdom asks the United Nations Security Council to use force to stop oil tankers that violate the oil embargo against Rhodesia. Authority is given on 10 April.
11 April – The Marquess of Bath, in conjunction with Jimmy Chipperfield, opens Longleat Safari Park, with ‘the lions of Longleat’, at his Longleat House, the first such drive-through safari park outside of Africa.
15 April – Time magazine uses the phrase Swinging London.
1 May – The Beatles play their last conventional live concert in Britain, at the Empire Pool (Wembley) on the bill alongside The Rolling Stones and The Who.
2 May – Scottish inventor James Goodfellow obtains a patent for an automated teller machine using a plastic card and PIN.
16 June – The Beatles performed live on BBC television’s Top of the Pops for the first and only time, miming to Paperback Writer and its b-side, Rain.
29 June – Barclays introduces the Barclaycard, the first British credit card.
3 July – 31 arrests are made after a protest against the Vietnam War outside the United States Embassy in London by around 4,000 people turns violent.
16 July – Prime Minister Harold Wilson flies to Moscow to try to start peace negotiations over the Vietnam War. The Soviet Government rejects his ideas.
30 July – England beats West Germany 4–2 to win the 1966 World Cup at Wembley, in a game which attracts an all-time record UK television audience of more than 32 million.
1 August – The Colonial Office merges with the Commonwealth Relations Office to form a new Commonwealth Office.
2 August – Spanish government forbids overflights by British military aircraft.
5 August – The Beatles release the album Revolver.
10 August – George Brown succeeds Michael Stewart as Foreign Secretary.
29 August – The Beatles play their very last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.
15 September – Britain’s first Polaris submarine, HMS Resolution, launched at Barrow-in-Furness.
20 October – 437,229 people are reported to be unemployed in the UK – a rise of some 100,000 on the previous month’s figures.
21 October – Aberfan disaster in South Wales. 144 (including 116 children) are killed by a collapsing coal spoil tip.
25 October – Spain closes its Gibraltar border against vehicular traffic.
29 October – Actor William Hartnell makes his last regular appearance as the First Doctor in the concluding moments of Episode 4 of the Doctor Who serial The Tenth Planet, regenerating into the Second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton.
16 November – BBC television drama Cathy Come Home, filmed in a docudrama style, is broadcast on BBC One. Viewed by a quarter of the British population, it is influential on public attitudes to homelessness and related social issues. It was written by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach.
24 November – The Beatles begin recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album at Abbey Road Studios.
20 December – Harold Wilson withdraws all his previous offers to the Rhodesian government and announces that he will agree to independence for the country only after the establishment of Black majority government.
Timeline from Wikipedia
Annie Zeliski. sdfdsfsfgs. The Beatles: Revolver Special Edition (Super Deluxe) review – experimental genius in real time. The Guardian. 27 October, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/oct/27/the-beatles-revolver-album-special-edition-super-deluxe-review
Kory Grow. Shared Genius. Rolling Stone Magazine. 25 October, 2022. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/beatles-revolver-super-deluse-edition-review-1234617075/
VOORMANN, Klaus. 2016. Birth of an Icon Revolver 50. Wielenbach: Saltz & Druck Peter Molnar.