On Friday, November 10, 1967, The Beatles arrived at the Saville Theatre in London’s West End to make three promotional films to support the release of their latest single. “Hello, Goodbye” had been recorded by The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios over five separate sessions between October 2 and November 2 and was due for release in the UK on November 24 and three days later in the US. Less than three weeks from finishing the record to its release – that’s what helped make pop music so vital, all those years ago.
Brian Epstein’s company, NEMS, leased the Saville Theatre in 1965 and it was still under lease despite The Beatles’ manager’s death a few months earlier. Before he passed away, Epstein staged a number of Sunday concerts at the Saville, including one by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on June 4, 1967. Both Paul and George attended the performance and heard the guitarist play his version of the title track to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Hendrix was booked to play a second show at the Saville on August 27, 1967, but the show was canceled following Brian Epstein’s death earlier that same day.
In November 1967, Paul took on the role of directing the shoot for “Hello, Goodbye” on 35mm color film and later remarked, “Directing a film is something that everyone always wants to get into. It was something I’d always been interested in, until I actually tried it. … There was so much of that going on – so many decisions to be made – that I ended up hating it.”
The Beatles hoped the BBC would use the film on their TV show, Top of the Pops. However, in June 1966 the Musicians’ Union had secured a ban on all performances on television that were mimed; in the union’s view, this would result in more work for its members. Despite George Martin creating a remixed version of the song without the violas, it was still obvious to everyone that The Beatles were miming “Hello, Goodbye,” so there was no TV transmission. On November 23, the day before the single was released, Top of The Pops showed a sequence from A Hard Day’s Night accompanied by the audio, a somewhat bizarre decision, but one that did nothing to affect the success of the record, which made the charts on December 2 and stayed at No. 1 for seven weeks; in the US it stayed at No. 1 for three weeks.
For the US market, Neil Aspinall personally couriered the videotape of “Hello, Goodbye” from the Saville Theatre shoot to New York for its debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, November 26, 1967; Sullivan introduced the film by reading a telegram from The Beatles; two nights later the promo was also shown on ABC’s, The Hollywood Palace.
All three versions appear on The Beatles 1+ DVD and Blu-ray sets that were released in 2015. In the first of the two films on the second disc in the package, The Beatles are dressed in their “street clothes.” The sequence included on disc 1 is a completely different take and shows the band wearing their ‘Sgt. Pepper outfits’. The third promo features elements of both the previous two versions as well as some completely new footage, notably John dancing the twist.