The evidence that this band from Liverpool supported the civil rights movement in America is in a contract from 1965, which states that the “Beatles not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience.” This document will be auctioned off next week, according to the BBC.
The times have changed and thankfully so, as today there is no need for a clause such as this in a contract for any performers. While this contract speaks to the Beatles train of thought during this uneasy era, it also documents a time in history, which in the scope of things was not so long ago.
Brian Epstein, the manager for this long-haired group from Liverpool, was the one who signed the contract for the concert, which took place at the Cow Palace in California. Along with their refusal to turn away any minority groups from their performances, the agreement also shows how things have changed for rock groups when it comes to payment and the little idiosyncrasies that appear in their contracts today.
The contract also conveyed that the Beatles were to be paid $40,000 dollars for two sets, a matinee and a concert in the evening. In all actuality, one of the biggest rock bands of all time made just $20,000 for each of these concerts. According to Forbes, Lady Gaga’s makes about $800,000 per concert for herself and she is only the seventh highest paid musician in the world. This is a big jump from what the boys from Liverpool were paid, even if it was almost 50 years ago.
The only other contingencies in the contract were a special drumming platform for Ringo and a security clause, which asked for 150 uniformed officers. The second set of this concert at the Cow Palace had to be halted as fans rushed the stage. The Beatles, or their manager, had enough insight to ask for a large security detail.
Today the top performers include things in their contract that are trivial compared to what the “She Loves You” musicians asked for in 1965. Today’s rock stars demand everything from bowls of M&M’s, like rocker Van Halen, to televisions with a special movie channel playing in their dressing rooms, like the singing diva Cher. The Herald Sun reports that, Barry Manilow stipulates that his “fan club show up at 11 am to decorate his dressing room.”
Aretha Franklin insists that $25,000 in cash be handed to her out of her payment before she takes the stage and Busta Rhymes contract says that he must have a “supply of Moet Chandon champagne, a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and some condoms,” says the Herald. One would assume he plans to take advantage of his groupies?
This is a far cry from the Beatles, who wanted little more than security and a platform for the drummer. Their biggest clause, when playing in the US, was the non-segregated concerts. They out-right refused to play for a segregated audience at the Jacksonville , Florida Gator Bowl in 1964.
John Lennon said, "We never play to segregated audiences and we aren't going to start now. I'd sooner lose our appearance money." The song “Blackbird” was written by Paul McCartney after seeing the struggle for racial equality in America.
The August 31, 1965 concert contract is expected to fetch $5,000 on September 20, 2011. A memorabilia auctioneer in Los Angeles is conducting the auction.