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December 17, 2021

Rare Photos of The Beatles Throw a Fancy Dress Party to Celebrate the Release of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’

As The Beatles typically celebrated Christmas with a party, in 1967, John Lennon suggested that they have a costume ball for the launch of their Magical Mystery Tour movie, scheduled to be shown on BBC television on December 26, and invite friends, family, and the film crew. The invitation read “Magical Mystery Tour Fancy Dress Party.” In other words, it was a costume party which was held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on December 21, 1967.

All The Beatles and their partners attended the costume ball. John was an Elvis-style rocker while Cynthia Lennon dressed as a Victorian lady. Paul and Jane Asher wore matching King and Queen outfits. Ringo was a Regency gentleman and Maureen Starkey an Indian maiden. George came as an Errol Flynn-style swashbuckler while Pattie Harrison was in an Eastern Princess costume later described by Cynthia as “incredibly sexy in an eastern dancer’s seven-veils-and-not-much-else outfit.”

At the party, the nineteen year-old singer Lulu, who was riding high on the success of her movie and single To Sir With Love, came dressed as Shirley Temple in a blond wig and carrying a large lollipop. Seeing a drunken John Lennon ignoring his wife and concentrating his attention on the sexily-dressed Pattie Harrison, Lulu went over to John and scolded him in a loud voice, waving her lollipop in the air at him. The normally-macho Lennon sat quietly and contritely with his head bowed, taking the criticism. Cynthia later wrote about the incident: “It was such a lovely sight, Lulu cornering John and giving him what for. John was much taken aback by Shirley Temple’s serious lecture on how to treat his wife.”

No photographs survive documenting this surreal incident, but there are a few scattered photos from the Magical Mystery Tour party itself. The most famous one is of John, holding a glass of wine, along with Paul and Ringo and their mates. Oddly, three of the night’s four main characters are not featured in the picture. George, Patti, and Cynthia are nowhere to be seen. One can surmise George and Patti may have left the party early. Or maybe they just stayed away from John for the remainder of the night. Ditto for John’s poor wife Cynthia.


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