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Beatles Refused To Play For Segregated Audiences, Contract Reveal

The Beatles

First Posted: 09/16/11 05:33 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 05:12 AM ET

UPDATE: Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn tells Examiner's Beatle's page that the clause against playing for a segregated audience was not a one-time thing for the band; according to documents he's unearthed there were multiple tours in 1965 and 1966 in which Fab Four refused to work in front of a racially unequal crowd.
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PREVIOUSLY: In 1971, John Lennon released an album called "Some Time In New York City," a snap shot of the tumultuous politics and revolutionary spirit of the time. Amongst the songs on the record was "Attica State," an angry response to the violent quelling of a prison riot that took down inmates in Attica State Prison rebelling against the murder of a black prisoner in San Quentin.

"Come together join the movement/ Take a stand for human rights/ Fear and hatred clouds our judgement/ Free us all from endless night," Lennon passionately pleaded, calling on his fan base to speak out against the shooting. But while this was perhaps his most radical recording, new documents reveal that Lennon and the rest of his then-intact Fab Four took a stand against inequality while still in the prime years of The Beatles, too.

According to the Guardian, a contract for the band's 1965 concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, right outside San Francisco, made modest demands of the venue despite their fame. What they would not oblige, though, was discrimination. As the newspaper points out, they refused to play to a "segregated audience," demanding equality at their show.

In those times, it was no small request, and shows a new sense of nerve following the working class band's early rise to the top. In a show in London at the Prince of Wales Theater in 1963, Lennon riffed on the fierce income difference amongst the crowd: "For our last number I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry."

The contract is now up for auction; for more, click over to The Guardian.

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Filed by Jordan Zakarin  |