Sometimes, something as simple as a single clause in a contract can speak volumes about people. For proof, look no further than a contract for The Beatles for a 1965 concert in the state of California, which specified that the band would not have to perform in front of a segregated audience. Something that should be seen as a huge statement considering that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.
What Convinced The Beatles of the Need for That Clause in Their Contract?
With that said, it is interesting to note that said contract was far from being the first time that The Beatles had taken a stance on the issue of racial segregation. After all, when The Beatles was on their first tour in the United States, they were surprised by the fact that the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL was segregated on the basis of race. As a result, the band refused to play, which was even more impressive because this happened at a time when they were still seen as one more short-lived teen sensation rather than the musical titans that they went on to become.
Regardless, The Beatles held to their position, with the result that it was the event holders who backed down first. This is perhaps unsurprising consider some of their reactions on the issue. For example, John Lennon outright stated that he would rather lose the money than to start playing at segregated shows. Likewise, Paul McCartney explained that they didn’t take a stand on the issue of racial segregation because they wanted it to be a “goody-goody thing” but rather because they thought it was stupid and senseless.
Whatever the case, The Beatles had a consistent stance on the matter, as shown by the fact that they also refused to stay at a segregated hotel while they were in the city. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that The Beatles didn’t just make their opinions known but essentially shouted it out for the world to hear by releasing a public statement that they refused to play until black people could sit anywhere they pleased at the show. This resulted in some serious hostility towards them from the local press, but in exchange, it won them a lot of credit from a lot of people, which is particularly interesting because The Beatles were not exactly the most political of bands out there.
By the time of the concert in the state of California, The Beatles were much better prepared for something that had surprised them the first time. As a result, they had the clause stating that they would not be required to play segregated shows inserted into their contract, thus making their position on the matter even clearer while avoiding further fuss and hassle. Besides this, it is interesting to note that Paul McCartney went on to write “Blackbird,” which was written in 1968. He has stated that the song was inspired by the struggle of black people in the United States, which is an interpretation that has been disputed by some in the decades since its release.
However, Paul McCartney did say that the titular black bird was meant to symbolize a black woman and that he wrote the song after reading about riots in a rehearsal in 1968, which lends support to his statement on the matter. Whatever the case, the clause in The Beatles’ contract is a neat reminder that there are celebrities out there who are willing to take risks to push for what they think is right instead of just staying silent and playing it safe.