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'Rattle your jewellery!' - The entire story of John Lennon's cheeky taunt

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November 4, 1963 - The Beatles performed at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in London for the Royal Variety Show. The band attracted ecstatic fans outside the theatre and throughout that Sunday, rehearsals the noise of the throng could be heard by the artists on stage. It was necessary to construct a screened passageway between the theatre and the hotel next door, where the Beatles were staying, in order to get them in and out of the theatre without being seen.

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The arrival of stars like Marlene Dietrich went practically unnoticed, although when the Queen Mother entered with Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, the fans cheered respectfully. Queen Elizabeth did not attend, as she was pregnant with Prince Edward. By this point Beatlemania in the UK was an established phenomenon, with the group drawing huge and frenzied audiences across the country. Their massively successful debut album “Please Please Me’ had been released in March of that year, cementing their superstardom and the “Beatlemania” phenomenon in their home country that would soon spread like wildfire across the planet.

Although they were seventh on the 19-act bill on this night, they were by far the most anticipated performers to appear. During rehearsal Paul McCartney managed to get his bass guitar caught in the curtains, but on the night itself the Beatles took the show by storm.

The Beatles began playing their opening song, “From Me To You”, before the curtains had opened. After the final chord John Lennon and Paul McCartney moved their microphone stands nearer the edge of the stage to get closer to the audience. The group bowed in unison at the end of the second song, “She Loves You”, after which McCartney made a nervous joke about Sophie Tucker being their “favorite American group”. They followed this with a performance of “Till There Was You”.

The Beatles in 1963 in the Prince of Wales Theatre

When the applause died down John and Paul moved their microphone stands back to their original positions, and Lennon made the announcement which won over any remaining doubters and guaranteed them headlines in all the next day’s newspapers.

“For our last number I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry. We’d like to sing a song called Twist And Shout.”

Lennon followed his infamous, yet hilarious, quip with a cheeky grin and a thumbs up, to which the Queen Mother responded by raising her free hand and smiling back at him. Even the crowd laughed and clapped in amusement.

At the close of the song Ringo joined the others center stage and the curtain closed behind them. They bowed, firstly to the audience, then to the royal box, before running off the stage.As Ringo remembered in “Beatles Anthology”: “Marlene Dietrich was also on. I met her and I remember staring at her legs – which were great – as she slouched against a chair. I’m a leg-man: ‘Look at those pins!”

The Beatles’ appearance was a triumph. However, they declined all subsequent invitations to reappear on the show, despite repeated attempts to lure them back. John Lennon explained in “Beatles Anthology”: “We managed to refuse all sorts of things that people don’t know about. We did the Royal Variety Show, and we were asked discreetly to do it every year after that, but we always said, ‘Stuff it.’ So every year there was a story in the newspapers: ‘Why no Beatles for the Queen?’ which was pretty funny, because they didn’t know we’d refused. That show’s a bad gig, anyway. Everybody’s very nervous and uptight and nobody performs well. The time we did do it, I cracked a joke on stage. I was fantastically nervous, but I wanted to say something to rebel a bit, and that was the best i could do.” The show was broadcast on UK television on November 10, 1963.

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