‘Lost’ Beatles Performance Footage Unearthed In Mexico

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A video of the Beatles performing on the U.K. music show Top of the Pops has been found in Mexico. The BBC states that the clip is 11 seconds long and is said to be their only live performance on the show. It was thought up until this point that the footage had been lost.

While the video itself is silent, the clip lasts for just over 10 seconds and shows the group playing “Paperback Writer” during their appearance at the BBC in 1966. The Fab Four prerecorded songs on various occasions for the show previously, but June 16, 1966, is the only time the band played live.

In 2000, a spokeswoman for the BBC said that “programmes were not archived as carefully as they are today,” and that some were “sadly lost.” The missing footage is said to have been a long talking point for Beatles fans over the years.

While the original tapes were never kept, the footage shown is said to have been recorded by a family in Liverpool using an 8mm camera. The video eventually ended up in the possession of a collector from Mexico who contacted the Birmingham-based organization Kaleidoscope in response to them looking for missing TV footage.

Chris Perry, a spokesman for Kaleidoscope, described the footage as “the holy grail” for fans of the Beatles.

“People thought it was gone forever because videotape wasn’t kept in 1966. To find it all these years later was stunning.”

Dr. Dori Howard, a lecturer in the Beatles and Popular Music at Liverpool Hope University, said that unearthing the footage is “a really big find.”

“It’s crazy, what are the chances?”

This is also not the first footage of the Beatles to have been discovered. In 1969, an early cut of the promotional video for their song “Something” was unearthed, which was also recorded for Top of the Pops.

Famously, the Beatles stopped touring after their last live show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during the height of their fame referred to as Beatlemania. They then reformed for a now famous one-off performance on the rooftop of London’s Apple Records in 1969.

The Beatles performing live on the rooftop of Apple Records, London
Featured image credit: Evening StandardGetty Images

This newly found footage will be played at the BFI in London as part of the Music Believed Wiped program. The program will also include additional highlights from 240 musicians and artists, including Elton John singing “Rocket Man” in 1972, T-Rex’s “Metal Guru” and a 1975 pieced-together performance from Slade.

The clip will be aired on April 20.