At the time of the song’s release, I was preparing to emigrate to Canada. It had proved to be a momentous year as 1964 approached and as I sailed across the Atlantic, my mind started to focus upon all the major news events of the past year(1963) that had affected the country I was leaving and had also influenced the part of the world I was going to; events which I now share with you. Just before I sailed from Liverpool to Nova Scotia the Beatles had just started to make a name for themselves in England but had yet to conquer America. John F.Kennedy had just been assassinated and America was in a shroud of mourning and a veil of uncertainty. The major events of 1963 I itemise are from a British and American perspective.
January 2nd, 1963: began with the Viet Cong winning their first major victory in the Battle of Ap Bac as they fought America and South Vietnam forces.
January 14th, 1963: George Wallace becomes the Governor of Alabama. In his inaugural speech, he defiantly proclaims "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!"
January 29th, 1963: French President Charles de Gaulle vetoes the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market.
February 11th, 1963: The Beatles record their debut album in a single day, ‘Please Please Me’ at Abbey Road studios in London. They release this record on March 22nd, 1963.
April 9th, 1963: British statesman Sir Winston Churchill becomes an honorary citizen of the United States.
June 11th, 1963: President John F. Kennedy broadcasts a historic ‘Civil Rights Address’ in which he promises a ‘Civil Rights Bill’ and asks for "the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves".
June 21st, 1963: Pope Paul VI succeeds Pope John XXIII as the 262nd Pope.
July 12th, 1963: Pauline Reade (16) is abducted by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in Manchester and becomes the first victim of the ‘Moors Murders’. Her remains are not located until July 1987.
August 8th, 1963: ‘The Great Train Robbery’ takes place in Buckinghamshire when £2.6 million is robbed from the ‘Royal Mail Train.’
August 28th, 1963: Martin Luther King Jnr. delivers his ‘I have a dream ‘speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial to an audience of 250,000. At this point in history, this was the single largest protest in American history.
September 5th, 1963: British would-be-model Christine Keeler is arrested for perjury for her part in the ‘Profumo Affair’ and in December 63, is sentenced to 9 months in prison. Minister John Profumo lied to the ‘House of Commons’ about his affair with the 19-year-old model Christine Keeler. Since Keeler had also had sexual relations with Yevgeni Ivanov, the senior naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy, the matter took on a national security dimension. Profumo’s political career ended in resignation, a factor that was later ascribed to bringing down the MacMillan Government of the day. The real importance of Profumo is that his life thereafter was a model of reformation. After his resignation, Profumo worked as a volunteer at ‘Toynbee Hall’, a charity in East London, and became its chief fundraiser. These charitable activities helped to restore his reputation and he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his charitable service in 1975.
The year comes to an inglorious end with President John.F.Kennedy being assassinated in a motorcade in Dallas: Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald; and Lee Harvey Oswald himself being fatally shot by Jack Ruby in Dallas. November 25th: 1963 witnesses the State funeral of John F.Kennedy in Arlington National Assembly: Back in England, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley abduct and kill 12-year-old John Kilbride: And just before I sail for Canada, in November1963, English writer, Aldous Huxley, author of 'Brave New World’ dies of cancer in the United States.
As this post started with the Beatles, it is fitting to end by reminding all that on December 26th 1963 as I was crossing the freezing Atlantic Ocean towards my ‘brave new world,’ two new Beatles records were released. ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ were released in the United States, marking the beginning of ‘Beatlemania’ on an international scale.
Love and peace Bill xxx