Shop display, mechanical, The Beatles, wood / metal, maker unknown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1963-1964
The Beatles' tour of Australia in 1964 was one of the most influential events in Australian popular culture with wide reaching effects. The tour, which also included New Zealand, was the only time the Beatles as a group came to the two countries.
This shop display, made around the time of the 1964 tour, is significant in its representation of the influence the Beatles had in Australia as the phenomenon of Beatlemania eventually hit. By the time the Beatles arrived in Australia in June 1964 they were the biggest name in popular music in the world. Multitudes of dedicated fans were eager to buy Beatle music and local record shops did a roaring trade in singles, EPs and LPs. Although official mass-produced merchandise appeared on the market fans also created their own love tokens of the Fab Four such as handmade jumpers, badges and signs. Similarly although some official promotional material was used for the band's records, some businesses came up with creative ways to sell their product in an attempt to outdo their competitors and take advantage of the commercial opportunities Beatlemania had to offer. This shop display shows one such creative approach. It was used by a Sydney record shop to advertise the Beatles' records and their tour. Although not part of the official promotional material the display would have been a striking sight with its moving parts powered by a small electric motor. Each figure of the four Beatles had a moving head and one of their arms also moved to give the impression they were playing their instruments.
The Beatles' music and Australian tour had an enormous influence on Australian musicians and the listening public and saw the beginning of a new wave of local bands that could play to audiences eager to hear the new sounds of rock and roll.
Glenn A Baker; The Beatles Down Under (Wild & Woolley, Glebe, NSW, 1982).
Mark Hayward; The Beatles In Australia (New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2005).
Performing Arts Museum, Victoria; A Special Madness: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Beatles in Australia (Victoria Press, Melbourne, 1993).
Curator, music & musical instruments
Amateur made one-off item for use in a Sydney record shop display. Possibly made by the shop owner. Used for the promotion of Beatle records and the Australian Beatle tour in 1964. Figures move and are powered by a small electric motor.
Used by a Sydney record shop for the promotion of the Beatles during their 1964 tour of Australia. The suits worn by the figures suggest the display is consistent with this date and a time before 1965 when the Beatles clothing began to change in style.