Beatles Royal Command Performance 1963 Poster – Fake News?

One of  the most re-produced photos of the Beatles shows them by a blue wall and doorway. It was made into a poster, licensed by Brian Epstein’s company, NEMS Enterprises, that sold hundreds of thousands copies over the world. The poster had the caption ‘Beatles London Palladium Royal Command Performance 1963 ‘.

Unfortunately, there are several things wrong with this poster. For a start, the 1963 Royal Command Performance was NOT at the London Palladium, it was at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The Beatles played at the Palladium a few weeks before the Royal Command Performance, which might have caused the confusion.

So, was the photo taken at the London Palladium? Err No. In fact it almost certainly wasn’t taken in the UK, and not  in 1963, but early 1964. Here is an out-take from the same photo session:

You can’t fail to notice the huge ‘Ford Service’ sign above the Beatles. There is nothing like this near the London Palladium! You will also notice that the poster photo has been reversed from this one.

So where was the photo taken? I wish I could be sure! Some say in was taken is Paris in January 1964, and some in Washington DC in February 1964. I thought it was Paris, but renowned French journalist and Beatles expert Jacques Volcouve says there was nothing like the ‘Ford Service’ place in Paris, and thinks it was taken in Washington.

Let’s look at more photos, that might give us a clue. Here is another out-take by the blue wall, that shows Paul wearing a shiny (maybe leather?) jacket, which he took off for the most famous photo.

Here are the Beatles coming out of the George V Hotel in Paris, with Paul wearing a leather jacket. Is it the same one? The other Beatles seem to be wearing the same clothes as the ‘Palladium’ poster.

Well the jury is out. What do you think? Paris or Washington? Who was the photographer? Any details would be gratefully received!

One thing is for sure though, it wasn’t taken at the Palladium!

Blogger Richard Porter is a London Beatles tour guide. For more info on his tours go to http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

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13 thoughts on “Beatles Royal Command Performance 1963 Poster – Fake News?”

  1. Nancy Riley says:

    I love the original color photo and had a school notebook with it on the cover. However, the first color photo is the one that is reversed. The b&w one where you can see the “Ford Service” is the correct configuration. You can tell by looking at their hair and the direction it is combed. Also Paul’s watch is on the wrong wrist. Being left-handed, he always wore it on his right wrist.

    1. Nancy Riley says:

      Sorry, just reread your blog and realized you did say that it was the original one was reversed. Backwards photos are my pet peeve!

  2. Graham says:

    Great work Richard.For me,it’s Paris.Look at Johns collar and Ringo.All wearing the same clothes from the George V.Now we need to find the location.

  3. Graham says:


  4. nigel ward says:

    Got to be Paris. Just because one journalist can’t remember if there was a Ford garage.

  5. Harold says:

    Thanks Richard for helping me with this qurious question that l posted on my “A Beatles World” page a week and a half ago. Using the same pictures
    I posted was a good idea Richard, because it help’s with the fact finding that others may know or can ad knowledge of it.
    I had 3 Parians write me at “A Beatles World” that the poster is not from a Paris local mostly because of “the bricks are not of French style” and also that “there never has been a FORD SERVICE in France,”
    I am so trying to find the truth of this photo’s location. Thanks so very much for your help! I love all YOU do for Beatles fans.

  6. Anne says:

    Thanks for an excellent article. I am no expert in vintage automotive signs, but when I looked for examples of that Ford Service “shield” symbol with the three lions, it appears it was a logo used in Europe.
    That suggests Paris, not Washington.
    Another idea that is rattling around in my mind is that perhaps this is not a real street. Perhaps it is a mock-up for advertising photos? It’s hard to see how it is located in the photos, but it does look a bit “stagey,” doesn’t it?

  7. Joe Heller says:

    Dezo Hoffmann was the photographer for the George V and (at least) the alt doorway shots – he writes in ‘With the Beatles’ (photo collection) that the George V photo was part of a photo shoot for Paris Match while in Paris. In another book, under that alt doorway photo, he says the doorway ‘gave me a premonition of visiting America, the home of Ford’ but doesn’t specify the location.

  8. Rodney says:

    I have this poster which I would like to take a pic and send to you with an explanation to see if it is an original first print. Be Safe! Be Healthy!

  9. Irma says:

    It’s Paris for sure, they’re wearing the same suits and coats they wore in a pic taken in front of the Georges V Hotel.

  10. Edward S. says:

    That’s not Ford Motor Company, as they always used a cursive style font for the name FORD. So that’s likely a garage/service station owned by someone named Ford and it does look like it could have been taken in the alley or side streets behind the old Washington Coliseum. It was February 1964 and there was snow on the ground and it might be that you can see snow in the bottom left corner of the outtake photo. So looks like Washington DC to me but NEMS made a deal to distribute the photo as a poster, so there must be a contract or some documentation somewhere that at least names the photographer. Has no one ever stepped up and claimed that they took it?

  11. S. MacCallum says:

    Paul’s new (2023) photo book has a photo he took of John and George in the same doorway. Paul’s caption says “Paris 1964” . Location solved by Sir Paul himself. The building is another matter….

    1. Edward S. says:

      That’s great news. I love being hilariously wrong 🙂
      Do we know who the photographer was?

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