Somehow, the most iconic imagery of the most iconic band comes from an animated feature that exists only because they saw it as an easy way to cop out of a three-movie deal. A disastrous and instantly forgotten animated TV series had come before – where The Beatles were portrayed by American actors to make their accents understandable to a stateside audience – so expectations for a full-length film were low. Instead, it captured the essence of the psychedelic Sixties like nothing else: all love, all a bit bizarre.
As the film turns 50, Malcolm Draper, who was a 24-year-old animator when recruited to work on Yellow Submarine, tells us of his life in the land of Blue Meanies and multicoloured pullovers.
As told to Steven Mackenzie by Malcolm Draper
The late 1960s was the height of Beatlemania, flower power, and I was all into that, of course. Most of us [animators] were young and we all wore tie-dye flowery shirts. People always think we were drugged up. The only drug I took was Double Diamond beer.
The Beatles didn’t want to do the voices – they were too busy making money. George Harrison didn’t like the idea of the film but Paul McCartney and John Lennon were very enthusiastic when they heard the basic story and saw designs.