There’s a common belief that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen was the first music video ever. The reality is that promotional films had ben getting made for music since back in the forties, and there’s sections of musical films which would probably have been able to be used.
This wasn’t the Beatles’ first double A-side (‘Eleanor Rigby’/’Yellow Submarine’ in the UK) and even though I still hold Revolver up as my favourite album ever, I think those two tracks were probably the weakest on it – though I obviously understand why Parlophone might have baulked at putting out ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’/’Love You To’ as a single, had it been discussed.
This was the first Beatles single in several years not to get to no.1 (held off by Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Please Release Me – oh the indignity!) yet it was one of their strongest singles, pulling together two of their best songs together ‘Strawberry Fields Ever’ and ‘Penny Lane.’ Both of them had ‘promotional films’ made for them – and this well over a decade before MTV launched in the US! NB I suspect the sleeve at the top was not the UK one – but can you guess why?
Oh and call it what you want, but this is a flippin’ well-iconic music video/film clip/promotional video.
From D.A. Pennebaker’s Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back
Finally, another early example of a promo video. This is the Rolling Stones doing ‘It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But I like It)’ in 1974. Years ago, I met bassist Bill Wyman (he was doing a signing in the bookshop where I worked at the tiome, Ottakar’s on George St, now gone). He told me that they’d each been insured for £1,000,000 for this video. Not surprising when you get to about three and a half minutes in…