The Time The Beatles Almost Bought An Entire Greek Island
via Elena the Beatles photos/YouTube
Nothing Came Out Of It
You know what’s better than going on a vacation or buying a mansion? It’s having your own island which is only possible if you have a seemingly-endless supply of money like… The Beatles.
It was in the summer of 1967 when John Lennon urged his bandmates to purchase a set of islands off the coast of Greece. It’s where they would live with their families and also work. The main island is called Leslo but records don’t show anything with that name. And apparently, there are four smaller islands surrounding it where each member would build their own villas. And because they’re The Beatles, there would be a recording studio and an entertainment complex too.
It’s not just The Fab Four, they would also include their manager Brian Epstein and their crew.
Lennon said, “We’re all going to live there, perhaps forever, just coming home for visits. Or it might just be six months a year. It’ll be fantastic, all on our own on this island. There some little houses which we’ll do up and knock together and live communally.”
And it wasn’t all planning. The Beatles, sans Ringo Starr, traveled all the way to Greece and toured the islands to the south of Athens aboard the MV Arvi. Aside from island-hopping, they went swimming, sunbathing, and well, indulging in drugs.
George Harrison recalled, “Somebody had said we should invest some money, so we thought: ‘Well, let’s buy an island. We’ll just go there and drop out.’
“It was a great trip. John and I were on acid all the time, sitting on the front of the ship playing ukuleles. Greece was on the left; a big island on the right. The sun was shining and we sang ‘Hare Krishna’ for hours and hours. Eventually we landed on a little beach with a village, but as soon as we stepped off the boat it started pouring with rain. There were storms and lightning, and the only building on the island was a little fisherman’s cottage – so we all piled in: ”Scuse us, squire. You don’t mind if we come and shelter in your cottage, do you?’
“The island was covered in big pebbles, but Alex [Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas] said, ‘It doesn’t matter. We’ll have the military come and lift them all off and carry them away.’ But we got back on the boat and sailed away, and never thought about the island again.”
They all enjoyed the trip but instead of being lured into living there, they decided once was enough.
According to Paul McCartney, “We went on the boat and sat around and took acid. It was good fun being with everyone, with nippier moments. For me the pace was a bit wearing. I probably could have done with some straight windows occasionally, I’d have enjoyed it a bit more. But nothing came of that, because we went out there and thought, We’ve done it now. That was it for a couple of weeks. Great, wasn’t it? Now we don’t need it. Having been out there, I don’t think we needed to go back. Probably the best way to not buy a Greek island is to go out there for a bit.”
He added, “It’s a good job we didn’t do it, because anyone who tried those ideas realised eventually there would always be arguments, there would always be who has to do the washing-up and whose turn it is to clean out the latrines. I don’t think any of us were thinking of that.”
NEMS employee Alistair Taylor arranged the purchase and even got a clearance from the Greek government. But at that point, The Beatles were no longer interested. They did make some profit from the special export dollars when they sold it back to the government.
And Harrison later noted that “It was about the only time The Beatles ever made any money on a business venture. To make the purchase, we’d changed the money into international dollars or some currency. Then, when they changed the money back, the exchange rate had gone up and so we made about twenty shillings or so.”
Ringo Starr also admitted that they “were great at going on holiday with big ideas, but we never carried them out. We were also going to buy a village in England — one with rows of houses on four sides and a village green in the middle. We were going to have a side each.”