Paul McCartney said the British public transport system was partly responsible for the Beatles’ success.
He looked back on the years following the Second World War, as he grew up in a period when the U.K. government developed a series of publicly-funded social strategies including the 1944 Education Act, the 1947 Transport Act and the launch of the National Health Service in 1948.
“It was this amazing system,” McCartney said of the bus and railway network during a discussion about his new book, The Lyrics (via NME), noting that it helped young like-minded people like his bandmates to meet. “I didn’t realize that we were kind of the first generation to benefit from that. Also, there was an education act that meant that kids like me from not very well-off homes could go to very posh schools. This gave everyone over Britain this opportunity to be more mobile and better educated – and that was a big factor in the cultural revolution.”
He cited his upbringing in Liverpool as one of the reasons why he and his bandmates were shocked to be told they’d be playing to segregated audiences on their first U.S. tour. “Liverpool [included] the first Caribbean community [in the UK], so it was just a given,” he said of multiracial life. “Nobody thought anything of it. A lot of the guys in the groups were black, so we didn’t think much of it. We just thought they were mates, we just thought they were equal – because they were.”
He continued: “When we went to America, there was this time when we were going to play Jacksonville or somewhere… the promoter said, ‘OK, get ready because tomorrow night [when] you’re going to be playing, the black people will sit over there and the white people will sit over there’. We said, ‘Excuse me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that’s how we do it down here.’ So we said, ‘Oh no, no, no, no! You can’t do that’.”