"Magical Mystery Tour" is the name of the album and double EP by the English rock band The Beatles, first released in late 1967 (see 1967 in music). The double EP was recorded at the end of an extremely creative 18-month period which also included 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" Band.
It is also a one-hour television film that was originally aired, in black and white, in the UK in 1967 (see 1967 in television). After critical and public response to the premiere proved negative, plans to air the film on ABC Television in the U.S. were cancelled, and "Magical Mystery Tour' didn't appear in the U.S. until 1976, as a theatrical release on the midnight movies and college circuits, both of which were mainly underground.
After Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul McCartney wanted to create a film based upon the Beatles and their music. The film was to be unscripted: various "ordinary" people (including John Lennon's uncle Charlie) were to travel on a charabanc bus and have unspecified "magical" adventures, in the manner of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters.
"The Magical Mystery Tour" movie was made, but the hoped-for "magical" adventures never happened. During the filming, an ever greater number of cars followed the hand-lettered bus, hoping to see what its passengers were up to, until a running traffic jam developed. The spectacle ended after Lennon angrily tore the lettering off the sides of the bus.
"Magical Mystery Tour" was the first Beatles film project following the death of manager Brian Epstein in August 1967, and there has been much speculation that the absence of Epstein's judgment contributed to its undisciplined production, as seen, for instance, in the absence of a screenplay and professional direction. The film originally appeared twice on BBC-TV over the 1967 Christmas holidays, but was savaged by critics on its release; it has, however, been praised by filmmakers like Steven Spielberg.
The movie's soundtrack was far more favourably received, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for best album in 1968.