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George’s First Visit to USA


A few years ago younger son had asked me to buy him a gift subscription to Smithsonian Magazine. Since then they have sent me marketing materials to re-subscribe.

When I saw the deal of $8 for a whole year of Smithsonian, which has some really good pictures I can use for collage after reading, I signed up for 2 years.

The first issue, May 2020, arrived a couple of weeks ago. It sat there for at least a few days as a white horse is on the cover; although I like horses, it wasn’t compelling enough to pick it up.

As this magazine isn’t the type I read from cover to cover (like I used to read Rolling Stone and Oprah Magazine,) I went to the Table of Contents. Imagine my delighted shock to find listed on page 60, “Meet the Beatle!” The description says:

The year before the Fab Four’s “Ed Sullivan” debut, George Harrison was just a desheveled-looking bloke from Liverpool visiting his sister in a small town in Illinois and playing guitar for fun with a local band. The feature is written by Alan Pell Crawford, with photographs by Ackerman + Gruber.

The article has delightful photos of this and that, including one of a really cool billboard near Benton, IL, of a giant George playing his Rickenbacker and female adoring fans looking up at him. There’s a photo of Louise, George’s sister; George holding his toddler niece, Leslie; and older brother, Peter, who also made the trip with George. There is a current photo of the first person to interview George on American radio, when “she was just 17.”

The article includes several quotes from people still living in Benton who remember George’s visit. There is a story of when George bought his Rickenbacker 425. I don’t want to include too much more, but needless to say, anyone who is a fan of The Beatles, and George in particular, is going to want to take a look at this issue of Smithsonian.

What is probably the most amazing thing of all is that the whole issue is available online for free. Free!? Why did I buy the mag if I can see it online? Oh well. I still can use the pics.

Find the Geo feature here.


22 thoughts on “George’s First Visit to USA

  1. Thanks for the heads up- we get that mag at the library I will look for it when I work on Tuesday. … I don’t know holding a book or magazine in your hand and turning the pages is much more desirable than reading it online- at least to me!… speaking of which I made my first trip to a book store since early March. Should have just stayed home- they are way behind on stocking the shelves very little ‘new” as far as books or mags…oh well. At least I got out. There were more employees there than customers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love reading the minutiae of the visit. Does Geo talk about that visit in any of his books (I think he wrote more than one?) Agreed on reading magazines. I’ve started buying more e-books and now realize it chains me to the computer even more, unless I invest in a kindle or similar. I bet it seemed weird to go into a virtually empty bookstore. You’re back to work now?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have read about George being the first to visit America- visiting his sister and some details on the visit. Looking forward to seeing the article… we’ve been doing curbside service for a few weeks- opening on Monday with shortened hours to the public. We won’t be having inter-library service for sometime. How about your library? Yes it was weird- I didn’t know what to expect- I ran up to the suburbs of Pittsburgh to a Barnes and Noble. They were really going out of their way welcoming people in -but they didn’t have much to do. I think there were three or four other customers… and no line in checking out. . I went to a Half-Price Book Store also- a smaller store- and not many in there either… Just an observation I picked up in both stores-the guy in each store who I took as ‘the boss”- especially in the Half Price Books- very disrespectful in how he was talking to the workers under him. You would think with the public inside …… not a good look.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Our library continues to be closed “until further notice.” I won’t know about inter-library loans until it does. I still have a stack of DVDs to return. Stores have been an ok to open but no idea is anyone is going to them. What an ass both of the “bosses” were that you encountered which is a shame.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The inter-library loans- are down until something like 80 % of the libraries are back opened I guess- what the company has said was its not profitable for them to be in operation until that happens. Who knows when things will get back to normal? Hope you are staying safe!

            Liked by 1 person

              1. A co-worker and I were talking the other day and i just threw out the “when do you think we will get back to normal”- and of course she has no more inside information or knowledge than we do- and her immediate answer- was ‘ maybe this time next year.”…. I think an effective vaccine or vaccines- have to made an appearance first..

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article… “They’re great people. They were glad to see me—not because I’m a Beatle, but because I’m me.”…that says it all and is sad in a way.

    I’ve read parts about that visit…mostly the guitar part but that was so interesting. Love when the guy tells the bandleader that he should keep George lol. That visit is something he probably remembered the rest of his life because it was probably the last time he was treated normal in America.

    I also like the part where the girl said he looked pitiful and wanted to give him money because poor people had long hair because they couldn’t afford a haircut…

    Thanks Lisa that was a wonderful read.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes him and his sister. I never understood what happened but they did reconcile…I don’t get why Olivia stopped it…it’s not that much.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. I know. Since they reconciled… it’s no reason not to. It looks like in these cases the PR hit you take would be worse than giving the money…Thats not a human way of looking at it but I think it’s true.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for that link! John looked like an old soul even then.
    I only buy magazines for the collage references… I freely admit it. So I hope they don’t stop publishing them.

    Liked by 1 person

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