- Written by James Patterson James Patterson
The 60th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. is a time to recall one of the most exciting moments in TV history.
In February 1964, Ed Sullivan showcased the Beatles on his Sunday evening program. It was rock ’n’ roll history on black-and-white TV. Music, America, and the world would never be the same.
With Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard “Ringo Starr” Starkey still touring and making new music, it is safe, and corny, to say “the beat of the Beatles” goes on. At an early-2000s McCartney concert, fans were treated to scenes from the group’s 1964 Sullivan program. It can also be seen on YouTube.
In New York City, fans can visit the Imagine Mosaic in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park. The mosaic was a gift from Italy in memory of John Lennon.
During my first trip to Liverpool, England, I visited Mendips, the childhood home of John Lennon, owned by Lennon’s aunt and uncle. The house was purchased by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, and gifted to Great Britain’s National Trust.
Mendips is open for public viewing in certain months of the year for a small fee. A custodian explains the living arrangements of the household while Lennon lived there and gives background to the photos of Lennon on the walls.
John Lennon’s bedroom at Mendips is small. Several 45-rpm records near his bed were all by U.S. performers, including Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry.
McCartney’s childhood home is known by its street address, 20 Forthlin Road. It is a red brick home built after World War II.
The custodian said McCartney’s mom died young, and when his dad learned his son dropped out of school to practice music in pool halls and pubs, he allowed the four future Beatles to practice in the house. A large piano occupies most of the small living room.
Once McCartney became famous, fans pestered his dad at the house, some camping out on the lawn. He moved his dad into a larger, more secure home. After his dad’s death, McCartney donated the Forthlin property to the National Trust. It is also open to the public for a fee.
For some, the most exciting part of the tour of 20 Forthlin Road is the time spent in McCartney’s bedroom.
“When girls enter Paul’s bedroom, they would call their girlfriends and scream, ‘I’m in Paul McCartney’s bedroom!’” the custodian explained.
For this reason, the house policy is no mobile phones in McCartney’s bedroom.
At the time of my travels to Liverpool, George Harrison’s childhood home was privately owned. Neither the owners nor the neighbors of Ringo Starr’s childhood home wanted tour buses in their vicinity.
While in Liverpool, I saw a rock performance at The Cavern Club, where the Beatles first performed. It is located below street level and is impressively atmospheric.
I went to Liverpool’s Public Library for a lesson in Scouse (rhymes with “house”), known as Liverpool English or Merseyside English. Scouse is an accent and dialect associated with Liverpool and the surrounding region. A librarian patiently spoke Scouse with me and translated Scouse terms spoken by Paul McCartney.
Based on my conversations with Liverpudlians, the City of Liverpool was for many years largely unchanged from the 1960s. Although it has changed in recent years, the city still gives me a special feeling of a time when the youthful musical talent of the Beatles changed the globe.
The songs of the Beatles, I believe, remain a powerful force for positive change in our world.
The celebration of the Beatles started 60 years ago and continues today, informed by the youthful memories of yesterday, when all our troubles seemed so far away.
James Patterson is a writer based in the Washington, D.C. area.