Rare Video Surfaces of George Harrison’s 1963 Visit to Illinois
They were on their ascent to fame in England, but relatively unknown the September in 1963 when George Harrison of The Beatles paid a visit to a small town in Illinois. A rare video of that visit has just surfaced.
His two weeks there, starting on September 16, might have been the last carefree moments of an increasingly hectic, difficult and arguably tragic life.
The Beatles were one of the first bands I took notice of during my childhood, but even after listening to practically every album and song, I had no idea that George Harrison spent a late summer in Illinois right before he achieved super-stardom.
A Beatles video channel on YouTube dropped this short video mentioning that it's George Harrison visiting his sister in Benton, Illinois in September 1963. Her name was Louise.
This inspired a search which verified that George really did choose Illinois as his place to take a break from touring right before the Beatles became American sensations, too.
Here's an interesting side note from Beatle's Bible in regards to George's trip to Illinois in 1963. They say legend has it that George and his sister visited a local radio station in Benton, Illinois and hand-delivered the single "She Loves You" to them as it had just been released in the UK.
Smithsonian Magazine shared a complete chronology of what happened when George Harrison came to Benton, Illinois to see family. It mentions that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr vacationed in Greece while George came here. This quote from their article struck me as poignant especially considering how much it's been reported that George valued his quiet time and privacy:
His two weeks there, starting on September 16, might have been the last carefree moments of an increasingly hectic, difficult and arguably tragic life. In America, no one knew who George was or cared. He was just Louise Caldwell’s skinny little brother, a 20-year-old with a weird haircut, who said he played the guitar and sang a little, and was gaga for American cars, especially ones with tail fins.
Liverpool Legends notes that George was the first Beatle to visit the United States and this visit was just months prior to their legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The timing of this video being shared is interesting considering that The Beatles documentary by filmmaker Peter Jackson is premiering on now on Disney+.