If you’re among the esteemed generation of Beatles fans who actually lived thru the British Invasion, you may recall how the press, the media, the record label and even Ed Sullivan proclaimed that the Beatles Feb. 1964 trip to America was the first time “The Fabs” had set foot on American soil! Not completely true, my fab friends…Didja know that nearly 5 months earlier in Sept. 1963, the quiet Beatles George, made a very quite trip the U. S. A. To visit his sister Louise who lived in a little town in Benton Illinois.
At this point in time “From Me To You” was the number one record in the U.K. and Beatles Mania had caught fire, But here in the U.S. the band was barely a blip on anyone’s Radar! So, George and his brother Peter hoped a flight to Benton for a three-week stay with their sister to enjoy some R&R, sightseeing, gardening and music. George and his siblings drove all over Southern Illinois including camping two nights in the Shawnee National forest! But it was in nearby Mt. Vernon where Beatles history is made, when Louise takes her brothers to a popular record store, where George finds a new record by James Ray, the title of the song is “Got my mind set on you” Sound familiar? After their road trip, returning to Louise’s home in Benton, Louise takes George to see a local band playing at the VFW town hall, the band was called “The Four Vests, Louise introduced her brother to the bands leader Gabe McCarty. Remember, George was completely unknown, but his sister called him “The English Elvis! George and Gabe hit it off immediately, as soon as George sat in with The Four Vests! Both men were huge fans of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis etc. so by day they hung out talked music and by night they Jammed. It was Gabe who helped George find his coveted Rickenbacker electric that can be heard on several Beatles tracks and on permanent display in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yep, George bought it on a day trip to Mt. Vernon with Gabe.
There you have it, with all due respect to what we think we heard, George Harrison was making Beatle history in America 5 months prior to John, Paul and Ringo!
Yeah, Yeah, YEAH…