Happy Birthday, George Harrison!
And Why is there a GIANT George Harrison Sign in Benton, Illinois?
Today, February 25th, is George Harrison’s birthday. He was born in 1943 and would have been 80 this year. And here I am with a REALLY big George Harrison sign just off of Interstate 57 in Benton, Illinois. Why is there a giant Beatle in Illinois? Well, in 1963, just before the band broke it big in America, he flew across the pond to America and visited his sister and her husband who were living in Benton. George was the first Beatle in America! ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘She Loves You’ had been released in the UK and they were selling out show after show in the UK. When they got a break in the middle of September of 1963, George visited his older sister Louise, whose husband was in the coal industry and working in southern Illinois.
An interesting fact about my visit to Benton – My Dad and I got off of the interstate and drove to the sign so I could have him take my photo with this amazing sign by artist John Cerney. As we left, we decided to drive through the charming town as it was said to have some fantastic antique stores (and it REALLY does!). Just as we crossed over the bridge going over I-57 into the city limits of Benton, George’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ started playing on the satellite radio! My eyes about jumped off my face. I’ll never forget that!
If you want to read a fantastic article about the visit and what all George did and what he thought when he came over for the first time, check this out article from The Smithsonian.