“2013 marks the 50th anniversary of George’s visit,” Robert Rea of the Franklin County Historic Preservation Society said. “He was the first Beatle to set foot on U.S. soil.”
While the band was busting the charts in England in September of that year, members Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr had yet to find fame in the United States.
In those pre-Beatlemania days, Harrison was able to walk the streets of Benton, jam with local musicians, visit record stores and camp in the Shawnee National Forest without the hysteria that accompanied his later visits to the United States, Illinois State His-torical Society Executive Director William Furry said.
A commemoration is planned in September for the 50th anniversary of Harrison’s visit. While plans are not yet finalized, a his-torical marker will be placed in Benton during the celebration.
“It’s a little bit of American popular culture that we can preserve,” Furry said.
Other activities planned for the celebration will be announced this summer, Rea said.
Contributions toward the purchase of the “First Beatle in America” historical marker may be made to Illinois State Historical So-ciety, P.O. Box 1800, Springfield, IL 62705-1800.
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