SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed September 21 as "George Harrison Day" in Illinois.
The honor commemorates the late musical star's two-week stay in southern Illinois 50 years ago.
On September 21, there will be a historical marker dedication in Benton that will unveil a permanent reminder of Harrison's southern Illinois activities as "The First Beatle in America."
"Many icons through history have Illinois connections, and we are recognizing one more with this proclamation," Governor Quinn said. "George Harrison helped define a generation, and we encourage visitors to follow his footsteps throughout southern Illinois."
The historical marker dedication will be hosted by the Franklin County Historic Preservation Society and the Illinois State Historical Society. It will be held in Benton's Capitol Park on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. The marker will describe the regional exploits of a young British musician just months before he and his partners exploded into worldwide fame that is as strong today as it was in 1963.
Traveling with his older brother Peter, Harrison came to southern Illinois to visit their sister, Louise Harrison Caldwell, in the early 60s.
For two weeks in 1963, Harrison stayed at his sister's home in Benton.
Harrison played with several local musicians; he performed with a group at the Eldorado VFW Hall; he bought a guitar in Mount Vernon; he sang "Happy Birthday" at a bocce ball club in Benton, and went camping in the Garden of the Gods and other Shawnee National Forest locations, according to the Governor's office.
According to a news release from the Governor, many of The Beatles' first recordings were played over a West Frankfort radio station and Harrison was interviewed by a local teenager, Marcia Schafer, the first interview by a Beatle in America.
Harrison was known for writing such classic songs as "Taxman," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here Comes the Sun," and "Something."