Beatle Mania in Benton

Beatle Mania in Benton

BENTON, IL (KFVS) - Beatle fans far and wide gathered in Benton Saturday to honor one of the fab four.

Earlier this week Governor Pat Quinn declared Saturday "George Harrison day" statewide.

Benton unveiled a historical marker commemorating Harrison's visit to the small city in 1963.

Harrison passed away in 2001, but his sister, Louise took part in honoring "The First Beatle in America."

"To me the most important thing about today was that finally there is one of these things going to be somewhere talking about a kind and gentle musician," says Louise.

She says George once told her, 'I understand why they call it the heartland, the people here have such big hearts.'

George Harrison's two-week stay in Benton happened just months before appearing on the Ed Sullivan show, it was then he was able to walk Benton's streets unrecognized and even play with local musicians.

Many of the Beatles first recordings were played over a West Frankfort radio station.

That radio d-DJ says she still can't believe she's part of Beatle history in America.

"Just reliving what happened 50 years ago when I first met Louise is a lot of fun. it brings back a lot of memories and very nostalgic and surreal to me that I even met George," says Marcia Raubach.

Another reason Benton holds so much Beatle history, the home George stayed in during his visit was restored to its 1960s look, and converted into a bed and breakfast, which was almost demolished.

The Beatle fan behind the story says he's is thrilled to be part of today's celebration.

"I finally got to do something for The Beatles that they did for me. I got to give something back as a fan to save her former home, so that is just full circle," says Robert Bartel.

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