Daytrippin' Beatles Magazine

The Latest Beatles News, Travel, Biography and Discography


The Beatles and Their Irish Heritage

The Beatles - Paul and George and John

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

by Shelley Germeaux

Fans of the Beatles know that all four lads were from Liverpool, England, but not as many are aware of the deep Irish heritage that three of them — John, Paul, and George — share. As the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, if you get misty-eyed over Ireland while singing along to “Oh Danny Boy”, you might enjoy a bit of Beatles Irish history.

Liverpool has been called the “Capital of Ireland” because an estimated three-quarters of its people have Irish roots. Irish immigrants poured into Liverpool after the 1798 rebellion as well as the Great Famine of the 1840s, greatly impacting its demographic make-up. Three-quarters of the Beatles also have Irish roots– Ringo Starr is the only Beatle with no trace of Irish background.

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Was It Just A Dream? Beatles fans who had spiritual connections with George Harrison when he died

By Shelley Germeaux

issue18Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2002 (No. 18) issue of Daytrippin’ – just a few months after George Harrison’s death. 

Psychic phenomenon – precognitive dreams, strange coincidences, and intuitive hunches about people we care for – is always an interesting topic of discussion. It usually happens with relatives and close friends, but in this case I am talking about George Harrison. A few Beatle friends have shared with me some “strange” experiences they had between the hours preceding his death on November 29, 2001 and before we heard the news on November 30. Maybe some of you had similar experiences.

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John Lennon’s lifelong obsession with Elvis Presley

lennon-elvispin-color75It’s no secret that John Lennon was a huge fan of Elvis Presley when he was a teenager. Lennon formed his first band, The Quarrymen, which would later become The Beatles, as a result of his love for Elvis Presley and rock and roll.

“Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles,” John Lennon stated matter-of-factly in a 1980 interview.

But Lennon’s teenage love for Elvis didn’t stop when he became an adult. In fact, throughout his life, even though he criticized Presley in his later years, Lennon never stopped being a fan. Just like any other passionate music fan, Lennon had a lifelong obsession for The King of Rock and Roll.

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Strawberry Field in Liverpool to open Visitor Center for Beatles fans

Strawberryfield-gate
Beatles fans will soon get to go through the red gates at Strawberry Field in Liverpool, made famous by John Lennon’s famous song. Every year, over 60,000 tourists stop by the iconic gates but were never allowed inside to visit the famous grounds. The Salvation Army plans to change that with a new visitor center anticipated to open in 2020.

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The story behind John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields in New York

imagine-mosaic

For over 30 years, Beatles fans have been gathering at Strawberry Fields in Central Park to celebrate John Lennon’s life on his birthday, October 9, and also to mourn his death on December 8.

Located across the street from the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon lived with Yoko Ono, Strawberry Fields encompasses the pathways in Central Park that John and Yoko used to stroll together over the years from 1973 until Lennon was gunned down in front of the building in 1980.

Five years after his death, on October 9, 1985, what would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday, this tear-shaped section of Central Park stretching from 71st to 74th streets along Central Park West was re-named “Strawberry Fields” after The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The famous grey and white marble Imagine mosaic, which is the centerpiece of the area, was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.

StrawberryFields-ceremony

The groundbreaking ceremony for Strawberry Fields was held on March 21, 1984 with Yoko Ono and Lennon’s sons Julian and Sean in attendance. A bronze plaque which was unveiled at the dedication ceremony lists 121 countries who endorse this Garden of Peace.

The idea for ‘Strawberry Fields’ was conceived by Yoko Ono and she “selected an ancient mosaic design found in Naples and placed the word Imagine in the center,” according to author Sara Cedar Miller. “The people of Naples were delighted, and artisans were dispatched to Strawberry Fields to inlay the Imagine mosaic medallion, faithfully copying the design Yoko had chosen.”

While most people think of the Imagine mosaic section as the major part of Strawberry Fields, there are actually 5.3 acres in total that make up the whole of the area. For the landscape design of this section of Central Park, Yoko worked with landscape architect, Bruce Kelly, to create a fitting memorial to John Lennon that was “more nature than culture.”

StrawberryFields-NewspaperAd-sm

Yoko’s letter in the NY Times on August 19, 1981

In August 1981, Ono placed letters in the New York Times and many other newspapers asking for donations from other countries to create this peace garden. Many countries sent native plants; for example, an oak tree from Great Britain, dogwoods from Monaco, tulip bulbs from the Netherlands, maples from Canada, etc. And, of course, strawberries were planted by the Central Park Conservancy.

The area is shaded by elm trees and provides many benches for visitors to relax and “imagine.” Strawberry Fields is intended as a quiet place for reflection, designated as a “quiet zone” in the Park. In exchange for a generous donation to the Central Park Conservancy, patrons can get their name inscribed on a plaque on one of the benches.

Yoko Ono still lives in the Dakota and her windows overlook the Imagine mosaic at 72nd street and Central Park West. While the word “Imagine” is recognized for Lennon’s famous song first released in 1971, it is also a concept that Ono has portrayed in her artwork long before she met Lennon. He even admitted that he got the idea for the song from her.

The song “should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song, because a lot of it, the lyric and the concept, came from Yoko,” John Lennon said in a 1980 interview, shortly before he died.

StrawberryFields-plaque

In 2017, the National Music Publishers Association announced that Ono would share songwriting credits for Lennon’s “Imagine.”

“Those days, I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution,” Lennon added, noting that the song makes direct reference to Yoko’s 1964 book, Grapefruit.

 

It was Yoko’s intention to continue the world peace sentiment that she and Lennon had initiated in 1969 which included planting an acorn in England and then sending acorns to heads of state around the world. In her 1981 letter, Ono said, “John would have been very proud that this was given to him, an island named after his song, rather than a statue or a monument….It will be nice to have the whole world in one place, one field, living and growing together in harmony.”

strawberryfields-book-large

Note:
A book called Strawberry Fields: Central Park’s Memorial to John Lennon chronicles the creation of this memorial. The book, released in 2011, was written by Sara Cedar Miller, the official photographer and historian of the Central Park Conservancy. The 95-page book is filled with gorgeous color photos as well as historical documents and black & white photos.

The Central Park Conservancy also sells souvenirs of the Imagine mosaic, including a blanket, coffee mug and jewelry.

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