Fifty years ago, a Beatle came to Benton, and now the town is commemorating that visit. On Saturday (Sept. 21), a historical marker will be unveiled near the Franklin County Courthouse, marking George Harrison’s 1963 trip to the town. Harrison came to visit his sister, Louise Harrison, whose husband was a coal miner at Freeman Coal Co. in West Frankfort.
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Jim Kirkpatrick, author of Before He Was Fab about Harrison’s visit, says the trip came at an important time for the Beatles, who were on the top of the charts in the United Kingdom, but virtually unknown in the U.S. “That was the last time he was able to walk in the United States kind of free and easy, without any concerns or mobs of people coming up to him,” Kirkpatrick said.
Harrison’s visit included sitting in with a local band and shopping at local record stores. Kirkpatrick says one of his purchases was a record by R&B artist James Ray called “Got My Mind Set on You”. Harrison’s cover of that song would become a No. 1 hit in 1987. The ceremony will include an appearance by Louise Harrison, as well as live music, souvenirs, and memorabilia.