Following the Beatles - on foot

Potent memories of the Fab Four.

There are many Beatles tours in London and Liverpool. The writer joined one of the first.

We are leaning against the very post box where a Chelsea pensioner said to a television camera: ‘The Beatles? I love ‘em. God bless ‘em.’
Richard Jones’ Beatles walk is new this year, marking the 25th anniversary of their first US tour. Greg, 22, a major in music at the University of Southern Illinois, was born the year the group made their last live performance on the roof of 2 New Bond Street, opposite the post box.
‘Best rock and roll group EVER. They made everything in music possible. ‘
We are in a jerky time machine of a walk in Mayfair, whizzing from the scene of a John Lennon outrage here, to an important piece of Beatles litigation there. References to solicitors, accountants and merchandisers working out of smart offices far outnumber the mention of disks. A man wearing a plastic bag hovers for aural crumbs. This is an eery historical site. All the offices have changed, and there isn’t a single clue that the Fab Four were ever here, within many of our lifetimes, with a power to have top shops open specially, and a magnetism which tugged a screaming crowd from around any corner.
Yet, without a single prop, Richard Jones succeeds in conjuring more potent memories out of Abemarle Street and Savile Row than a neighbourhood of palaces.
We stand and picture John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce sweeping into Mason’s Yard (ghostly screams off) for opening night of the Indika Gallery, where he met Yoko. Greg: ‘That was Cool. No, I didn’t learn anything new, but I’m sure glad I saw that gallery.’ Richard Jones is pleased to find genuine locals in our group - that is, people from London. ‘One night most of he Beatles London fan club turned up. They kept coming back to meet people and discuss. He has read about 20 books on the group for clues and keeps finding new connections. ‘I’ve just come across a toilet associated with Lennon.’
He tests his group’s knowledge. ‘Who was the Beatle opposed to a return to live performances? Even Greg, rocking thoughtfully on his sneakers, doesn’t know. A smart clipped-moustached man who must have spent his teenage years in the Beatles-deprived 70s, murmurs his single contribution against the noise of the taxis. ‘George.’ Nobody seems to notice that Ringo is mentioned only twice, the second time outside the jewellers Aspery, which the bearded drummer likened to Woolworths’, ‘because you can see everything set out.’
Greg, flummoxed by London geography, asks if we can now see Abbey Road. I leave him painstakingly correcting Richard. ‘It was two girls who asked Brian Epstein for the My Bonny record in Liverpool, not a man. Almost positive.’

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