~ You've Really Got A Hold On Me ~

(Articles from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"George Harrison Slept Here"
Famous Beatle House in Benton Illinois

Yesterday is Here for Beatle House in Illinois
From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Tuesday February 21, 1995

Louise Harrison has called off a fund-raising effort to help save a house in Benton, Ill., where her brother, Beatle George Harrison, once stayed. Louise Harrison lived in the house in 1963. Her brother visited her there for a couple weeks shortly before gaining fame in the United States. Civic officials had joined with Louise Harrison in trying to save the house from the wrecking ball. She had proposed making it a tourist attraction and turning over proceeds to the Benton grade schools.

But on Monday, Louise Harrison said that she had lost hope of collecting enough donations by the deadline Sunday. The state bought the house last year and plans to raze it for a parking lot for a nearby state office building. The state had held up its plans to give Harrison's group time to try to raise enough money to either buy the house and move it, or buy a nearby house to swap with the state for a parking site.

Beatle House To Be Turned Into A Bed And Breakfast
From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Friday March 3, 1995
Reported by Linda Eardley

Three couples in Benton, Ill., have pooled their resources and saved the house where George slept. They plan to open a bed-and-breakfast in the blue five-bedroom frame house at 113 McCann Street. Beatle George Harrison stayed there for a couple of weeks in 1963 while visiting his sister, Louise Harrison. "The fact that George Harrison slept there just blew my mind," said Cindy Rice, one of the investors.

The house had been in jeopardy since the state bought it late last year, planning to tear it down to make a parking lot for a nearby office building. Avid Beatles fans heard about the plan, and soon Louise Harrison, who now lives in Florida, and city officials were appealing to the state to spare the house so it could be used for a tourist attraction. The state insisted it needed the parking space, but offered two options: The state would give the house to anyone who would move it to another site. The state would swap the Harrison house for a brick house next door and tear down the brick house for the parking lot.

On Thursday, Rice's group signed an agreement to buy the brick house. "We're all Beatles fans, but I wouldn't say we're fanatics," said Rice, 38. "We're naturally in it for the investment and to preserve it tastefully and not exploit it." She said the venture would probably start out as a small catering business, with inside dining in the living room and dining room. Some people have offered to donate Beatles memorabilia.

Louise Harrison, who coincidentally is moving back to Benton, said she would not be directly involved in the house. But, she added, "when I go to Beatles conventions, I'll tell people about it and tell them to be sure and stop." Rice's partners are her husband, Scott Rice; Jim and Daryl Chady, friends of Louise Harrison; and Connie and Dorothy Schultz, who live across the street from the house.

And what will they name the house? Cindy Rice says she likes the suggestion of a friend: Hard Day's Night Bed and Breakfast.

It Was 30 Years Ago Today That
The Beatles Came To Busch Stadium To Play

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Wednesday August 21, 1996
Reported by Dave Dorr

Where were you on Aug. 21, 1966? If you were among the 23,143 soaked spectators at Busch Stadium screaming with joy for the Beatles, you no doubt can still remember much of what occurred on that rainy Sunday night.

The appearance here by the Beatles was part of the group's third tour in the United States. St. Louis was the 10th of 14 cities in which they performed. Because of light rain, the Beatles were moved up in the program at the 3-month-old stadium, then known as Busch Memorial Stadium, becoming the third of five acts.

They did 11 songs in 30 minutes and were guaranteed $ 75,000, according to Dick Esser, whose St. Louis ticket agency handled ticket sales. The event was promoted by Regal Sports Inc. The cost of an evening with George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr was a pittance by today's concert standards. Tickets were scaled at $ 4.50, $ 5 and $ 5.50.

The Beatles flew to St. Louis from Cincinnati by chartered jet and were taken to the stadium in limousines. One driver forgot to lock the doors of his car after the Beatles emerged and somebody stole the rear mats. After the show, the Beatles left in two police cars.

Lorraine Bremler, 38, did not attend the Beatles concert but is as much a fan as Richman. She owns Beatles For Sale, a store she opened 10 months ago in Union Station. There, you can find Beatles memorabilia and products such as T-shirts, silk boxer shorts, jewelry, stamps from other nations and even pieces of sheets from beds the Beatles slept on at a Detroit hotel during their 1966 tour. Locating Beatles items has turned into a "full-time job," Bremler says. "I've got many sources. A lot of the stuff comes from flea markets and estate sales. Everybody still loves the Beatles."

As part of today's events at Union Station marking the 30-year anniversary of the Beatles' concert here, George Harrison's sister, Louise Harrison, will appear at Beatles For Sale from 2-5 p.m. and at KSHE's Real Rock Restaurant and Concert Club from 5-7.

There will be a Beatles memorabilia exhibit at both locations. A trivia contest and raffle of a commemorative plaque will take place at the restaurant. Proceeds from the raffle will go to Lou Harrison's environmental charity, DROP IN (Determined to Restore Our Planet).

George Harrison Slept Here
From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Thursday May 8, 1997
Reported by Andrew Bedell

To pull up at the curb and look at the outside of 113 McCann, you wouldn't think it was particularly interesting. Just a tidy 1940s-style bungalow set on a whole street of tidy 1940s-style bungalows. But cross the threshold and you've fallen back to 1963, into a home where someone is indulging a major Beatles fixation.

Three Benton couples got together and bought Louise Harrison Caldwell's former home in 1995, after Beatles historian and fan Robert Bartel guided an all-out effort to save it from certain demolition.

Today, the house where the "Quiet Beatle" slept is A Hard Days Nite B&B, operated by the investors: Cindy and Scott Rice, Daryl and Jim Chady and Connie and Dorothy Schultz.

Connie Schultz, who lives across the street from the house with his wife, Dorothy, says the rehab of the house has taken a "good part of two years." Virtually everything in the home is circa 1963: the furniture, the kitchen, the light fixtures, a virtually new console hi-fi.

Even without all the Beatles memorabilia, you could experience a major flashback to your parents' or grandparents' Kennedy-era decor. A visitor half expects meat loaf, canned peas and a Jell-O mold to magically appear on the kitchen table.

It could be an interesting place to stay, for the kitschy aspect alone, but most people visit to soak up the George Harrison/Beatles aura. Sleep in the room where George slept, watch TV in the living room where George watched his favorite show, "Hootenanny." You can even sit on the couch where George reportedly composed the melody to "Daytripper."

Many items from Bob Bartel's extensive mop-top collection decorate the home, including autographed pictures, records, posters, books and Beatleboots. Heady stuff for Beatles fans.

The four bedrooms all have private, new baths that rival those found in nicer hotels. There's even a TV with a VCR in each room.

"We've had people from all over stay here," says Schultz. "Our first guests were one of those Beatles look-alike bands." The rates are what you would pay in other B&Bs, typically $ 60 to $ 65 a night, with the continental breakfast.

A Hard Days Nite B&B is approximately a two-hour drive from St. Louis. Take Interstate 64 east to Interstate 57 south near Mt. Vernon, Ill. The Benton exit is approximately 15 miles south on Interstate 57. If you need directions once in Benton, Connie warns that people don't know the B&B as A Hard Days Nite. He says, "ask for the Beatles house." Call (618) 438-2328 for more information.

- Beatle boots -- we loved them, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Before Fab
From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Thursday May 8, 1997
Reported by Andrew Bedell

In the quiet of September 1963, Beatle George Harrison visited his sister in Southern Illinois, where a teen-age DJ first put needle to Beatles vinyl -- months before the group's milestone "Ed Sullivan" gig.

Now a local fan wants history to remember Harrison's musical recom mission -- and the time.

Maybe you're old enough to remember -- or surely you've at least seen film of the historic event: On Feb. 7, 1964, a jet touched down at Kennedy Airport in New York, chauffeuring in an event that would change music -- some say Western culture -- forever.

The Beatles arrived in the United States for the very first time. The hysterical mob at the airport was only the beginning. On Feb. 9, and again on Feb. 16, more than 70 million people tuned into the now-legendary broadcasts of the "Ed Sullivan Show" and heard "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Girls screamed, they cried, they fainted. Beatlemania had made it to the United States.

It's time to rewrite popular history. The trip to New York was not exactly the first time the Beatles were in America, and the "Ed Sullivan Show" was not the first place their music was played here. Beatles historian and collector Bob Bartel of Springfield, Ill., is setting the record straight, and helping preserve what he and other Beatles fans believe is an important piece of history. He's made a documentary telling the real story.

In September 1963, while the rest of the Beatles took a holiday in Europe, George Harrison, then 20, and his brother, Peter, visited the United States. Ostensibly on a recon mission to test the market before the group cemented plans to finally play here.

George and Peter were actually here to see their sister. Their destination: Benton, Ill., a small mining community in Southern Illinois. Louise Harrison Caldwell moved there early in 1963 with her husband, a mining engineer.

Bartel's film, "A Beatle in Benton," which won honorable mention at the recent Berkeley Film Festival in California, is a straightforward documentary in which the director interviews many of the folks who encountered Harrison during his stay in the area. It consists mostly of casual chats with family members, musicians, radio DJs and others who helped make local history.

"George spent 18 days in Benton," says Bartel, a middle-aged guy who wears tinted glasses and drives a cab. "While he was there, he played at a VFW dance with a local band, he bought a guitar, he went camping with the family." Just a normal visit to your older sister, right?

"Remember, at this time the Beatles were huge in England, and early that summer, George's mom sent Lou the Beatles' latest single, 'From Me to You,' Bartel explains. "And Lou acted as the Beatles advance person, taking their record to local stations to get it played." She decided to take it to WFRX-AM, in West Frankfort, Ill.

WFRX was a typical middle-of-the-road station, but it did have a show that played youth-oriented music. The disc jockey of the show, Marcia Raubach, was just a high-school girl (her father owned the station). So, in June 1963, for the very first time anywhere in the United States, Marcia cued up the Beatles, and "From Me to You" went over the air in Southern Illinois. Bartel believes Marcia should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, right alongside Murray the K.

When George arrived in Benton three months later, it was obvious that his sister's advance work had paid off. Brother and sister hitchhiked to WFRX with another new single for the playlist, "She Loves You."

"So here you have this small radio station in Southern Illinois brea king the Beatles in the U.S. months before anybody else," says Bartel. "Lou had also arranged for George to play with a local band, the Four Vests, so he'd have some musicians to hang out with," Bartel adds. "She even gave the band some Beatles records so they could learn the music before George arrived."

The Four Vests -- plus George Harrison -- played a gig in Eldorado, Ill., at the VFW Hall. "The band played their normal first set, popular stuff like the Ventures, and then took a break," Bartel says. "They came back for the second set and introduced George as the 'Elvis of England.' They said people's mouths dropped open."

Harrison even bought a guitar at the music store in nearby Fenton -- his famed Rickenbacher hollow-body. (Please note: This reporter did not have accurate information in preparing this portion of his interesting report. The instrument was a "solid-body Rickenbacker" as described in the article You Won't See Me

Bartel, 48, is a life-long Beatles fan. He says he had always known the significance of the connection with George and Benton, Ill., but never got directly involved until 1994. "I drove down to Benton to buy the new CD, 'Live at the BBC,' the day it was released as a gift for my wife, Janice. When I was down there, I thought, 'I wonder where Louise Harrison lived?'''

Bartel started digging -- and it didn't take him too long to find what he was looking for. Bartel is trained as a private investigator. "At first, no one seemed to remember Louise Harrison. But then I looked in a directory from 1963 and found a Louise Caldwell," Bartel says. "So I went over to 113 McCann."

Louise Harrison Caldwell and her husband had sold the house some years before. When Bartel found it, the bungelow was in disrepair and was slated to be torn down by the state to make way for a parking lot for the Mine Rescue Unit. Bartel made some calls to state officials and discovered that the house should have already been demolished. Frantically, he made more calls and got a stay of execution. He wanted to save the home.

He called Louise Harrison, now living in Florida, for help. She came to Benton and they began an all-out effort to save the home. Months later, after much agonizing and legal wrangling, Bartel and his band of Beatles preservationists succeeded. A group of local investors bought the home and turned it into A Hard Days Nite B&B.

Bartel's belief in the historical significance of George's stay in Benton, and of Louise's former home, is profound. That's why he filmed a documentary on the subject. The 120-minute video, "A Beatle in Benton," tells the whole story, in depth. The video is in the archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

"Benton is really the birthplace of the Beatles in America," Bartel emphasizes. "For me, the essence is that (I) got to do something to preserve history."