Beatle Me This, Beatle Me That

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Facts

* After Paul's song, "Penny Lane" became a Beatles hit, the street signs for the actual Penny Lane in Liverpool disappeared with such regularity (as they did on the real Abbey Road), that the town reverted to simply painting 'Penny Lane' on the buildings, rather than have street signs.

* "Strawberry Fields" was named for a real place, Strawberry Field, a children's home run by the Salvation Army in Liverpool. Its location was near John's childhood home. The original Victorian building was too old and was demolished in the late 1960's and some land at the back was sold off to help pay for the new buildings. It's still called "Strawberry Field" and the original walls and gates are there, and it's still a Salvation Army Children's Home. John sent Strawberry Field a large donation before his death and so Strawberry Field named one of it's buildings "Lennon Hall" Yoko still sends donations of cash.

* Though there was a woman named Eleanor Rigby in Liverpool, she was not the inspiration for the song. Paul simply made up the name. The Father McKenzie in "Eleanor Rigby," was almost called Father McCartney, when Paul first composed the lyrics. However, a search in the phone book yielded the more general name McKenzie. The song has been recorded over 200 times, with interpretations by Diana Ross and the Supremes, Paul Anka, Frankie Valli, the Four Tops, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Vanilla Fudge.

* The group's name had numerous inspirations. Stuart Sutcliffe noted that a motorcycle gang in the film, "The Wild One," was called 'The Beetles,' and John Lennon reportedly had a dream in which a man appeared "on a flaming pie," saying, "You will be Beatles with an 'a'." The band members were also influenced by the name of Buddy Holly's band, the Crickets.

* Contrary to popular belief, the title for "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was prompted by 4-year-old Julian Lennon's description of a painting he brought home from school, not the drug, LSD. John Lennon has been said to have preferred Elton John's rendition of the song, and played background guitar and backup vocals on John's version, credited as "Dr. Winston O'Boogie and his Reggae Guitars."

* Paul McCartney wrote "Hey Jude" for Julian Lennon, John's son.

* Though the Beatles were still largely unknown in the U.S. in October 1963, Ed Sullivan got his first glimpse of Beatlemania on Halloween of that year. His plane at Heathrow Airport outside London was delayed due to hordes of screaming Beatles fans welcoming the boys back from an overseas concert. When he was notified about the cause of the delay, Ed Sullivan said, "Who the hell are the Beatles?" That experience prompted him to book them on his show in 1964. (The Beatles, for their part, had not previously heard of Ed Sullivan).

* Though "The Ed Sullivan Show" was the first TV program in America to host the Beatles, (February 9, 1964), ABC and CBS shot concert footage of the band in November 1963 as Beatlemania swept England. On December 7, 1963, "The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" featured footage of Beatles fans at a concert, and on Friday, January 3, 1964, Jack Paar's show was the first to broadcast footage of them on a major U.S. show, when Paar played a clip of the Beatles performing "She Loves You." At that point Paar was not a fan, and he disparaged their haircuts on air.

* On December 17, 1963, a disc jockey at WWDC in Washington, D.C., became the first person to broadcast a Beatles record on American airwaves. James Carroll played "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which he had obtained from his stewardess girlfriend who brought the single back from Britain. Due to listener demand, it played daily, every hour. Since it hadn't been released yet in the States, Capitol initially considered court action, but instead released the record earlier than planned.

* Among the people on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" are Stuart Sutcliffe (one of the Beatles' early band members), Laurel and Hardy, Marilyn Monroe, Karl Marx, boxer Sonny Liston, Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce and Shirley Temple. Shirley had visited the Beatles in their dressing room backstage at a San Francisco concert in 1964. It is said when the Beatles requested her permission to use her image on the cover of the album, she was the only celebrity who insisted upon hearing the disc before granting permission.

* Timothy Leary and Tommy Smothers did some of the background clapping on John's song, "Give Peace a Chance," recorded in a hotel in Montreal.

* Before she was Cher, singer "Bonnie Jo Mason" recorded the novelty song, "I Love You Ringo."

* Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray (who played Bill Murray the K) had cameos in Eric Idle's spoof feature film about the Beatles, "The Rutles."

* Though she bought him his first guitar, John's Aunt Mimi discouraged him from a career in music, saying, according to John: "The guitar's all right as a hobby, but it won't earn you any money." Years later, John gave her a silver plaque with that quote engraved upon it.