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Destination: LIVERPOOL, England
Liverpool rediscovers the Beatles
By ERIK FLOREN -- Sun Media
YOUTHFUL BEATLES perform at the Cavern Club, top.Paul
McCartney at the legendary venue in 1999. The Fab Four
during their Sergeant Pepper's era.
-- SUN file photos
LIVERPOOL -- After a period of apathy, this northern
English city -- famous for its cynicism -- has finally
jumped on the Beatle bandwagon in a big way.
Now it seems as though there's a statue or image of John
Lennon on every street corner. Liverpool's airport has been
renamed in his honour. And Paul McCartney's boyhood home
has become a national treasure.
Buoyant melodies and droll wit helped launch the quartet
from four working-class Liverpudlians into global icons
that shaped a generation. Today, walking tours, bicycle
tours, auto tours and bus tours allow devoted fans to
retrace the early footsteps of the Fab Four.
And why not? The Beatles are a huge tourist magnet.
"One million visitors come to Liverpool a year just
because of the Beatles," says Jonathan Schofield, a Blue
Badge Guide and author.
Some "weep profusely" in the Cavern Club, the basement
venue the Beatles first played. Others cry entering the
Beatles Story -- an exhibition on Albert Dock with amazing
reconstructions of the Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road Studio
and 16 other features.
Many coming to this mop-top mecca simply want to connect
with the spirit of Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and
Ringo Starr. And that spirit remains very much alive.
Indeed, when it comes to historical landmarks, there's
something for even the most fanatical of fans. From houses
the Beatles were born in, lived in or even just visited --
to the spot where Lennon's mom was killed crossing the
road, run over by an off-duty policeman.
You can stroll Penny Lane (allegedly named after a local
slave merchant) or wander Strawberry Field, both made
famous by Lennon-McCartney songs. When I was there
recently, flowers still hung in the strawberry-hued wrought-
iron gates for Harrison, who died in December.
Why not tour the house on 20 Forthlin Rd. that actually
witnessed the birth of Beatlemania? McCartney's teenage
home, where he and Lennon wrote some of the early Beatles
hits, was purchased by the British government and restored.
The walls of Paul's bedroom are covered with scribbled
song lyrics. The McCartneys lived here from 1955 to 1964
until screaming fans drove them away.
Take a sentimental saunter down Mathew St. to the Cavern
Club where a cottage industry of clones, aka the John
Lennon Bar, Abbey Road Pub, and Beatles Shop (open "Eight
days a Week") has sprung up.
Hop aboard the Magical Mystery Tour and see Liverpool
from a bus like the one in the 1968 film.
Next year you'll be able to book into the Hard Day's
Night Hotel. The 120-bedroom, four-star hotel is scheduled
to welcome fans of the Fab Four with Beatle-themed rooms in
Liverpool's city centre.
Not to miss this summer, Aug. 22-27, is International
Beatle Week -- Liverpool's annual orgy of Beatlemania,
complete with hundreds of tribute bands.
Here are some sites worth a look for Beatle fans in
St Peter's Church Hall in Woolton, where John Lennon made
his stage debut, played with his band the Quarrymen and met
Paul McCartney on July 6, 1957.
Jacaranda, 23 Slater St. The Beatles used to play,
rehearse and hang out here. Recently restored.
Liverpool Institute, Mount St., the school Paul and
Liverpool College of Art, Hope St. John attended this
college where he met both Cynthia Powell and Stuart
Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Myrtle St. Ringo was
sickly as a youngster and spent months here.
Penny Lane, off Smithdown Rd. Nearby is the barber shop,
the fish and chip shop and the bank noted in the song.
Strawberry Field, Beaconsfield Field Rd. The old
Salvation Army children's home where John would play as
Real fanatics can check out Madryn St., Princes Park, the
birthplace of Ringo Starr; Walton General Hospital, Rice
Lane, Walton, the birthplace of Paul McCartney or 12 Arnold
Grove, Wavertree, the birthplace of George Harrison.