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  • "2006 Magical History Tour Report"
    By Chris Antonucci

    We flew out of JFK airport via London for our first stop at Heathrow Airport, to await our connecting flight to Amsterdam. Many of us were first-timers, while others were returning for the magic. The magic started early for two of our travelers, Brad & Mary, who met Yoko at the Dakota before the tour!

          Upon landing in the Netherlands, we were greeted by Rene Van Haarlem of Beatles Unlimited. One of the most knowledgeable Beatle historians in the world, Rene was our Tour Guide for the entire trip in Amsterdam. We checked into our hotel, The NH City North Hotel, near Amsterdam's Central Station. Before we knew it, we were on our way to our first Beatles tour site: The Doelen Hotel where the Beatles stayed in June of 1964. This was the first time one of our tour groups got inside, and we got to lookat the room that The Beatles stayed in at the time. It's a beautiful old hotel that has many paintings of Rembrandt inside. After taking numerous pictures we were escorted to the back of the hotel where a replica of the Canal boat that The Beatles took their ride in when the arrived in Holland in 1964. The boat was waiting to take us on the same exact route taken by John, Paul, George & Jimmy. Jimmy? Yes, at that time in 1964, Ringo Starr was not there with John, Paul & George because of illness and he was replaced temporarily by Jimmy Nicol -a London studio drummer.

          The canal boat trip was relaxing and informative, as Rene described the scene with many rare pictures of The Beatles. He described how all the fans who were crowded along the canal & bridges were waving to The Beatles as they passed. It was easy to imagine ourselves in that era. After a while our boat trip became a Beatles sing-along when Jon Ferris from British Mania took out his guitar and began to play for us. We all sounded so good! We headed back in the direction of the Doelen Hotel, got off the boat and returned our hotel.

          On the next day of our tour in Amsterdam we traveled to the outskirts of the city where the windmills still pump water out of the canals. With so many things for a tourist to do, it was hard to get us to assemble for a group shot, but some of us were able to "come together" in front of the windmills for the camera.

          We stopped to buy souvenirs and watch where wooden shoes are still made at a small shop.

          After shopping the tour continued on to the town of Blokker were the Beatles played live in 1964. Two performances were done there because the city of Amsterdam would not allow them to play there. Our group visited the food warehouse they played in, which had been converted into a concert hall just for The Beatles. We saw the room they used as a dressing room and walked through the entire building. We were given several copies of original pictures taken at the concert.

          After this memorable visit, we went across the road to the "Giant Record Player" a city-sanctioned monument to The Beatles commemorating when they performed there. Many pictures were taken by our group while standing in front of it. Rene couldn't resist the photo opportunity.

          Continuing the tour, Rene took us to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, where a famous picture of the Beatles was taken in August of 1960. The famous picture included Paul, George, Pete Best and Stu Sutcliff, along with Alan Williams, their manager at the time. It was taken in front of the cemetery entrance that reads "Their Name Liveth Forever More."

          The final Beatles related stop was Bergman Music Shop in Arnham where John Lennon stole a harmonica that he later used on "Love Me Do." The streets were filled with locals & tourists enjoying a beautiful day. We had lunch before heading back to Amsterdam.

          When we arrived back in Amsterdam the next stop on the tour was to the magnificent Concertgebouw Hall, where Paul McCartney played live with Wings in 1972. He used its name in the song "Rock Show" on the "Venus & Mars" album in 1975. We were taken on an extensive tour of the hall and shown all the rooms Paul was in at the time of his concert in `72. An orchestra was rehearsing in the Hall while we were there, and we got to listen for a while.

          That evening was very special indeed, as we got to spend a few hours inside the John & Yoko suite at The Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. This was where they had their famous week-long Bed-In in 1969. John & Yoko invited the press to come inside the room and ask as many questions of them as they wished. Our recreation featured BritishMania's Jon Ferris & his wife Lisa dressed as John & Yoko. Needless to say, many photos were taken and songs were sung while enjoying the evening. Rene Van Haarlem spent time answering many questions and discussing The Beatles while we were there. A great night for one and all!

          We checked out of our hotel in Holland, and soon found ourselves in London checking into The Kensington Park Thistle, a fine hotel in a wonderful neighborhood. We got ready for our London Beatles walking tour.

          London's Richard Porter began our tour with The Empress Gate apartment where John Lennon & Cynthia lived in after Julian was born. We walked to the Leister Square Station where Paul McCartney played in front of, at the end of the film "Give My Regards to Broad Street." From there we saw The Hippodrome Theatre where "Broad Street" had its world premiere theatrical debut in 1984. The Saville
    Theatre, now The Odeon, was next. It was here that Jimi Hendrix performed "Sgt. Pepper" live with Paul in the audience the weekend after its release in June 1967. Also, the film "The Concert for Bangaladesh" had its world debut here in 1972. The MPL offices were seen next at 1 Soho Square.

          It was one Beatleful sight after another. Trident Studios at17 Annes Ct. was where "Hey Jude" was recorded in 1968. Also, the late Billy Preston & Nicky Hopkins recorded there in the 1970`s. We saw Raymond's Bar (from the live scene in "Magical Mystery Tour")
    where The Bonzo Dog Band sang "Death Cab for Cutie" in 1967. We passed by the gentlemen's toilet That John Lennon stood in front of in the 1965 BBC-TV show "Not Only, But Also" with Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. Apparently, this was the first time John wore his glasses as a Beatle in public! Carnaby Street in Soho was a quick walk nearby, so we took a look. The London Palladium BBC-TV show "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" was where The Beatles performed before a national audience for the first time in Oct. 1963. The phrase "Beatlemania" was reputedly coined after this historic show. The Bag-0-Nails club was where Paul McCartney & Linda Eastman met each other for the first time in 1967 while Georgie Fame was onstage.

          Next it was on to Apple Studios on 3 Saville Row, home of The Beatles' offices from 1968-1976. The famous 1969 Beatles Rooftop concert was performed atop this building on Jan. 30th.

          After Apple, we came upon Piccadilly Circus with two famous theaters there. First, the Prince of Wales Theatre, where The Royal Command Performance was held in 1963 with Queen Elizabeth in attendance. John Lennon's famous "Rattle Your Jewelry" quote was spoken that night. Second, the London Pavilion Theatre where all of the Beatles Films had their world debuts: A Hard Day's Night, Help, Yellow
    Submarine & Let It Be. This wrapped up our first night in London.

          Day two in London began with the trip to Abbey Road Studios and the famous crossing from the Abbey Road album 1969. Almost all of the Beatles songs were recorded in these studios from 1962-1969. Traffic is heavy on this famous street so you had to be careful while crossing to get a photo. Paul McCartney has a house at #7 Cavendish Avenue around the corner. The week before we arrived, Heather was locked out of the house when she arrived to pick up Beatrice, their daughter. Paul called the police after her guard climbed over the gate to get inside.

          Paul McCartney also lived at the next stop on our tour, #57 Wimpole Street in London where he & Jane Asher lived from 1964-1966. Paul wrote "Yesterday," "Yellow Submarine" & "I Want to Hold Your Hand" while there. The Apple Boutique at #94 Baker Street was where The Beatles sold clothes & jewelry from 1967-1968.

          Ringo Starr lived at #34 Montague Square in the basement apt. This was where Paul wrote "Eleanor Rigby" one day when he was visiting. John & Yoko also took the famous nude "Two Virgins" photo in this flat in 1968.

          Marylebone Registry Office is where Paul McCartney & Linda held their Wedding in 1969. Also, Ringo Starr & Barbara had their wedding there in 1981. Marylebone Rail Station was where all of the early scenes in the movie "A Hard Day's Night" were filmed in 1964. Next to the station is Boston Place, where the opening sequence of "A Hard Day's Night" was filmed as the Beatles were being chased by the fans down the street.

          The Hammersmith Odeon, now The London Apollo, was the location of The Beatles Christmas Show held in Dec. 1963. The back of the theatre has the famous staircase the Beatles ran down at the start of the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence in "AHDN.

          Also, Paul McCartney & friends played live at The Concert for Kampuchea here in 1979.

          Chiswick Gardens is the beautiful park where The Beatles filmed two videos in 1966, "Paperback Writer" & "Rain." Scenes of these videos were filmed in the trees & green houses of these gardens.

          The City Barge is a pub where a scene from "Help" was filmed in 1965. This is the scene where Ringo is trapped in the basement with a tiger, and where stunt doubles of the Beatles jumped through the front windows of the pub.

          Across the river on the other side of the City Barge is where Ringo Starr was filmed with a boy walking along the path in "A Hard Day's Night." The instrumental of "This Boy" was also known as "Ringo's Theme," and it was shot right here at the Thames Riverbank.

          Ailsa Avenue is the location of the four houses The Beatles walk into together in "Help." The addresses were # 5, 7, 9 & 11. Down the street in the middle of the road is where one of the characters from the film peeps out from a man-hole cover during the song "You've got To Hide Your Love Away."

          Close by to Ailsa Avenue is The Turk's Head Pub where Ringo Starr played Darts in a scene from "A Hard Day's Night." Our group stopped in to have a drink.

          Twickenham Film Studios was where many scenes from "A Hard Day's Night" & "Help" were filmed in 1964 & 1965. These studios were also where The Beatles filmed "Let It Be" during the first 2 weeks of 1969. This was the last stop on our London Beatles Leg of our MMT 2006. We In between, we saw many more sites too numerous to mention.

          That evening, the original and greatest Hard Rock Café in London was the location of our private annual "Twist & Shout" party. First, we went downstairs to The Vault where all the rarest Rock Memorabilia is kept. We got to see John Lennon's army jacket that he wore at the 1972 Madison Square Garden concert. All of the members of our group got to wear the jacket. Pictures were taken of us as we took turns trying it on. Also, many guitars owned by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton & Stevie Ray Vaughan were on display. Afterwards, we shopped and dined and drank while tour host Danny Levine was our DJ and MC. Assisted by your tour report author, Chris Antonucci, Beatles classics were played all night while everyone danced. Thanks to Dave Carrow for supplying party favors, toy guitars and prizes! This ended a great day in London for the Magical History Tour.

          The Tour rolled on to George Harrison's home, Friar Park, in the lovely town of Henley-on-Thames. We drove up to the entrance of Friar Park after watching some amazing George Harrison video clips on the bus. All of the members in our tour group were very humbled and touched to be at George's home. We paid our respects at the gate house where many photos were taken. We each took a personal moment to think of the "Quiet Beatle," George Harrison. Emotional & magical can best describe the feelings all of us had that morning. A beautiful little town that was home to one of the best neighbors anyone could have had. . . so said many locals of the town.

          It was hard to leave "Crackerbox Palace," but our journey to Liverpool beckoned. We checked into The Adelphi Hotel and took a quick look around the city as it prepared for the masses of Beatle fans & bands that were coming to invade the city.

          The first night of Beatle week in Liverpool was very exciting because some marvelous Beatle cover bands played at The Cavern Club. Bands were: from Chile - The Brits, Australia - Mainstreet, Italy - Sir Frankie Crisp & the Friars, plus Karl Lornie's McCartney Tribute Band finished the evening at 2am.

          Many of us visited John and Paul's childhood homes on Friday.

          John Lennon's boyhood home called Mendips is located at #251 Menlove Ave. The house was built in 1933 and is now a national Trust home open to the public for tours. Colin & Sylvia are the custodians of this famous house. It was opened to the public in 2002 and has been completely restored to its original state as when John lived there with his Aunt Mimi & Uncle George.

          You go in the house from the back kitchen and are taken through downstairs rooms. They include: The Morning Room where John Would listen to the radio, The Lounge where John wrote poetry & read, The Dining Room where John would paint sometimes and of course enjoy meals prepared by his Aunt Mimi. Making our way upstairs we enter John's bedroom which is as it was when he was a teenager in the 1950's. Books of poetry, an old guitar, pictures and a drawing made by John is on the wall. Also, a radio played rock music that was wired down to the morning room by John himself.

          John Lennon lived in this house from 1945 to 1963, nearly half of his life.

          Paul McCartney's boyhood home is located in Alerton at #20 Forthlin Rd. Paul lived here with his family from 1955 to 1964. Paul and his brother Michael, along with his mother Mary (until her death) and his father James, lived in this house together. You enter the house going into the Living room where it is furnished as it was in the 1950's. Entering this room you see many photos taken by Michael, who was a photographer. A piano in the corner was played by James McCartney, who was a Jazz musician. A picture on the wall near the fireplace is of Paul & John playing guitars while writing a Beatles song! Going through the Dining Room you see more great photos of Paul taken by Michael in the early years.

          While there, the custodian John told us to look thru the back window to see the backyard which is the view that is seen on Paul McCartney's last CD "Chaos & Creation In The Backyard." The kitchen it has its original sink & floor tiles. While in the kitchen, two fans who were from Sweden got down on their knees and kissed the floor!

          Outside in the backyard is a wash-line and deckchair on a small area of grass. This is where a photo of Paul was taken of him climbing up the outside drainpipe to get inside an upstairs window. Back in the Hallway leading upstairs is a picture of Paul playing drums in the front doorway. Upstairs are Paul & Mike's Bedrooms. Paul had the Front Room which is actually smaller that John Lennon's! Painted in yellow maize, it is furnished with only a bed, table & chair. On the wall are two great pictures of Paul reading the newspaper while sitting in a chair. Paul would also dress for many Beatles gigs inside this room.

          Friday evening at the Liverpool Empire was the first in a string of incredible nights of fantastic music. "The Bootleg Beatles" (England's original cast of "Beatlemania") performed an evening of spot-on Beatles sets with the help of additional musicians onstage. Horn & string players added that Beatle magic touch to many songs they performed. The 2-hour /3-set performance left us breathless. Thanks to Danny and his relationship with Cavern City Tours, everyone in our tour group had VIP seats in the first rows. Danny led our group to stand up and cheer many times during the evening.

          Saturday started off with the annual Liverpool auction hosted by the Beatles Shop. Collectors within our group and from other countries left with some tremendous articles of memorabilia including rare records, photos, autographs and much more. Everyone also got a souvenir catalogue.

          The afternoon continued on a high note when Gerry & the Pacemakers performed live outdoors at The Pier Head stage at noon. "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey," "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," "You'll Never Walk Alone" & "How Do You Do It?" got the crowd singing along with these classic songs.

          Later in the afternoon, many of our tour group headed off to the home of Pete Best, the Casbah Coffee Club. 8 Haymans Green was the house where The Beatles played together for the first time as a band. The entrance at the back of the house begins with the Aztec room. This room was hand painted by John Lennon in an Aztec motif on the ceiling. This room is now adorned with many photographs & descriptions of the early years of Pete Best & The Beatles 1959-1962. The next room is very special because Paul McCartney painted the ceiling of this room in a rainbow. John, George, Paul & Pete Best played together many times in the last room, The Spider Room, so named because of the spider web that is painted on the back wall. The Beatles played live in this room for the members of the club. Our own "Charlie Guitar" (Chuck Lore) played for us in The Spider Room while we were there. Beatles instrumentals filled the air in the Casbah while we looked around and dreamed of the Savage Young Beatles.

          Saturday night at The Liverpool Empire featured a jaw-dropping evening of music, featuring Donovan, Tony Sheridan & the Quarrymen. The Quarrymen included the original members of the band who played with John, Paul & George in 1959. Songs they performed included "In Spite of All the Danger," "That'll be The Day" and other rock & skiffle gems.

          Tony Sheridan was next to play live in a trio with guitar, bass & drums. Tony Sheridan, who the Beatles backed up on their first single, "My Bonnie" & "When the Saints Come Marching In" in Germany circa 1961. Some of the songs he played were "My Bonnie," "Yesterday" & "All Right Now."

          Donovan was last to play that evening and he delivered a performance nobody will ever forget. His unbelievable set of classic songs included "Mellow Yellow," "Hurdy Gurdy Man" & "Yellow Submarine." Donovan told us stories of himself with The Beatles in India in 1968, along with one about him & Paul McCartney together on a Sunday morning in London. This was my personal highlight of The Beatle week in Liverpool for me. Donovan played live acoustic guitar along with a bassist & drummer.

          Our tour band and new friends, "BritishMania," played live at The Cavern Club at 1am. They received a wild welcome from the fans as they took the stage to perform for the first time in Liverpool. Songs they sang included "Some Other Guy," "Lucille," "Kansas City" & "Hippy, Hippy Shake" and many others. They got the crowd to sing along with every song. BritishMania are: Jon Ferris as John Lennon, Alex Wozniuk as George Harrison, Alex Smith as Paul McCartney, and Mike Naimoli as Ringo Starr. They are a solid East Coast Beatles cover band with over 25 years experience as musicians.

          Sunday was what many Beatles fans wait every year for: the annual Mersey Beatles Convention at the Adelphi Hotel, one of the highlights of Beatles Week. Dealers from around the world come to sell everything related to The Beatles. Anything collectable on John, Paul, George & Ringo can be found here at the convention. Chances are that if you cannot find what you are searching for here, it does not exist! Many items range from records, memorabilia, books, CD's, DVD's and lots more. It's fun to walk through the lobby just to see all of the Beatles goodies in one place at one time. I personally found many items I had been looking for years at this convention. Other events of the day included guest speakers such as Mark Lewisohn, Pete Best and Donovan (who also did signings) as well as Allan Williams and Ken Brown. Videos were also shown including Beatles Cartoons, Paul McCartney in Russia 2003, and the NME Poll Winners Concert footage from 1964, plus a mix of world premieres of rare outtakes of The Beatles & Solo Years. Oh yes, need I mention that all of the best bands also play throughout the convention?!!

          Monday was a blur as about half a million people descended on the city. There were numerous stages set up throughout the streets and near the ports where fans could enjoy live music every where, every minute of the day. It was the Mathew Street Music Festival, and although most of our group spent their time at one of the stages where Beatle tribute bands played, it was hard not to hear Beatles music on every side street and in every pub. The music was marvelous, and it seemed to go on from early in the day until the next day.

          On Tuesday, we boarded the yellow Magical Mystery Tour Bus with super tour guide Hilary Oxlade and special guest Julia Baird, John Lennon's sister. Hilary is recognized as the consummate guide, and we were honored to have her poise, expertise and great personality leading our MMTour. As if that weren't enough, for the second straight year, John's sister, Julia, was a surprise guest to share her recollections and inside stories along the way. This is an exclusive that no other tour group gets to experience! They first took us to Beatles related sites in Northern Liverpool. Many of these sites are rarely seen by most Beatles fans because of the time and distance needed to get to them. These sites included many of The Beatles' early live venues, The Aintree Institute, Litherland Town Hall, Lathom Hall and Alexandra Hall. We saw Walton Hospital where Paul McCartney was born. A special non-Beatles related stop was Crosby Beach Park which has statues along the beach that face Wales across the sea. Julia Baird told us a funny John Lennon story about the time when John was a young boy out with his grandfather walking. Young John was complaining about his shoes being too tight and uncomfortable, so George, his grandfather took them off his feet and threw them into The Mersey River! The weather was picture-perfect, so we took a quick walk along the beach.

          Making our way back to the southern Liverpool area, the MMT took us to many familiar Beatles sites, again, too numerous to mention. Included were: Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts (LIPA),Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool Cathedral, St. Peters Church, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.

          We also visited more Beatles homes of Ringo: #9 Madryn Street & #10 Admiral Grove, George: #12 Arnold Grove. John Lennon's first home: #9 Newcastle Road. Dovedale School was where George & John attended Primary school. Brian Epstein's house at # 197 Queens Drive. Woolworth's Store on Penny Lane where Cynthia Lennon worked as a teenager. John Lennon Airport, which has a life-size Bronze statue of John inside. The Liverpool Registry Office where John & Cynthia Lennon were married, plus much much more. As has become an annual tradition, the current owner of Ringo's home (may she live long) welcomed us inside.

          The final day in Liverpool ended at The Cavern Club's back stage. BritishMania played another spirited that set featured the Beatle Years 1963-1965. The Spencer Davis Group performed next with a great set that had the audience rocking to such 60's favorites as "Keep On Running," "Gimme Some Loving" and a cover of "House of the Rising Sun." Spencer Davis threw out picks to the audience at the end of the show and I managed to catch one of them!

          Joey Molland from Badfinger closed Liverpool Beatleweek with a mind-blowing concert performance that was very special to all who were there. Returning to his hometown of Liverpool, Joey was joined by his son, Joseph Molland III and The Fab Five. Joey Played Badfinger classics including "No Matter What," "Without You," "Day After Day," "Baby Blue," "I Got You," "Sweet Tuesday Morning" and "Come and Get It." The Cavern Club was rocking at a fever pitch. A perfect ending to a fabulous week in Liverpool.

          The next morning, we all packed up and loaded into the bus for the journey back to London. During the ride we watched The Rutles Movie, laughing and smiling all the way. "Let It Be" was also shown on the bus, as we all reflected on the final performance of The Beatles last concert On top of the roof of the Apple offices in January 1969.

          Back in London, we checked back into the Thistle Hotel in Kensington. But the tour wasn't over yet! Plans were made to attend an exclusive party at a VFW hall near The Old Vic Theatre in London. Richard Porter set up the whole event as a farewell event for our group. By this time, we were also joined by tour-guide Karen Garcia, Liverpool Production's West Coast representative and tour hostess. The hall was recently re-named The Paris Rock Club, and our tour band "BritishMania" performed for us along with 2 other bands. We listened and danced to Beatles music into the night for our gala finale. This was a special ending event to the Magical History Tour 2006. When everyone got back to the hotel late we sat in the lobby and talked about the great times we had during the trip. It was hard for us to believe that this was the last night of the tour.

          In the morning of the next day, Karen Garcia did a great job organizing the group for our trip back to the airport and on to the United States. When we arrived at Heathrow Airport, our final goodbyes were said and we all flew home.

          On behalf of every member of the Magical History Tour 2006, I want to thank Charles F. Rosenay!!! (we missed you this year, Charles, but congratulations on the birth of your new baby, Ian) and especially Danny Levine for making this Beatles Tour one of the best ever taken. Danny's humor and friendship and sincere interest in each and every one of us brought the tour to a whole new level. I can't imagine there being a better tour host across the universe! See you on the tour again soon!

          Photos by Jimmy Ennis, the Nolens, Chris Antonucci and the Colovich's.

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