This entry is a stub
George Harrison, the iconic guitarist for The Beatles, secretly visited the town of Benton, Illinois, several times to visit his sister, Louise, who moved there in 1963.
When Harrison first visited in September 1963, the Beatles had not yet made their debut in the United States. As an account of his trip in Smithsonian Magazine attests, Harrison was able to remain mostly anonymous during his visits to Benton and even sat in with local bands at bars. His sister took him to a drive-in movie, a bocce ball club, and a carhop. She sang the Beatles’ praises to local teenagers and got George to do an interview with a local high school newspaper. According to the article, Harrison “likes smallish blondes, driving, television, sleeping, Chet Atkins, eggs and chips, Eartha Kitt and Alfred Hitchcock movies. He thinks American music is great, and the people around here are friendly. What he liked most about the U.S. was the weather.”
The locals are very proud of their association with the beloved Beatle, as evidenced by the myriad of memorabilia found at the local shops, and this giant commemorative mural by the airport. Created by California artist John Cerney, the 3D mural pops out of the grass to depict a young, Beatlemania-era Harrison playing to adoring fans.
Know Before You Go
Easily visible as you drive down I-57 next to Benton, and you can pull onto the airport access lane to park and take pictures.
Also visit nearby "The First Beatle in America George Harrison" marker.