Crossing Abbey Road

On CBC  this week radio personality Michael Enright pulled recordings out of the station’s archive to let us in on how the Canadian media had covered The Beatles first visit to Canada fifty years ago. It reminded me of the Beatles’ pilgrimage we made on our trip to London. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time.

We took a Magical Mystery Tour when we visited London. When we were planning our holiday in the British capital my husband Dave said his top priority was to tour some of the city sites related to The Beatles. Dave is the owner of all the albums the group has produced and can sing on demand almost any song John, Ringo, Paul and George every recorded.

Shortly after we arrived in London he found a brochure advertising a walking tour which would take visitors to many locations important to the careers of the Fab Four.      

Dave with our guide Richard

  At ten o’clock one morning we met our guide Richard and about two dozen other Beatles aficionados just outside the studio where the first Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine was made. Richard had written a book about the Beatles and had a binder of photos he had taken of the famous quartet. He was a veritable walking encyclopedia of Beatles trivia. He told us Yellow Submarine is one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite films.

Dave at the gate outside the MPL Music Company building

The second stop on our tour was the music company MPL which was founded by Paul McCartney in 1971. The M stands for his last name and the P and L for his first name and that of his late wife Linda. The music company is wildly successful. It owns the rights to hundreds of popular songs as well as the scores to musicals like Annie and Grease. Much to Paul McCartney’s chagrin, however, the rights to all the songs he wrote with John Lennon were purchased by the infamous Michael Jackson.

 Next Richard led us to a Gentleman’s Washroom sign marking the location of a public toilet. Apparently, in 1966 John Lennon made a guest appearance on a British television program. In one scene John was filmed going into that particular washroom. It was on this television show John wore his signature granny glasses for the first time. Those glasses started a fashion craze which lasted for years. Richard also told us some enterprising person kept the roll of toilet paper John Lennon used in the Gentleman’s Washroom that day. It recently went on sale on E- Bay for thousands of pounds.

Our tour continued with stops at the Apple Production Studios where the group gave their final concert on the rooftop in 1969. We saw the London Library. Here original scores of many of the Beatles songs are on display.

The Palladium Theatre London

We stopped outside the Palladium Theatre where the Beatles gave their first concert and Trident Studios where Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was filmed. Our guide Richard put to rest the rumor that the song’s title stands for the drug LSD. Apparently, the real story is that John Lennon’s son Julian came home from kindergarten one day and showed his dad an imaginative drawing he had created and colored. When his Dad asked him what he called his picture he said, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” so John wrote a song about it.

The Abbey Road Recording Studio

The highlight of the tour was our visit to the Abbey Road studio where perhaps the most well known Beatles album Abbey Road was recorded. The front cover of that album shows the four singers walking across the street at a pedestrian crosswalk. The intersection is actually quite busy with traffic but I waited patiently with the camera to get a picture of Dave crossing the street barefoot at the exact spot where the Beatles had their picture taken for the Abbey Road Album cover. Later we stopped to buy Beatles T-shirts for our sons who grew up listening to Beatles music with their Dad and had no choice but to become Beatles fans as well.

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

Our Magical Mystery Tour was over.

Other posts about music of the 60’s……

They’d Never Heard of Woodstock

Walking Into A Bob Marley Tourist Trap

Lesson From Leonard Cohen

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