Fifty Years Ago, The Beatles Came Into My Town And Made History

And there they were.

The Fab Four.

The Mop Tops. The most famous rock band there ever was.

And they were at the park behind my college.

It was early February of 1967, and rumors swirled around our school in Sevenoaks, a city about 25 miles north of London. Some black Mini Coopers had been seen by some boys with darkened windows heading into Knole Park, the site of one of Britain’s most magnificent stately homes. And those Minis have been said to include the Beatles.

It was lunchtime, so we walked to the park entrance, which conducted down through the school grounds into the playground. And came upon the outdoor film set where the group was making a promo film for their happy-go-lucky published Penny Lane /  Strawberry Fields Forever single and upcoming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which premiered in the United States 50 years ago Friday.

You may have seen the footage. There’s a section where the quartet ride horses, three of them white and one brown, through a stone archway. There is a part where an old piano is surrounded by them and pour paint it over. And there’s a scene where Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon are currently sitting in an set dining table being served other items and dolls from liveried footmen. The four get up in the table and John and Paul overturn it.


On the desk was an empty Champagne bottle that among my schoolmates caught as a souvenir. He later got George, John and Paul to sign the label. Ringo didn’t make the cut.

After a time, our lunch break was over. “Hadn’t we better go?” Boys began asking one another. It was that — and therefore miss the experience of our young lives — or remain, and risk the wrath.

I opted to stay. After all, in front of us was The Greatest Band There Ever Was. In the height of their popularity. And there was no security. So when they were filming, assistants herded us out of their way, but during breaks we could proceed here and there, hanging out with the bemused group members.

During the intervals, they largely went back to relax near their cars. John, George and Ringo had the Minis, while Paul needed a Humber Super Snipe, among the fancy cars of their day. John kept to himself, so I went over to where George and Ringo were hanging out. “Can I look in the vehicle?” I inquired. “Sure,” one of them said. And so I and another couple of boys peeked inside. “You can get in if you prefer,” said George or Ringo. So we did.

And George decided he would take us to get a spin on one of the forces in the park. There it was — we had ridden in a Beatles automobile, although it was only a little circle.

I asked George for his signature, which he wrote in my school notebook. Like my schoolmate, for some reason, I didn’t get Ringo’s.

It was the Beatles had been at the park a few days before, remaining pesky, pimply pupils. They had taken in some of the attractions at the scenic town, including a visit to an antique shop and afternoon tea at one, where John bought a circus poster. And it was from this poster that a number of the words of the tune Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! , a song on Sgt. Pepper, were shot.

The filming reasoned as well as the group got in their cars. I rushed up since Paul was pushed away and he signed an autograph . Like each the group, he was friendly and smiling.

And therefore we trudged back to college. The following morning the boys who had skipped classes were advised to report for his or her teachers. Our punishment? Six “solaces” of 250 words each, where we had to replicate prose or poetry.

And instead of laboriously replicate, I wrote down lyrics.

They were Bob Dylan songs. I was not much of a Beatles fan.

And these autographs? A couple of decades after, my sister needed a laptop. And one was found by her, with just a few words inside. I had put it aside instead of have the ribbons sit beneath my schoolwork.

Wanting to start with clean pages, she erased them.