BENTON — A historical marker of international significance will recognize Benton’s place in the history of The Beatles.
The marker will be dedicated later this year during a 50th anniversary commemoration of Beatle George Harrison’s visit to Benton in 1963.
Harrison traveled to the Franklin County city to visit his sister, Louise, then a resident of Benton. Harrison’s trip to Benton represents the first made to the United States by one of the famed Beatles.
“That makes it of historical significance internationally,” Illinois State Historical Society executive director WIlliam Furry said during a news conference in Benton Wednesday.
Harrison got to know the city and surrounding area during the two-plus weeks of his visit, Furry said. He hiked at Garden of the Gods, sat in with a local band and visited teenage DJ Marcia Raubach at WFRX in West Frankfort.
Raubach, who is credited with spinning the first Beatles record over the U.S. airwaves, said Harrison’s sister had visited her a number of times to try and promote her brother’s music and brought Harrison to the station for an interview when he was in Benton.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Raubach, a member of the committee organizing the 50th year commemoration.
The marker will be placed on the east side of the Franklin County Courthouse lawn, committee member Jim Kirkpatrick said.
“This is the side of Benton most closely associated with his visit,” Kirkpatrick said. “Louise lived about a half-mile east (of the courthouse) and George did a lot of things around the (Benton Public) Square.”
The marker will be dedicated at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 and the committee is planning activities, to be announced later, around the dedication ceremony, Kirkpatrick said.
Organizers hope Harrison’s sister will be among the special guests for the day’s activities.
Donations of $5 and up are still being accepted to pay for the cost of the marker and landscaping, Furry said. Information on donating can be found at the ISHS website.
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