I’ve done entertainment art over the years, and my paintings of Johnny Depp, Steven Tyler and The Beatles are popular with the folks who walk through my Matlacha gallery each day. While I was always a fan of The Beatles and their music, I wasn’t over the top. But my sister certainly was. I remember to this day when we sat down to watch them perform for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was in awe as I watched them play. John, Paul, George and Ringo were so cute. And their music was like nothing we’d ever heard before. But all those girls in the audience screaming and crying like that? Really?
Then my sister started throwing jelly beans at the television screen. It was George Harrison’s fault I later learned. He’d told an interviewer the year before they invaded the United States that Jelly Babies were his favorite treat and that John Lennon, ever the prankster, kept stealing them from him.
Within no time at all, fans began sending the Fab Four boxes of Jelly Babies. It wasn’t long before fans started throwing Jelly Babies at The Beatles when they performed. It turns out that the foursome didn’t appreciate the gesture the least little bit, but my sister hadn’t gotten the memo.
While I wasn’t as avid a fan as my sister, I did like their music. And like other fans, I was sorry when they decided to quit touring, and even sadder when the band broke up, John was murdered and George died of lung cancer. But I didn’t paint the group until much later. It was during one of my visits to Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France.
After leaving France, my husband and I attended a book signing in London for The Beatles in Rishikesh. The author, Paul Saltzman, took photos of The Beatles while they were at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India. He was there learning meditation. He not only took pictures of the Beatles, he snapped pictures of everyone else who was there as well – Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd Harrison, Maureen Starkey, Mia Farrow and Mike Love.
I bought a copy of the book and got it signed. The book and the signing inspired Mike and I to visit the Beatles shop in London to see if they had any interest in the paintings I’d done in Giverny. Although the shopkeeper didn’t carry art in his store, he gave me the name of a gallery owner in Liverpool who he thought would want to buy my paintings.
Equipped with only a credit card and the rolled canvases I had tucked tightly under my arm, Mike and I headed straight for the train station and bought two tickets to Liverpool. The train was already moving when we jumped on and made our way to our seats. Liverpool wasn’t just around the corner. By train, it’s a three hour ride.
We discovered something remarkable when we arrived in Liverpool later that afternoon. The locals were so over The Beatles. While they were friendly and engaging, their attitude was, “There’s more to Liverpool than just the Beatles.” Undeterred, we visited The Cave (the club where The Beatles performed before they became famous) and the museum before we found the gallery owner the shopkeeper in London had sent us to see.
It turned out that he was in the process of setting up his gallery, and he had all this art leaning on the walls. But none was of the Beatles, and he leapt at the chance to put my paintings on the walls. Even if the locals were over the Beatles, their fans still made pilgrimages to Liverpool and he knew that my paintings would sell very well.
Mike and I returned to Matlacha, but by the time I finished and framed the four he wanted, the Liverpool dealer had already closed his gallery and gone out of business. Go figure.