“It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog…”
The song keeps running through my head as I approach Marylebone Station in London where I am meeting a group tour to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles around London. Marylebone Station was where the opening scenes of the Beatles’ movie, Hard Days Night, was filmed in 1964, a comedy describing a couple of days in the life of the group.
Marylebone Station is one of London’s railway and underground complexes, opened in 1899, and the only station to host diesel engines. I meet the group under the attractive archway entrance to the station. Our congenial tour guide, Richard Porter , is known as ‘the Pied Piper of Beatlemania’ and he will take us on a magical tour that recaptures London of the ’60’s when the Fab Four lived here.
“There are places I’ll remember all my life…” I can’t help humming the Beatle’s tune as we follow Richard along the streets of London ‘Town, past the restaurant featured in their movie, Help, and even by the registry office where two of the Beatles were married.
Richard has a number of anecdotes to tell about each site. One of them was the apartment where Ringo, John and Yoko lived and the famous ‘Two Virgins’ photo was taken. This must have a been a notorious party house for musicians because Jimi Hendrix also lived here for a time and the place was noted for its wild parties. Another residence we stopped at was the home of Jane Asher where Paul lived for a time. It was here that he wrote I Want to Hold Your Hand.
The highlight of the day was a visit to the legendary Abbey Road Studios and the famous crosswalk featured on the Beatle’s album of that name. The studios are located at 3 Abbey Road in St. John’s Wood. Originally a Georgian townhouse built in the 1830’s, Gramophone Co. Ltd purchased the property in 1928 and converted it to a recording studio. It was once known as EMI Studios but the name was changed to Abbey Road Studios in 1970. The studio has been used extensively by musicians including the London Symphony Orchestra. Many other famous rock musicians have recorded here including Cliff Richard and Pink Floyd. The Beatles recorded most of their albums here between 1962 and 1970.
Abbey Road Studios has become a place of pilgrimage for Beatle’s fans. The fence surrounding the studio grounds is covered with graffiti commemorating the Beatles. It’s painted over each month to make room for new signatures. The tin sign denoting Abbey Road is now mounted on the building to save it from theft. The famous zebra crossing, featured on the album cover, is on a busy thoroughfare so we must wait for a lull in the traffic before crossing or posing for photographs.
The end of the two hour tour is at the Beatles Coffee Shop where I buy souvenirs to take home for my musician son who was influenced by the Beatles from the age of ten when he first saw them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. Richard Porter’s popular book, The Guide to the Beatle’s London, is also available at the shop.
Richard conducts two Beatles tours, this one which is the “In My Life Walk” and “The Magical Mystery Tour”. No reservations are necessary. Just show up at the designated meeting place. The tours are just over two hours and include two rides on the tube, so buy a travel card for Zones 1 and 2 before coming on the tour.
Written by and photos by W. Ruth Kozak for EuropeUpClose.com