Sunday 17 March 2013

John and George Honoured with Blue Plaque

By Ernie Sutton

On 17th March Both John Lennon and George Harrison were honoured with a blue plaque at the old Apple boutique in Baker Street, London.

John had previously been honoured with a blue plaque at the same location, but this was replaced with one for both John & George.  The old plaque was later auctioned at the Heritage Foundation lunch at the Marriott Hotel, Regents Park.

Apple in 1968
The old Apple Boutique is situated on the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street in the Marylebone district of London. It opened on 7th December 1967, following a launch party held two days earlier, which John and George attended with their wives. Other notables at the party were Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Cilla Black.

The boutique was a disaster. Initially run by Pete Shotton, an old school friend of John’s, and Jenny Boyd, sister of George’s wife Pattie.  Stock was disappearing and not being paid for and in July 1968 the shop closed with everything being given away.Perhaps the most famous moment in the short history of this venture was the wonderful mural on the outside walls painted by “The Fool”.

Local residents were outraged at such a design lowering the tone of the area and in the end Apple were ordered to change the design. They opted for an all white wall in the end.

Having arrived at 11am following a visit to The Beatles Coffee Shop, London Beatles Store and the London Beatles Day at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel just a few yards away, I saw a man putting the final touches to the covering that would later reveal the plaque.

There was rain in the air but that didn’t deter people from turning up, as the crowd steadily grew and some pedestrians walking by wondering what was happening.

John Altman

We were expecting Michelle Collins, the Eastenders, and Coronation Street actress, Jess Conrad and our good friend Rod Davis, one of the original Quarrymen to appear to perform the unveiling at mid-day.  However, about half an hour before the unveiling a taxi pulled up and Eastenders bad boy Nick Cotton (alias John Altman) appeared. John had played George Harrison in the 1979 film “Birth of The Beatles”.

Rick Wakeman

As mid day approached a hoard of famous faces started to appear. Frank Allen, from The Searchers, in a very snazzy multi-coloured jacket, Rick Wakeman from Yes, Jess Conrad, our good friend Tony Bramwell, Jeffrey Holland, who is Vice President of the foundation and probably best known for his role of Spike Dixon in the 1980’s BBC comedy Hi De Hi, and Vicki Michelle herself (Yvette in the 1980’s BBC comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo).

L-R: Jeffrey Holland, Rick Wakeman, Jess Conrad, Vikki Michelle,
Frank Allen, John Altman (behind Frank), Tony Bramwell
Also there were Dave Stark and Glen Knowler from the wonderful band The Trembling Wilburys, and of course Rod Davis.

Rod Davis, from John's original Quarrymen
After a countdown the rope was pulled to reveal the plaque, and spontaneous applause broke out.  There is still a great fondness for The Beatles and this seemed a fitting tribute to both John and George.  It was great to see fan club members there too John Eustace and Dave Hemms, as well as Mad Day Outer Mike Darwood, and our very own Richard Porter.

As the party made their way to their cars I felt that although this event had only taken a few minutes, it was something I was privileged to have attended.

The Heritage Foundation evolved from Comic Heritage which was founded in 1994, to its current form at the turn of this century. It aims to pay tribute to those British stars who continue to bring joy to millions of people, by holding various events as well as raising money for their charity The Arts and Entertainment Charitable Trust’. The current President is Vicki Michelle, and past Presidents include the much missed Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees.

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