On February 9th 1964, The Beatles made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show performing a four song set-list; effectively exploding into mainstream public consciousness and marking the beginning of worldwide Beatlemania. Their legacy is immense with their influence not only limited to music but also extending to areas of fashion, films, politics and counter-culture. The height of worldwide Beatlemania may have waned in recent years, but their popularity still continues to grow strong to this day. Setting aside Liverpool -the vastly rich in Beatles-memorabilia hometown of the Beatles – let us examine the countries that have paid tribute to the Fab Four:
1. Strawberry Fields (New York, USA)
New York was the final place where John Lennon lived before he was brutally murdered by Mark David Chapman. Named after Lennon’s childhood playground, as well as the highly ground-breaking psychedelic hit, Strawberry Fields Forever, Strawberry Fields is a 2.5-acre memorial garden located in New York’s Central Park. Officially opened on October 9, 1985 – the 45th anniversary of Lennon’s birth, Strawberry Fields is dedicated to memory of John Lennon and features a lovely contemplative garden place blooming with shrubs, trees, flowers, and rocks donated by 150 countries around the world. In the centre of the parkland is a circular pathway stone mosaic that reads ‘Imagine’ – the title of Lennon’s peace anthem. The Imagine mosaic is often decorated with flowers by lifelong Beatles fan, Gary dos Santos – the self-proclaimed ‘Mayor of Strawberry Fields’ who has been decorating the mosaic for the last 14 years.
2. Beatles Platz (Hamburg, Germany)
Before they conquered the world, the Beatles were once a five-piece band performing live in front of rowdy audiences at the music clubs. Hamburg will forever remain an important chapter in the Beatles’ career as it was at this German port-city where the Beatles honed their musical skills and first adopted the mop-top look; preparing them for their eventual greatness. Located at the crossroads of Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit in Hamburg, Beatles-Platz is a 29-metre diameter wide plaza that resembles a vinyl disc. Situated on the south side of the plaza are 5 hollow steel frame statues that represent the Beatles and their former members: Stuart Sutcliffe (original bassist) and Pete Best (original drummer). Completed in 11 September 2008, the plaza commemorates Hamburg’s importance in The Beatles’ history. Beatles-Platz is the first of many planned projects which are aimed at targeting the Beatles’ memorisation in Hamburg’s cityscape.
3. John Lennon Wall (Prague, Czech Republic)
Lennon and the other ‘Lennon’, Vladimir Lenin, both ironically believed in the same ideals of peace and classless society; the only difference was their method of action. Located in Mala Strana district of Prague, opposite to the French embassy, the Lennon Wall is a random secluded wall covered with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and selections of Beatles lyrics. Who exactly initiated the graffiti remains a mystery but it is known that the street art began shortly after John Lennon’s death, quickly establishing itself as an impromptu protest space. The secret police repeatedly attempted to suppress the graffiti but new messages of peace continued to appear with every new day – becoming a great source of irritation for the communist leaders. Today, the wall represents a symbol of youth ideals such as free speech, love and peace. Some people believe that the Lennon Wall was a source of inspiration for the non-violent Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of Communism in 1989.
4. Imagine Peace Tower (Reykjavík, Iceland)
Imagine is Lennon’s most recognisable pieces, often included in several most-influential and greatest-songs-of-all-time lists. This beautiful ballad to peace is absolutely powerful simply because it appeals to every single one of us. Anywhere in the world you go, Imagine is equal to a national anthem. The Imagine Peace Tower is a memorial situated on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay near Reykjavík, Iceland - a location chosen for its picturesque beauty and the nation’s eco-friendly approach to geothermal energy. It consist of a circular white stone monument that projects a tall ‘tower of light’ using fifteen searchlights. Carved onto the monument are the words ‘Imagine Peace’ in 24 languages. Using only 75 kW of power, the monument shoots rays vertically into the sky and are said to reach over an altitude of 4000m during clear skies. Lying beneath the monument are roughly 500,000 written wishes that Yoko Ono gathered over the years in another projects of hers called ‘Wish Trees’.
5. Parque John Lennon (Havana, Cuba)
Once considered too ‘American’, The Beatles were once banned on the island during the 60’s and 70’s – even listening to their songs would’ve been considered an act of treason! However, with the times changing and the strict communist rule relaxing, it seems that Cuba is now making up for lost time with Parque John Lennon – a public park located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba. Parque John Lennon features a bronze sculpture of John Lennon sitting on the right side of a park bench. The sculpture was created by Cuban artist José Villa Soberón and was unveiled on 8 December 2000 by President Fidel Castro. The bench sculpture is placed on a marble tile floor where the lyric “Dirás que soy un soñador pero no soy el único” John Lennon, (You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one) appears, inscribed onto the marble at the foot of the bench. The sculpture of Lennon does not unfortunately feature Lennon’s iconic round-lens glasses since it has been often stolen or vandalised in the past. However, the glasses are available upon request by the park security when you want your picture taken!
6. The Beatles Memorial (Yekaterinburg, Russia)
The Beatles are truly back in the former U.S.S.R! Overlooking the Iset River in Yekaterinburg, Russia, The Beatles Memorial is a hollow steel-framed statue of the Beatles on stage, mounted onto a brick wall. Engraved beneath the figure is the famous final lyric from the Abbey Road track, The End; ‘The Love you take is equal to the love you make.’ The surrounding the Beatles Memorial is ‘The Wall of Love’, a colourful painted wall that depicts the Beatles hometown of Liverpool – there’s even a painted entrance to the Cavern Club! Visitors to the Beatles memorial are encouraged to leave their own special messages on the wall. Although Sir Paul McCartney has yet to visit the memorial Lennon’s pre-Beatles band, The Quarrymen, made an appearance by performing a set at the unveiling ceremony. Vladimir Popov, President of the local Ural Beatles Club, was the main driving force behind the project, eventually raising US$26,000 in funding. Upon asking the design of the monument, he replied the band “is depicted on stage because that is their natural state, and that is how many remember them.”
7. The Beatles Monument (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)
The Beatles influence stretch far across the world, even in the most remote and exotic corners of the world. Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, boasts the Beatles Monument: a guitar shape monument with 4 bronze sculptures of the Beatles set against a backdrop of a brick wall. The reverse side of the monument features a young longhaired Mongolian boy sitting on a staircase strumming his guitar in front of a stark yellow concrete wall. The projected was funded using private funding that estimated to US$100,000 and was designed by Den Barsboldt, who assigned several symbolic features on the monument. The brick wall represents the Beatles’ childhood home of Liverpool as well as the emerging Mongolian democracy; the young Mongolian boy represents the Mongolian youth; and the yellow wall symbolises the Soviet era style apartments (and perhaps the Yellow Submarine). The symbols of the Beatles monument represent Mongolia’s progress in modern history.
For a related article, read A Guide to The Beatles