Beatles Tribute to be Unveiled in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

(Walnut Ridge, Ark.) - The Beatles electrified a small Arkansas town when they made a surprise visit in 1964. Now, they’re coming back!

Walnut Ridge, Ark., will unveil a life-sized sculpture of the Beatles on Sept. 18, culminating a festival and concert that will take place that day. The sculpture, which is an artist’s rendering of the Abbey Road album cover, will be on permanent display in downtown Walnut Ridge.

The unveiling coincides with the 47th anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to the town, located in northeast Arkansas.

The Beatles landed at the airport in Walnut Ridge late on a Friday night, en route to a weekend vacation in southern Missouri. Their arrival was a secret and low key affair, but word had leaked out in the community by the time they departed on Sunday, two days later, and a crowd was waiting to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four. The brief visit by the world’s biggest rock band is now the stuff of legend in the town.

Fittingly, the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band from Branson, Mo., will headline the event Sept. 18. The group is operated by Louise Harrison, sister of the late Beatles’ member George Harrison, and she plans to be at the event and take part in the unveiling.

Also performing are several rockabilly acts, in keeping with the region’s musical heritage. Music will begin at 1:00 p.m., with the Liverpool Legends taking the stage at 5:00 p.m. The giant sculpture (10 feet high and 20 feet wide) is scheduled to be unveiled at 6:00 p.m. The festival and unveiling will take place just north of Main Street in downtown Walnut Ridge.

Walnut Ridge is located along a stretch of road recently designated as Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67, in honor of the rockabilly performers who frequently traveled and performed along the route, especially in the late 1950s. Many of the performers were famous Sun Records artists, including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.

The Beatles sculpture has thus been dubbed The British Invasion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway. It is one of two tourist attractions being built by the tourism committee of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

The committee is also planning a Guitar Walk, a 100 X 40 foot concrete walk shaped like a Gibson Epiphone guitar, the instrument of choice for many of the early rock performers. The walk will be lined with sculptures of the pioneering rock musicians who once performed in the area. That attraction is planned for construction next year, about two blocks from the Beatles sculpture.