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George Harrison’s First Trip to America…was to Benton, Ill.

10 am Thurs. on WILL-AM's Focus: Fifty years ago this month, George Harrison visited his sister in southern Illinois in the days before Beatlemania. We retrace his steps.

George Harrison signed this picture of the Beatles for Marcia Raubach

George Harrison signed this picture for Marcia Raubach

Fifty years ago this month, George Harrison visited his sister in southern Illinois. It was five months before Beatlemania hit America, and pretty much the last time Harrison could go anywhere as a normal person. What did the 20-year-old Harrison do on his vacation to America? We’ll retrace his steps on Thursday's Focus.

When she was 17 years old, Marcia Raubach got a phone call to come into the station in West Frankfort, Ill., where she hosted a weekend morning teen music show because there was a musician there who wanted to personally thank her for being one of the first to play his band’s record on the radio in America. That musician was none other than the late George Harrison, and 50 years later, when she looks back on it, Raubach kicks herself for not recording the interview she did with Harrison on WFRX in the fall of 1963.

It was the first interview with a member of the band that aired on American radio, and we’ll talk with Marcia about what she asked Harrison all those years ago. We’ll talk with her about meeting him and how the interview has remained a part of her life ever since.

We’ll also talk with Jim Kirkpatrick, author of the book “Before He Was Fab,” a book about Harrison’s visit to Illinois in 1963 and Bob Bartel, a Beatles memorabilia collector and the man responsible for the “Beatles house” in Benton, where George stayed when he first visited, being named an Illinois historical landmark.