Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields

This is a Blog about the real Strawberry Fields which inspired John Lennon to write the iconic psychedelic classic, Strawberry Fields Forever.

Strawberry Field and Penny Lane are the Spiritual Grounds Zero of Psychedelia. The Double A-Sides of Lysergic Lyrics.

Strawberry Field is an actual Salvation Army children’s home in Woolton, Liverpool that was just around the corner from where John Lennon grew up.

Having previously been closed off to the public, Strawberry Field was re-opened in 2019, for the first time, as a tourist attraction with an exhibition on its history, cafe, and shop alongside a training centre for young people with special educational needs.

In 1998, I had the pleasure and honour of being invited by legendary Beatle icon, Allan Williams, as a VIP to attend the Beatles Week event he organising. Allan was the Beatles’ first manager, who brought them to cut their teeth in Hamburg, the rest is Beatlemania history. I took the train from Manchester to Liverpool and kind Allan Williams was waiting patiently at Lime Street Station to help carry my luggage.

The highlight of the event – I got to eat strawberries, with Allan Williams, at Strawberry Field!

This would be my second pilgrimage to Liverpool, my first being in 1987.

Allan Williams at my home in 1997 (above image).

Although Allan Williams passed me a VIP Pass (above image), I really didn’t need it as I was his shadow for the days I was at the multi-day Beatles Week event in Liverpool.

Me in front of the original Strawberry Field red gate (above image) with leafy entrance and graffiti.

Magically and mysteriously, the Magical Mystery Tour coach (above image) pulled up when I was proceeding towards the red gate entrance. Nothing is real!

When you visit Strawberry Field, you must also visit Penny Lane (above image). Double A sides of the vinyl single. The street sign is sprayed because the sought-after metal ones are always being stolen by Beatles fans.

I visited the iconic Penny Lane Roundabout made famous by the Beatles song very early one morning (above image), enjoying the serene psychedelia mecca, “beneath the blue suburban skies”. Thankfully, there was no “pouring rain”. I went before the crowd descended on the popular tourist attraction. The roundabout was often frequented by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison as schoolkids.

Let me share some surreal psychedelic images from the song which mesmerised me as a young lad in Singapore.

“In Penny Lane, there’s a barber showing photographs of every head he’s had the pleasure to know

“On the corner is a banker with a motorcar and little children laugh at him behind his back. And the banker never wears a mac in the pouring rain. Very strange.”

Penny Lane, there is a fireman with an hourglass. And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen. He likes to keep his fire engine clean. It’s a clean machine“.

“Behind the shelter in he middle of the roundabout. A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray. And though she feels as if she’s in a play. She is anyway“.

“Penny Lane, the barber shaves another customer. We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim. And the fireman rushes in from the pouring rain. Very strange.

Images of the barber, banker, fireman, pretty nurse and the pouring rain are like quirky characters straight out David Lynch’s Twin Peaks surreal mystery drama. Very strange indeed.

In celebration of Beatles Week, the authorities opened the grounds of Strawberry Field to the Beatles fans that have come from all corners of the world (above image) – both as participating bands and as attendees. They were Beatles tribute bands from Japan, Germany, France, America and of course, England. I was the sole representative from sunny Singapore.

Me with a dedicated Beatles mop-top era tribute band from Germany (above image).

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The most popular dessert during the Strawberry Field fete was, you guessed it, Strawberries with Cream (above image). I remember I kept rejoining the queue and buying it for me and Allan Williams to enjoy!

Eating strawberries, with Allan Williams, at Strawberry Field! Nothing can top this. Not even drinking Tea In The Sahara. (Please also read my “Tea In The Sahara” blog.)

Whilst queueing to buy strawberries with cream desserts, I encountered many people with Beatles outfits from their various stages. Including a Miss Sgt. Pepper in Paul McCartney’s blue outfit (above image).

In the evenings after the events at Strawberry Field we went for VIP Dinners, there I met my legendary music hero, Alan Parsons (above image).

At the dinner, I also met Sid Bernstein (above image), the legendary American music promoter, talent manager who changed the American music scene in the 1960s by bringing the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, Moody Blues and the Kinks to America.

Me and Allan Williams at The Beatles Shop (above image). Allan kindly showed me around to see the attractions of Liverpool. Liverpool is a walking town.

Me in front of a 3D Sgt. Pepper album cover display at the Beatles Museum in Liverpool (above image).

Side view of the 3D Sgt. Pepper album cover display (above image).

I hired a taxi driver as my personal tour guide to drive me all over Liverpool to see Beatles sights (above image). The taxi driver also doubled duties as my personal photographer. Above image – John Lennon Drive, Paul McCartney Way, George Harrison Close and Ringo Starr Drive.

A) John Lennon’s first childhood home in Menlove Avenue (above image). He named one of his album “Menlove Avenue”.

B) Me at the apartment where John Lennon was last residing, the Dakota Building, New York City (above image). As full-circle visits – I visited the homes where Lennon spent his childhood and where he died.

A) The iconic cover of Ringo Starr’s first solo albumSentimental Journey (above image).

B) Me in front of The Empress pub, the thin building featured on the cover of Ringo Starr’s first solo album – Sentimental Journey (above image). You can see the names of the four Beatles on the signs above me,

Me hanging out with Allan Williams and his pal, the legendry compere and DJ at the legendary Cavern Club, Bob Wooler, where the Beatles first performed and got their break (above image). The cosy place is conveniently called Mad Hatters! Cool name for the trio gathered there.

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A) The cover of John Lennon’s “Rock And Roll” album, shot at a non-descript street doorway in Hamburg, photographed by Jurgen Volmer, an old Beatles acquaintance from their Hamburg days. The three blurry figures are George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Paul McCartney.

B) Me in front of the John Lennon Rock And Roll cover tribute photo spot in Matthew Street, Liverpool (above image). Photograph kindly taken by Allan Williams.

Bonus Images – below are of me in Beatles meccas in London.

For Beatles fans, no trip to London is complete without crossing Abbey Road (above image).

The building where the famous Beatles rooftop concert from “Let It Be” movie was performed and filmed. That’s the last time the Beatles performed as a group. It was the Beatles’ headquarters for Apple Corp. It’s a lawyers office when I took this picture.

A) We all know about the Beatles’ greatest hits -the iconic Red (1962-66) and Blue (1966-70) album covers featuring the band members as clean cut mob tops and later as long-haired hippies (above image).

B) Years after the Red and Blue albums came out, I visited EMI House where the Beatles covers were photographed – see the glassed, vertical stairwell near the centre of the image above. They posed on the floor where the white mushroom-like chair is.

Me at Blue Jay Way, George Harrison’s song in Magical Mystery Tour album, about the name of the street where he stayed briefly in August 1967 atop the Hollywood Hills. The street sign is sprayed because the sought-after metal ones are always being stolen by Beatles fans.

Please also check out my “Allan Williams” Blog on my pal, the late, great and kind first Beatles manager.

R.I.P. Allan Williams!