Shorty Black Raincoats

In the 4th book of my novel Sidereal Days, the fictional band the Sparrows land late in the evening at London Airport in October 1964 for a month-long tour of England. They are met late at night at the airport by an unlikely duo–two Englishmen in “shorty black raincoats.” They are none other than George Harrison and John Lennon, who welcome their fellow rock & rollers to Britain.

I was contacted by a reader who thought this scenario was preposterous. Why would George and John, certainly not known as nature’s noblemen, go out of their way to welcome a middling American rock & roll band in the middle of the night to London Airport and England. It’s a fair question and one I can only answer by saying, I don’t know why exactly except that the two actually did this very thing. The timing was a little different but when America’s greatest little band of all time, the Lovin’ Spoonful, flew to Britain in 1966, there to greet them were John and George. The meeting was captured by a photographer and the photograph appeared in the great teen magazine of the day, 16 Magazine. The little gathering of musicians are huddled in a circle and appear for all the world like hip heads of state conferring about the issues of the day. The first issue was likely, “Were yellow Sun records actually from Nashville or was it Memphis?” Or perhaps John Lennon was asking John Sebastian where he got the wire rim glasses he was wearing – a question that within a year or two would revolutionize the optometry business.

It’s well-known that the Beatles were immense fans of American rock & roll and always felt that the Brits did a version of rock & roll but that the Americans were the actual authentic fountain. And the Beatles were always willing to pay homage to the original source. John Lennon was later to say that the Beatles never did anything to compare with Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. But of course John Lennon said an awful lot of things.