I Saw Them Standing There – The World of Beatles Statues
Many of us will have seen John Lennon standing in Mathew Street, Eleanor Rigby waiting for lonely people in Liverpool’s Stanley Street or the Beatles walking along the city’s waterfront as they look out along the Mersey and towards world domination.
But have you sat on the Lennon bench in San Jose or the Beatles bench in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, or gazed up at the giant Fab Four in Houston, Texas or the Imagine Peace Tower beam of light in Iceland?
There is one man that has. And that is Chris Slater, Beatle fan and author of a new book, ‘I Saw Them Standing There’, which is dedicated to Beatles monuments, shrines, statues and installations across the globe, if not the actual universe itself.
From Cavern Club, home to the first Beatle statue, created in 1973, to Strawberry Fields in Central Park, the Youth and Freedom sculpture in Mongolia’s Ulaan Bataar to the Beatles bronze in a forest in rural Warwickshire, Chris has chronicled them all inside one cover.
He explains: “I used to make a lot of travel programmes but for the last seven or eight years I’d had business commitments in London so hadn’t done much travelling – and was looking to do some again.
“Really, this happened overnight. I found out there were a lot of Beatles statues, and thought, this is a great story. It’s fascinating the way the band has been interpreted in such different ways. And I spent a lot of time with the people behind them, so in some ways the statues themselves became secondary to their stories. The symbolism of them is really fascinating.”
He met a Russian rock promoter who had spent four years in a Siberian labour camp, and, in Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains, a man who started the first Beatles fan club in the country back in 1985. And Chris jokes: “I must be the only person who has been to Yekaterinburg and hasn’t gone to see the Church on the Blood where the Romanovs were murdered, because I was looking for the Beatle wall instead!”
He was also rescued from a fight in Mongolia by members of the country’s Liverpool FC supporters club, played the band’s Hamburg hits on a ukulele tour of the Reeperbahn, and met the elderly Cuban whose job it was to put a pair of glasses on a statue of John Lennon in Havana so tourists could take its photograph.
Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles, occupies the first 20 pages of the book, with Chris taking his reader on a journey from Arthur Dooley’s Four Lads Who Shook the World, high on the wall in Mathew Street, to Tom Murphy’s sculpture at John Lennon Airport.
He says: “The first statue I saw on my journey was at John Lennon Airport. It’s such a giant, mythical figure striding through the airport. But then there is a Lennon suit in a case in the departure lounge and you realise he wasn’t actually that tall!
“And the final statue I saw was the new Beatles sculpture on the Pier Head. So it all came full circle.”