Saturday, June 2, 2012

beatles in key west

It's no great secret that I've been known to spend some quality time with friends at the Green Parrot Bar. It's a great spot for good company, cold draft beer and some of the best blues
on the rock.

 indoors at the Green Parrot Bar

Among other cool things at the Parrot, there hangs an eclectic collection of cool stuff on the walls. Not too long ago I noticed - not too far from the portraits of Smirk and the cross - eyed Lincoln - an 8 x 10 black and white photograph of the Beatles and got to wondering, "what's the connection?"

Here's the connection. . .

In September of 1964, as the next stop of their first tour of North America, the Beatles flew out of Montreal for a concert at the GatorBowl in Jacksonville Florida.
But, at the last minute, their flight was diverted to Key West.

The reason for the diversion was due high winds and unpredictable weather conditions caused by the approaching hurricane Dora. A storm that ultimately did come across northern Florida and reached in as far as Gainsville.

aerial view of the Key Wester Motel, c. 1964

So, their flight was diverted and the Beatles had a day or so of R&R and spent it at the Key Wester Motel, next to the airport on South Roosevelt Blvd.

While they were there, they indulged in Key West's most favorite, well - second most favorite, sport. . .
(face it, Key West is a drinking town with a tourist problem) they chilled out poolside and jammed with New Orleans rhythm and blues singer Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

When the storm had passed, they were back on the plane and headed again to Jacksonville for their September 11th GatorBowl gig.

After they'd gone (Beatlemania being what it was at the time) water from the swimming pool where they'd hung out was collected and sold in vials and the cottage's bed sheets were torn into strips and sold as well.
(talk about your true "cottage industry")

In time, except for the cottage where the boys stayed, the Key Wester Motel was demolished and replaced by the Hyatt Windward Pointe Resort.
The original cottage became a shrine of sorts and today it's been preserved as an "historical place of interest" as an outdoor, poolside tiki bar and restaurant called the  
"Abbey Road Snack Shack".
(yet another place to grab a cheeseburger in paradise)

stained glass at the HardRock Cafe


addypotter said...

I love the Beatles and I love Key West. I didn't realize that they visited so often. Next time I stay at Key West bed and breakfast I will have to check out the Green Parrot Bar.

Roberta Mira said...

I was six years old at the time and I remember I was among a large crowd that gathered in front of the old Key Wester Hotel. I walked up to their hotel room and knocked on the door and asked for an autograph. The manager politely said they were out. I was and still continue to be a big fan. I have my Beatle Charm Braclet and Lunch Box to this day. Roberta Mira