It all started with The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. Up until then, the band of four ‘lads from Liverpool’ were relatively unknown in the US, but after that performance, the era of Beatlemania began. For Author Lana Lozito this was the beginning of her lifelong love of The Beatles. Throughout her teen years, she corresponded with George Harrison’s mother, Louise, and through those letters, her love for the band continued.
Over a three-year period, Lana looked back through the letters that she kept in a treasured jewelry box that traveled with her from Long Island, NY to Italy and back again to the US. Her treasured mementos from Mrs. Harrison and further research into The Beatles turned her labor of love into a finished memoir that was released on Amazon earlier this year.
Through her book, Lana has reconnected with old friends and discovered a whole new fan base in their 20’s and 30’s who share her love of The Beatles.
This poignant recollection begins when an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl enters the extraordinary era of Beatlemania. The thread of selective Beatles fun times is woven throughout fifty-plus years, taking you up to present day. The memoir evolved from letters exchanged with the sweetest of pen pals, Mrs. Louise Harrison. This unique experience with George’s mum added to the excitement of getting to know and love the Beatles.
As the Beatles continue to be relevant today, memories of our youth and growing up during the Fab Four times are reignited as you travel through the decades with “Just a Girl….” This memoir is a labor of love that captures a delightful yesterday worth reading about. It will no doubt take you on your own trip down that ’60’s memory lane.
When did you first fall in love with The Beatles?
I guess it was while watching The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. It was the first time they were really exposed to the US. Everyone had heard about them, there was a lot of buzz about this group from England and they came to America… and they had long hair, but no really knew a lot about them until they actually performed. The pandemonium grew from that moment on and that when everyone fell in love with them.
The ’60s was just an amazing era. It was a big turning point for everyone’s life. The ’60s were amazing from the music to the style/fashion and there was just such a revolution of everything we were used to before was not the same anymore. It was fun, the most important part of it was it was innocent fun. We just got a kick learning everything about them and we just wanted to know more.
As they did interviews you got to know that they weren’t just a bunch of guys, that they were actually really funny and entertaining. They became your best friends all of the sudden and it just grew into love.
The music was astounding and the fact that they were musical geniuses because they wrote everything they did. It was just overwhelming.
Of course, I was thirteen when I first learned about them, and as went into my 20’s I wasn’t as crazy about them, but they were always in the background, there was always something that kept my interest.
Then I got this idea to write the memoir since I used to write George Harrison’s mother who I wrote to for about four years. I have all her letters and she was so sweet and kind to me. So I had all these letters and I didn’t want to sell them so I decided to try and transform them into something. So I started thinking about writing this memoir for my children and it just evolved into a big thing for me and a sort of sweet diversion. All at once, it was a hobby for me again to go back and research and go back to those years again.
I went back to all my old memorabilia and it was the sweetest of diversions and I’m thrilled about it.
What is your all-time favorite Beatles song or album?
Well, that’s a question that everyone likes to ask every Beatles fan and everyone tends to be stumped. It’s hard because, in each phase of their music and each album, there’s just something about it.
I’m especially partial to George Harrison and the All Things Must Pass album (1970) and I love all his songs.
As for the Beatle, I love “Here Comes the Sun” or “Hey Bulldog” for a little rock. I like to teach my granddaughters Sofia and Julia about the music, so it’s hard to think about just one song because if I think about one song I like, I immediately think of another.
Where did you buy your first Beatles album?
It was probably in a very famous music store in Long Island, New York called Sam Goody. There were just rows and rows of albums and that was your entertainment, to just go to a record store on a Saturday spend the day looking at albums.
When did you first start writing letters to Louise Harrison (George Harrison’s mother)?
It was a friend of mine and fellow Beatles fan who started writing Louise in 1965. We’d found her in one of those teen magazines that had so many addresses. So we decided to give it a try.
We knew that writing directly to the Beatles it wouldn’t be possible to get an answer, so we decided to write Ms. Harrison since we knew that she wrote to the fans. So we wrote a letter and included a self-addressed stamped envelope just to make it easier for her. Sure enough, she wrote back and we continued writing back and forth for a while together.
When my girlfriend moved we kind of lost contact for a while, but I kept on writing until March 1969. Mrs. Harrison passed in 1970. I have about 20 letters. When I was writing letters along with my friend Jane we’d go back and forth on who got to keep each letter, but once I started writing by myself I was able to keep them all.
After I started writing this memoir, I knew I needed to find her, and I did. We’ve just been reminiscing again, and although she no longer has her letters, she remembers all of the crazy, fun things we did.
How often have you found yourself looking back through the correspondence from the four years that you wrote letters to Louise?
I keep them in a little jewelry box that I put them in 1969 when I moved to Italy. I kept them there and it came with me. Over the years I might have looked at them 10 times, but it was very rare for me to pull them out.
However, when I started writing the memoirs I would look at them more and more.
They’ve been with me forever. It wasn’t an intense pen pal relationship, she just sort of answered our questions. She explained to me how Liverpool wasn’t close to London, which I didn’t realize at the time, but she gave me her phone number and invited me to ring her up if I was ever there.
Now in the day of the internet and WhatsApp, I could have easily called her, but I was a teenager and I wouldn’t do something like that in the ’60s. It would have been such a huge deal, but it was another time back then.
Out of all the things she sent along with her letters, what are some of your most treasured memorabilia?
She would send a little out Pixerama of black and white photos in this little booklet. It was published in 1963 before we even knew about the Beatles. She sent me many autographs and I don’t know if they’re real for sure. I had sent her a picture of Paul, and I sent it to her and asked to have Paul sign it for me. She sent it back to me with a very noticeable Paul McCartney signature on it. Of course, I can’t be sure it’s authentic.
She sent me on a piece of paper that said, “To Lana, John Lennon.” But when I was watching an Antique Roadshow episode and one of the experts said that 90% of autographs aren’t authentic. Sometimes one Beatle would sign for all of the Beatles. So if George was over at his mother’s house he could have signed for all of the Beatles. I might have them validated someday, but I don’t claim that they’re real.
There was one she sent me though with a photo with two signatures and there is an actual indent from the signature and the ink bled through, so it’s not just a print. Somebody actually wrote on it. If it was Paul, I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.
Louise was really amazing and I read a book written by George’s sister called, My Kid Brother’s Band… a.k.a. The Beatles. She was much older than George, he was the baby in the family. In the book, she mentions how her mom and dad would sit at the kitchen table and answer all the letters that came to the house. Reading that just bought it all back to me. She’d write in her letters, “It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, and I’m fine now.” She was phenomenal and went above and beyond for the fans.
When I was in Liverpool I stopped in a Beatles memorabilia store and he had stuff everywhere, Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. I had written to the shop before I visited and they told me that Louise was a prolific writer and she answered every one. Her reasoning was that she was so happy that everyone loved them so much she just wanted to give back and make everyone happy.
I remember reading an article about how George used to get angry at her for writing everyone back. He was upset that she was struggling to answer all the fan mail. She was in her 70’s, but she told him that she had to. I dedicated the book to her because she was the sweetest thing. She never gave up on you. If you wrote her, she wrote you back. I would have loved to have had the chance to have met her.
I did read a blog post about how one fan visited her and Louise invite her in for tea. While she was there George and Pattie came over to visit and there was one fan sitting there with his mom.
How long did it take for you to write the memoir?
About three years. I started looking through the letters and writing a draft in longhand. I sent it to my friend and she thought it was great. I’ve never considered myself a writer, but she told me, “Lana you are a writer!” She encouraged me so much and a friend of hers did the editing for the book. Once COVID hit, I knew that I needed to finish the book before the end of the year.
It was not easy, I was apprehensive because once you press that button and send in the manuscript, that’s it. I had my daughter-in-law Maria who designed the cover and was a source of encouragement throughout the process. It was a three-year labor of love getting back to those ’60’s years. It kept my mind someplace else.
It’s a memoir for my family that is only going to really resonate with those ‘baby-boomer and ‘Beatle-maniacs’ who remember that time. However, one of the crazy things I’ve found on Instagram is all of the 20 and 30-year-old’s who have access to all these old Beatle pictures. I haven’t found one my age, so there is a whole generation out there who has rediscovered them. So I’m having fun all over again.
What have you enjoyed the most about sharing your love of The Beatles with your readers?
Just having the opportunity to remember those sweet memories. Writing and reliving everything again was really nostalgic and it brought me back to my childhood. Remembering all my trips to England and it was just a resurgence of those good feelings from that time.
I had one lady call me, a friend of a friend, who had read the book. She started crying on the phone and was all excited telling me how I had lived what she’d lived and how I’d brought her back to all her happy memories.
I had chills, I could have cried myself. So if I touched somebody like that, it’s cool for me.
They really did touch everybody and that connection is still there. If you talk to an elderly person who loved them, they still love them. There’s no one who liked them that stopped.
Lana Lozito in Liverpool