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Rockhampton sisters have proof they really met The Beatles

MAGIC MOMENT: Sisters Mona Kielly (left) and Amy Lester have incredible memories of the day they met The Beatles in Brisbane in 1964. Fifty years on and a photo has emerged showing Amy with Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
MAGIC MOMENT: Sisters Mona Kielly (left) and Amy Lester have incredible memories of the day they met The Beatles in Brisbane in 1964. Fifty years on and a photo has emerged showing Amy with Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Chris Ison

FOR nearly 50 years, Amy Lester and her two younger sisters have been sharing stories about the day they met The Beatles in Brisbane.

The Rockhampton women have vivid memories of the monumental event but have never had photographic evidence - until now.

A chance discovery on the internet has unearthed a black and white image showing Amy with band members Ringo Starr and George Harrison. It is credited to photographer John Howard.

Also in the photo is a female ranger from Lone Pine Sanctuary, who was there to introduce the English band members to some of Australia's native wildlife.

Amy cannot believe the photo has finally come to light, bearing witness to the historic occasion when three indigenous sisters from the small Central Queensland town of Bluff got to mingle with rock royalty.

"It's just amazing. It's incredible seeing it after all this time," the 73-year-old said from her Rockhampton home.

"For 49 years and nine months we've talked about it but we've had no proof. Now here it is.

"The funny thing is that I wasn't really a Beatles' fan at the time. It was Joan and Mona who loved them."

Amy went to Brisbane to act as chaperone for her younger sisters - Mona, then 18, and Joan, 14 - who had tickets for The Beatles' final Australian concert at Festival Hall on June 30, 1964.

Their parents did not want the teens to be in Brisbane by themselves and asked Amy, who was then 23 and living in Warwick, to join them for their three-night stay.

Amy said it was a chance encounter in Brisbane's CBD that led to the Smith sisters meeting three members of the band.

The trio was doing some sightseeing on the day before the concert.

They were window shopping in the Queen St mall when the two younger girls were approached by a man, who started talking to them about The Beatles.

Amy was slightly ahead of her sisters when she heard them shrieking with excitement.

She turned to see them engaged in an earnest conversation. When she hurried back to confront the man, he quickly reassured her that his intentions were genuine.

"He said he was travelling with The Beatles," Amy said. "He relayed to us that The Beatles were very disappointed because it was their last show in Australia and they hadn't yet met an Aboriginal person.

"I am sure they thought they would see kangaroos hopping up and down the street, koalas up every tree and Aborigines walking around with their spears."

The man also said that Joan bore a striking resemblance to the Aboriginal star of the influential indigenous movie, Jedda.

He said he would arrange for the sisters to meet the band at the penthouse of The Beatles' hotel (ironically, Lennon's Hotel) the following day.

They agreed.

Amy said she could not believe it when he called to confirm.

The girls could not be chauffeured because Brisbane's inner-city streets were blocked so they made the walk from their accommodation at the People's Palace to The Beatles' hotel.

Mona said that did not faze her at all: "Didn't matter me, I was going to see Ringo."

The sisters said it felt incredible to be ushered through the crowds into the hotel foyer.

"The number of screaming girls outside was unbelievable," Amy said, remembering the crush of the fans. "The noise outside Lennon's - I can still hear it today."

They were led upstairs to the penthouse where they were introduced to Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney. John Lennon was not there - he was having a shower in preparation for that night's concert.

Amy said the girls spoke with the band members for close to 20 minutes.

"They were friendly, very friendly. They just chatted away and told us they were really glad to meet us," Amy said.

Topics:  celebrities, ringo starr, the beatles




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