The True Story of the “Beatles’ Runaway”
Courtesy of Beatles Autographs
By now, everyone already knows that this month marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first trip to America. This fall we'll reach another milestone — the 50th anniversary of the tale of the "Beatles runaway."
We touched upon the story of Elizabeth Freedman, now known as Elizabeth Jones, in our earlier post about the rush of Beatles memorabilia for sale tied into the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first U.S. visit, and thought it would be a idea to get the story directly from her.
While the then 13-year-old Elizabeth was known as "the Beatles runaway" in the press following her disappearance and meeting with the Beatles, she says the name is a bit inaccurate. "It wasn't really to see particularly any one band," she says. "It was the whole music scene in London that I was looking for, not the Beatles in particular, but I certainly was a big fan of theirs. I never dreamed I would get to meet them by going there."
Before she took off to London, Elizabeth saw the Beatles in concert at the old Boston Garden, but also checked out the Animals in concert, staked out their hotel, and ended up sharing a hamburger with singer Eric Burdon. She was inspired to take the trip to London after seeing a story in the newspaper about two other girls who ran away. "I just decided that I could do that, too," she recalls. "I thought, 'That's a pretty cool thing to do.'"
So she withdrew money that her grandparents had given her from her bank account, went into Boston to get her passport and smallpox vaccination, and bought a plane ticket. "The whole time I was expecting that someone was going to look at me and stop me, because I was too young, but no one said a word," she recalls.
Elizabeth booked her trip and a hotel for her first few nights in London through a travel agent, but later got a room at a boarding house. "I had a good time," she says. "I went to clubs, I went to the theater, I went out to eat. At that time the dollar was pretty strong, so my money went a long way." She also caught a show at the Palladium featuring Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, and Petula Clark.