ESCONDIDO, CA-Recently discovered archives at the Lawrence Welk resort near this city, belonging to the eponymous bandleader suggest that the Beatles might have joined Welk and his Musical Family when they visited the United States in 1964.
There seems to have been some confusion between the identity of Beatles member John Lennon and Welk's singing group The Lennon Sisters, which led Welk, accordion player Myron Floren, producer Jim Hobson and musical director George Cates to suggest that the Beatles join such acts as the Lennon Sisters, tap dancer Arthur Duncan, singer Mary Lou Metzger, clarinet player Henry Cuesta and Irish baritone Joe Feeney. Apparently Welk thought that singer John Lennon was a distant cousin or brother of Welk's Lennon sisters and wanted to have John Lennon and his British group on his show.
At the time, Lawrence Welk had his own variety show on ABC television, which would run until 1971, and in syndication until 1982. The Beatles made their debut on CBS television's The Ed Sullivan show; a performance which changed musical history in the United States and elsewhere, most music historians say.
It would have to be necessary to change the group's name from a group of insects to one that sounded like a quartet, noted one memo from Welk to Cates. "Some of our staff members might think that if we have insects loose on our stage, then there might be screaming and it'd be high time to call the Orkin® Man," Welk wrote. "How about the Liverpudlians or the English 4 instead?"
The idea of teaming John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison with Kathy, Janet, Peggy and Dianne Lennon did hold promise. "The Liverpool guys have a song called 'Sisters, O Sisters' which we could have them serenade for the real Lennon Sisters," wrote Welk in the same memo with emphasis added by Welk. "That would be the performance of the year! Take that Ed!"
Given Welk's demographic, the group from Liverpool would have had to change its appearance. No mop-style hairdos would have been allowed on Welk's TV show. "We would encourage the Liverpudlians to wear derby hats and canes with their black Petrocelli® suits if we can get them to appear on our show," Welk wrote in another memo. "None of these regular suits or Pan Am bags around here."
And the lads from Liverpool would have to be careful with their songs as well. Nothing about love, strawberry fields, peace or Eleanor Rigby would likely would have been permitted by Welk, a manager at the resort who did not want to be named suggested. Instead, Welk would probably have urged the quartet to perform such wholesome fare as "I've Got Tuppence", "Chim, Chim, Cheree" or "The White Cliffs of Dover".
And for John Lennon to get in bed with Yoko Ono on the show? According to the resort manager, that would have been the end of both the Beatles and Lawrence Welk.