Walnut Ridge, Ark
The massive Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park, currently nearing completion in downtown Walnut Ridge, is not made in the likeness of any ordinary guitar. Planners say the walk is designed in the shape of an Epiphone Casino, with a sunburst pattern, the instrument of choice for a number of prominent rock ‘n’ roll musicians.
“The Casino was the first Epiphone guitar to feature a completely hollow body. It also featured a 17-degree headstock and a neck joint at the 16th fret. That created more string tension, and when combined with the thin, hollow body it produced a truly unique sound – a sound that has become most associated with John Lennon and The Beatles,” said Charles Snapp of the Lawrence County Tourism Committee.
Although the Casino did not arrive until the early 1960s, after the heyday of many rockabilly legends who performed along Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67, Snapp noted that there is a strong connection tying The Beatles to early rockabilly legends and the music they birthed. As Lennon himself once said, “Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis (Presley).”
And Carl Perkins was quoted as saying, “The Beatles bought my kids a lot of bicycles and shoes,” referring to the royalty checks he received from the songs he had written which were covered by The Beatles.
Both Presley and Perkins are among the rockabilly pioneers who will be honored along the Guitar Walk. Large plaques with photos and text about the artists will encircle the walk, and an audio tour will also provide historical insight into their days on Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67. Nine artists will be featured at the site.
Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park will be dedicated on Sept. 15 as part of the annual Beatles at the Ridge festival. A stage set up across Front Street from the Guitar Walk will feature Beatles tribute band the Liverpool Legends, as well as Sun Records artist Sonny Burgess and the Pacers and a performance by Stan Perkins, son of Carl Perkins.
The festival will go on all day Sept. 15, and Snapp said the Liverpool Legends will take the stage at 4 p.m., followed by Burgess and Perkins. The Liverpool Legends are operated by Louis Harrison, sister of the late George Harrison of The Beatles. They performed before thousands of fans at last year’s Beatles at the Ridge festival.
The band will play for about two hours, and they will be joined at one point by Burgess and Perkins to perform a couple of songs by Carl Perkins.
Beatles at the Ridge this year will include stages, booths, food and activities on both sides of Main Street. Snapp noted that the Iron Mountain Festival, which has been a popular event in downtown Walnut Ridge for several years, has been incorporated into Beatles at the Ridge for one large festival that covers all of downtown this year.