John Lennon’s half-sister makes special appearance in Kent


The Mersey Beatles perform “Get Back” at The Kent Stage on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

Kassandra Kaczmarek

The Kent Stage transformed into the era of the 60s Saturday night with a performance from The Mersey Beatles and John Lennon’s sister made a guest appearance.

“He was an elder brother, my experience with him was exactly what you would expect a brother to be like,” said Julia Baird, John Lennon’s younger half-sister. “John was older, but he did a lot with us; he babysat us, he took us out, took us to the park, read with us, drew with us, made things for us.”

Baird is traveling with the Liverpool-based tribute band as an opening speaker for their American tour. She also promotes the annual International Beatleweek Festival in Liverpool this August while on tour.

“I just want to say to you come to Liverpool if you can, we’re bringing Liverpool to you tonight but if you can get to Liverpool, it will be one of the best experiences of your life as Beatles’ fans,” Baird said.

She started off the night by showing a short video about the band, which featured some shots of Kent and Northeast Ohio.

The band dedicated the first half of the show to the 50th anniversary of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. They were dressed head to toe in their colored suits, just like the original album cover.

In the second half, they played a mix of other popular Beatles’ songs, switching up their wardrobe multiple times to coincide with the era of the song.

“Mark Bloor plays John,” Baird said. “And when he puts the glasses on, it’s not just the glasses. Tt’s not just the wig. It is the way he stands, the head roll, just everything.”

The crowd was engaged by swaying their phone lights and singing along to the famous song “Yesterday,” which is the number one most covered song to date according to Mental Floss.

Fans really got up on their feet to dance around during the second half to songs like: “Twist and Shout,” “Help!,” and “Hey Jude.”

“I’ll have to say that the guys last night overall were the best that I’ve ever seen,” said Tom Simpson, the principal owner and booking agent for The Kent Stage. “The harmonies were outstanding I thought. The addition of the keyboard player is something that the other bands don’t do, it really took it to another level.”

Before the show, Baird spoke about her relationship with her older brother and their favorite songs and music they would listen to together.

“John’s favorite when we were talking in the mid-70s was Stand By Me by Ben E. King and I really do love it,” Baird said. “In fact, I’ve got a recording of John in the studio, doing it and stopping and starting, saying, ‘no, no let’s go back and do it again’ because he wanted to get it right. Ben E. King was even kind enough to say that he preferred John’s version.”

Baird recalled what it was like in her house growing up when her brother was starting The Beatles.

“There was always some kind of loud music at our house, and my mom would join in with the band,” Baird said. “She played the guitar, the piano, the accordion, the banjo, the ukulele. And my father sang the opera, so there was always some kind of music going on in the house.”

After the show ended, Baird signed copies of her book, “Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon,” which she wrote to counter all the untruthful fiction about Lennon.

“It was to finally put the record straight,” Baird said. “It was cathartic to me. I didn’t realize how much it would be so. There are hundreds, thousands of books about John, but so many of the stories in other people’s books aren’t true. I do know the story because I was living it, so i’ll write it.” 

Kassandra Kaczmarek is an arts and entertainment reporter, contact her at [email protected].