When The Beatles Were Cowboys

The Beatles’ country fascination went beyond their music. The cowboy imagery was as appealing to the fab four as it was to countless other young men who had grown up on westerns. David Bedford writes about the time they got to saddle up and live out their dreams.

When The Beatles were cowboys
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles 1964 © 1978 Gunther

ON 19TH SEPTEMBER 1964, in the middle of their enormous American tour, The Beatles needed a rest. After their appearance at the Dallas Convention Center during their 25 date US tour, they celebrated Brian Epstein’s 30th birthday on Reed Pigman’s ranch in Alton, Missouri. They landed at the little Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, airport.

Beatles Country: Reed Pigman’s Ranch

The Beatles spent the weekend at Reed Pigman’s ranch, riding on horseback and playing at being cowboys.

Young Reed Pigman, who was 14 years old at the time, remembers their stay well. “They dressed up in their very best cowboy outfits,” Pigman said. Ringo also had a tooled western belt with his name on the back, a gift from Elvis Presley. They also went swimming and drove go-karts. “They went nuts with all the freedom they had,” Pigman said.

Walnut Ridge

When I visited Walnut Ridge in 2017, I met many lovely people, one of whom was Carrie Mae Snapp, the older sister of mayor Charles Snapp. Like all the locals, they made us so welcome. Carrie Mae was a witness to The Beatles short time in Walnut Ridge and took some incredible photographs during their stay.

George Harrison heading to the plane in Walnut Ridge
George Harrison heading to the plane in Walnut Ridge

After a few days, the fab four then returned to the airport and left Walnut Ridge behind, jumping back into the screaming whirlwind that was the band’s touring years.

The little town of Walnut Ridge has an annual Beatles festival – Beatles At The Ridge – which I visited in 2017. What a fantastic festival – a time when the whole town shuts down and celebrates The Beatles.

Read the full story and see all the unique photographs of The Beatles in The Country of Liverpool. The book will be made into a film in 2021 – follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on production.

David Bedford