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Coopwood: And The Beat Goes On

Rocker, Derek St. Holmes standing next to the jacket worn by Paul McCartney at the famous Shea Stadium concert which is one of many Beatles’ items on display at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.
Rocker, Derek St. Holmes standing next to the jacket worn by Paul McCartney at the famous Shea Stadium concert which is one of many Beatles’ items on display at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

“How in the world did this museum end up here in Cleveland of all places,” asked my good friend Derek St. Holmes as we walked through the Grammy Museum together last week here in my town of Cleveland.

Derek has been the singer for Ted Nugent for the past 40 years, and together they have sold millions of records and played all over the world. Simply put, Derek has seen it all. Therefore, watching his reaction from the museum’s exhibits meant a lot, and this is exactly what we want … we want everyone who walk through the doors to be overwhelmed with what they see.

In fact, this “…why Cleveland..” remark is a question I’m being asked a lot these days. The answer? While we Mississippians are sometimes divided, this time around the region and state came together and worked tirelessly for five long years to turn what was once a long shot idea into a reality. That determination, teamwork, and generous support from corporations, individuals, county and state government is exactly why the Grammy folks chose the Delta over other regions to build their first museum outside of Los Angeles. And, this incredible facility has already proven to be a huge draw for the Delta as almost 5,000 people passed through the its doors the first month. If this is any indication as to what the future will bring, the Delta and state are both in for one great ride as the Grammy Museum will no doubt add to the region’s tourism industry.

Rightfully, we always tip our hats to the many Delta blues greats who ignited the spark that gave birth to rock & roll music. But, it took several powerhouses to carry that torch across the globe such as, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and perhaps more than anyone, The Beatles.

At 8:00 p.m. on February 9, 1964, 73 million Americans tuned into the Ed Sullivan show where they received their first live look at The Beatles. That one broadcast galvanized the music business and after that evening rock & roll hit the stratosphere. Every member of my family in Shelby was also watching, especially my older sister. Two years later in August of 1966, The Beatles performed at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, and half of the Delta’s teenagers seemed to be in attendance according to my friends who were there. Additionally, reports are that it was difficult to hear The Beatles’ because of the thousands of teenage girls screaming.

And now, The Beatles have returned again to the region in the form of the inaugural special exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland which is an in-depth look at this super group. My music friend, Derek, was moved by the experience as he stood inches away from clothes, guitars, and other items worn and owned by The Beatles. In fact, he got lost in this amazing display. If you have not had a chance to see The Beatles’ exhibit at the Grammy Museum, I encourage you to do so as this special exhibit will soon be ending.

There is a never a dull moment in the Mississippi Delta these days. Our many museums now located here are adding to that “things to do” list, and people from around the globe are noticing.

Onward and upward indeed!

Scott Coopwood is a seventh-generation Deltan who lives in Cleveland, Mississippi with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current.

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