BOOK REVIEW by Madeline Bocaro

My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland (A True Story from 1964)

by Janice Mitchell


I could not wait to dig into this book. It’s got everything… the determination and passion of youth, the Beatles, teenage runaways, an international search in 1964…

My only hope was that the story would be well written, and it most certainly is! The author had suppressed her amazing story for 50 years, keeping it safe and pristine in her memory, as if it were only a precious dream. But this was more than real – with news headlines to prove it!  The book reads as if the teen was writing it all down as it happened, without a thought for the future, or about what has transpired since that fleeting glorious time of freedom in England – and the eventual doom of her capture. She conveys feelings of excitement, trepidation, fear and exhilaration wavering throughout the story. We are taken back to swinging sixties London in all its glory, and we witness a Beatles concert in Cleveland – from the front row!

Janice gives a wave from the back of a car in a vintage newspaper photo on the book cover. She looks naturally cool, like Jackie Kennedy in stylish shades and a smile. At age sixteen, Janice and her girlfriend Marty embarked on an adventure like no other. This photo was taken at the end of their journey.

The author describes her irresponsible parents’ neglect and abandonment in a few terse and jarring paragraphs. The sweet young Catholic girl is separated from her siblings and raised by her great-aunt Toots (whom she loves, but receives nothing from emotionally) and uncle Mac (the only beloved person and ally in her life, who dies suddenly when Janice is fifteen years old). This reminds me of John Lennon’s childhood abandonment and the death of his dear uncle George, when John was also fifteen.

Sadly, thinking that nobody in their families would miss them at all (Janice’s travel companion Marty is a child of divorce) the girls follow their hearts on a journey to England – to find the Beatles and to live there forever. Their agenda could not wait. They left for England while the Beatles were still in America, to get settled. The excitement of hearing the Beatles on the radio, and witnessing the audience’s hysteria live at a Cleveland concert could not be contained. Learning that the fab four frequented the clubs in Soho, Janice Marty make their move.

The sixteen-year-olds obtained passports and one-way airline tickets to London.

Days prior to leaving, Janice finds herself in a dressing-room encounter with the anti-Beatles (The Rolling Stones) thanks to a radio DJ. She ignores Mick Jagger’s degenerate declaration (basically stating that he “can’t get no satisfaction”) and unwittingly avoids potentially becoming Bill Wyman’s first child bride when she declines his invitation to get on the Stones’ American tour bus! Still, she vows to look for Bill when she gets to England.

The girls make it to London, rent an apartment in Holland Park near the tube (to easily get to Soho) and begin their adventure, mostly using a college fund of almost $2,000. Everything falls into place. They survive on Woolworths lunches and English delicacies with funny names, which they grow to love. They shop for stylish outfits, and meet two pair of boys (one of whom Janice falls in love with). The boys take them to all the coolest clubs (The Marquee, The Flamingo, The Crawdaddy, The Scene, and The 2 i’s Coffee Bar) where they dance until late at night. They hitchhike with their new boyfriends to Liverpool. Janice is sure that her letter asking to work for Brian Epstein would be answered.

Janice’s Catholic guilt intermittently haunts her. She has fond memories of Catholic school and particularly some favorite teachers. She visits a church in England, continuing to pray that things will be OK. I prayed right along with her, as one week in London turn into two weeks, then three…

The girls remain innocent and joyful. They occasionally wonder if they might be missed at home, but are oblivious to the international headlines and “missing” posters as the search for them widens to include local DJs, Scotland Yard and the Beatles themselves. The news clippings are printed throughout the book and on the back cover (the articles are at the beginning of each chapter). The headlines are amusing; Beatlemania Lures 2 Runaways to London, Girls Lost on Beatle Hunt, Search Beatles Lair for 2 Beatle Girls, Dream Trip Over, Believe Missing Girls Adrift in Beatleland…

 The girls finally witness the extent of their popularity when the press accost them, as they are transferred from the British Embassy to be returned to America.  I won’t spoil the details of their capture, only to say that their treatment by the British authorities was far more protective and polite. The “Beatle Girls” were given tea and several nice meals, and were assured that they had done nothing wrong. During their arrival back in Cleveland, they were treated very badly, and criminalized.

Back home in Cleveland, Janice is on total lockdown, forbidden to speak to her accomplice Marty. Most of all, Janice misses her British musician boyfriend. She only remembers his first name, Mick.

The most touching part of all, is that Janice dedicated the book to her great aunt Toots and uncle Mac, both of whom she loved deeply, after all.

A film needs to be made of this wonderful story, and I hear that one is now in progress! I highly recommend that everyone read the book first, as it is told in Janice’s innocent and sincere voice, with no regrets.

I can relate to this book because I had devised my own tactics over the years (with the help of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz) to make my way backstage to meet and befriend my idols, but this required none of the audacity and courage of Janice’s story about leaving the country and causing such an unwitting sensation.

My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland (A True Story from 1964)

by Janice Mitchell

 is available at

See Janice’s web site:


Also see my book:

In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono

By Madeline Bocaro

Visit Yoko’s inner and outer worlds,

her relationship with John Lennon, their love story and their work toward world peace.



One thought on “BOOK REVIEW:

  1. I think this is the most honest, compelling and interesting review I’ve read so far about this book. Can’t wait for the movie.

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