On Feb. 9, 1964, America was introduced to The Beatles when they took the stage on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Half a century later, their songs are still topping charts, their fan base keeps growing, and the ladies are still screaming.
The Beatles’ legacy is clearly still rocking.
Few embody this legacy more than The Fab Four, a California-based Beatles tribute band paying (and playing) homage to the original mop tops. The tribute band performs Beatles music throughout the world and will make a stop Jan. 17 at Mesa Arts Center.
Ron McNeil, who plays John Lennon, formed the band in 1997. Other members include Ardy Sarraf as Paul McCartney, Erik Fidel playing Ringo Starr, and Garvin Pring as George Harrison.
“It’s the greatest job in the world. It’s not digging ditches, that’s for sure,” McNeil says. “It really is a great honor, to be performing all of that great music and bringing that music to life for so many people.”
He says The Fab Four’s show provides original Beatles fans the opportunity to relive the experience of seeing them live, and offers newer ones a glimpse of the past. McNeil says the band has gone to great lengths to create an authentic show.Sarraf, naturally right-handed, learned to play left-handed like McCartney. Fidel wears a prosthetic nose in order to capture Ringo’s look. McNeil had to learn a few new instruments and pick up John’s “bounce” on stage.
“The first time we tried it, my back was hurting for a month,” McNeil says.
McNeil says he learned harmonica and keyboard to play John’s parts, and mentions The Fab Four is the only four-piece Beatles group in the world that plays all of their music live.
“There’s no backing tracks, no tapes, no secret guy hiding behind the curtains playing other parts,” McNeil says. “We had to learn a bunch of different things, various string and horn parts, and keyboard, that John didn’t necessarily play, all for the show.”He said
The group’s show covers all eras of The Beatles, from their first appearances in America, a la “Twist and Shout,” to their psychedelic Sgt. Pepper days, and, finally, the band’s break up. McNeil says his favorite part of performing is watching people’s faces light up.“All of us on stage, we’re all fans of the Beatles. And the people who come to see us are fans of the Beatles, so watching everybody from little kids all the way up to grandmothers know all the words to all that great music, that’s what makes it worth it,” he says.
He said their fan base ranges from people who grew up listening to The Beatles, to their kids and grand kids.
“As long as people want peace and love in the world, they’ll continue to listen to the music, “ he said. And as for the screaming ladies?
“The girls still scream, they’re just a little older now.”
If you go
What: The Fab Four perform a live tribute to The Beatles
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17
Where: Mesa Arts Center, One Main St., Mesa
Information: (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com