Beatlemania lives on, and the tribute band that grew out of the show of the same name continues to delight audiences around the world with their accurate portrayal of The Fab Four.
Originally an American production, Beatlemania! came to London’s West End and toured the country to great acclaim.
However, when the show’s tour ended, the four members of the band did not know exactly what to do – so they decided to carry on as The Bootleg Beatles and began touring in 1980.
The show grew in size and stature and The Bootleg Beatles are just about the best around at what they do.
So good in fact, that next summer they will be performing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at shows celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Before that, the band is undertaking a concert tour of Britain.
It goes without saying that the quartet of musicians has changed since 1980 and the current line-up is: Adam Hastings, who has been ‘John’ since 2011; Steve White, who became ‘Paul’ in 2012; and Stephen Hill and Gordon Elsmore, who became ‘George’ and ‘Ringo’ in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
For right-handed Steve, portraying left-handed Paul McCartney was not the easiest transition.
He says: “I’d been in a lot of 60’s bands, playing rhythm guitar and the band I was in sort-of ‘morphed’ into a Beatles tribute band.
“I ended up playing ‘John’, but people said I should really have been Paul as I looked more like him.”
“The thing is, I’m right handed. So what I did was learn all the parts on bass right-handed, then I bought a cheap bass and strung it left-handed and it went from there.”
Then the call came from The Bootleg Beatles.
Steve says: “I got a call from them to stand in for their bassist as he was sick, and this went on for a while, as the problem with the bassist kept re-occurring and when it was apparent he couldn’t carry on they asked me to do it full-time. So I didn’t audition, I sort-of did an apprenticeship.”
The show itself is in four sections.
“We do it in chronological order,” says Steve. “The first half of the show starts with us doing the mop-tops era, and then Sergeant Pepper as we introduce more musicians, so we can do songs like All You Need Is Love.
“After the interval, it’s the Magical Mystery era and then Abbey Road and the end of The Beatles’ career.”
And it is a full-time job keeping on top of the shows.
For example, previously unseen footage of The Beatles on tour was revealed in the recent Ron Howard film Eight Days a Week.
Steve says: “The research never ends really.
“There’s always new and better footage coming to light, which we all watch to get all the subtle nuances of their mannerisms.
“We never feel we’ve got it completely nailed and that keeps it fresh for us. We never become complacent.”
“We saw the film in Australia and we thought it was amazing.”
It is a hard life taking the show around the world, but is very rewarding.
“The tours are very gruelling and the schedules are quite punishing and we travel the world but never see it, but the connection you have with the audience more than makes up for it,” says Steve.
“We involve the audience as much as we can and when you see the room reacting with people singing and clapping, it’s very rewarding and fulfilling.”
Steve – a lifelong Beatles’ fan, sums up his role with the sentence.
“The music is just timeless and a great pleasure to play.”
The Bootleg Beatles will be appearing at Sheffield’s City Hall on Friday, December 16.
n For tickets, call 0114 278 9789 or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk
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