Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, one word, sung three times, that captivated the world.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I’m talking about The Beatles.
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the legendary band’s arrival in the United States. The Beatles’ descent upon this country and the frenzied concerts in front of screaming and fainting teens, producing glass-shattering decibels, launched a new word: “Beatlemania.”
The Beatles had formed in 1960, and by 1963 they had released two songs that set the stage for their future and place in history. “She Loves You” was released as a single and contained the indelible refrain, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.” The hook was in. The song set a record in the United States. It was one of five Beatles songs that held the top positions on the U.S. music charts. “She Loves You” is the band’s No. 1-selling single and claims the right as the best-selling single of the 1960s.
The Beatles quickly released another song in 1963 called “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The song hit the charts but had to wait several weeks before surpassing “She Loves You.” Ultimately, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became the Beatles’ first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Top 100.
The stage was now set for the Beatles to cross the pond to make their grand appearance in America. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr arrived at New York City’s Kennedy Airport on Feb. 7, 1964. Two days later, they performed five songs on the famous “Ed Sullivan Show” in a VBS studio in Manhattan. A groundbreaking 76 million television viewers witnessed the group perform that evening. After that show, there was no turning back. The dye was cast.
The word “Beatlemania” was coined [exactly by whom is up for debate) in an attempt to define the hysteria produced by the group’s music, concerts, movies and heavy media promotion. All of this was complemented by Beatle products of every type. In addition to records (albums and singles), people could buy Beatle boots; Beatle wigs; posters; lunch boxes; John, Paul, George and Ringo dolls; mugs; pins; cards … you name it. If it was a product young people desired, merchandisers were more than happy to sell to this growing population of consumers.
“Beatlemania” eventually resulted in the group having to move their musical act from traditional theaters and music halls into sports stadiums. This was historically groundbreaking at the time; although stadium concerts have become quite commonplace these days, the trend began with the Beatles.
The group’s conquering of America’s shores kicked off a phenomenon known as the “British Invasion,” ushering in young musical acts including The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Animals and the Hollies. This second British Invasion was far kinder and more welcomed than the first one that started the Revolutionary War in 1775. In fact, an argument could be made that this second invasion was a healing force strengthening the bonds between England and the United States.
Even so, not everyone, especially adults, was receptive to this so-called “counterculture” music being embraced by young people across the planet. Some thought the Beatles were simply another teen idol passing fad. Still, others went public with their concerns about the “British Invasion.” On Dec. 29, 1963, The Baltimore Sun wrote an editorial that highlighted such concerns: “America had better take thought as to how to deal with the invasion. Indeed, a restrained ‘Beatles go home’ might be just the thing.”
In April 1970, after an amazing decade of industry-transforming music, movies and record-setting concerts, the Beatles officially disbanded, and each Beatle launched his own individual music career.
Enter the world of Beatles tribute bands and shows.
Although no one will ever again experience the Beatles live in concert, the tribute band and theatrical productions can bring you as close to the original experience as you can expect. Some tribute artists and bands may even approximate the Beatles visually, with a George Harrison look-alike, for example. As a rule, the top acts offer a very professional package. The replication of the Beatles songs is first-class. Many will change into “Beatle Garb,” which reflects the different seasons the Beatles went through musically. By combining the visuals with superb musicianship, these shows can be quite a crowd-pleasing event.
There are an estimated hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of Beatles tribute bands around the world. Some of the most well-known acts include The Fab Faux, The Fab Four, HELP! A Beatles Tribute, Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles and 1964 the Tribute. In addition to tribute bands, the Broadway musical production “Beatlemania,” which ran from 1977 to 1979, highlighted the music of the Beatles and the tumultuous events of the 1960s. The cast of “Beatlemania” is ever-changing, and the international appeal of the revue continues to this day.
The Beatles have been an integral part of Jon Perry’s life, both as a teen and an adult. Perry was born in Baltimore and grew up in Jessup, Maryland. He recently recounted the importance of the group’s influence and how his love of their music led to his current career as a Beatles tribute artist.
“My parents were the first, greatest impact on my musical life,” he told the Baltimore Post-Examiner. “My dad played music. He auditioned for Stevie Wonder in 1974 and was the drummer on a song called ‘Life’s Too Short’ featured in the ‘Hairspray’ movie. Coincidentally, my mom was a dancer on ‘The Buddy Deane Show.’ ‘Hairspray’ was largely based on ‘The Buddy Deane Show.’ ”
The popular teen dance program out of Baltimore first aired in 1957 on WJZ-TV. The movie “Hairspray” was released in 1988 and was heavily influenced by ‘The Buddy Deane Show’ experience and popular culture of the 1950s. Baltimore’s very own John Waters directed the cult classic, which went on to become a hit Broadway musical in 2007.
“Music was always around, though my parents rarely encouraged me to become a musician,” Perry said. “My aunts and uncles had the Beatles albums, and I learned how to play drums to the Beatles albums ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ as well as Paul McCartney’s album ‘Venus & Mars.’ ”
As a teenager, Perry played in local bands. He shared a picture of himself as a young, long-haired young man. It was one of those moment-in-time pics that would resonate with so many people who broke into the music world playing in a local garage band with friends. To most, those days are chalked up as fun memories. To Perry, those garage jam sessions were the launching pad for his full-time music career.
“The long journey in the tribute world began in 1995 with a local audition for Starleigh Entertainment. In 2001, I started my own Maryland-based band called Eight Days A Week. We played regularly, and at the same time, I was working with other tribute bands in the tri-state area,” Perry said. “I was typically the vocal musical director and keyboard orchestrator for these tribute acts. I played the character of Paul and John usually, and sometimes George. By 2005, I was playing shows internationally.”
Perry has performed for Angie and Ruth McCartney (Paul’s stepmother and sister, respectively), singers Martina McBride and Faith Hill, as well as celebrated journalist Larry Kane, who toured with the Beatles. With excitement and a deep sense of accomplishment, Perry recounted other musicians he has performed with.
“I shared the stage with Alan White, the John Lennon drummer on the “Imagine’ album, and played drums with the progressive rock band YES, original Beatles drummer Pete Best, America, Cheap Trick, Joey Molland of the band Badfinger and Max Weinberg, longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen”
After a three-day theater tour in August in Michigan and Illinois with The Reunion, a fantasy Beatles tribute, preceded by “a season of cruises with a Southern California group,” Perry is heading back to Maryland this month. “My next presentation of ‘The Music of Lennon & McCartney’ show will be on October 15 at Laurel Mill Playhouse in Laurel, Maryland,” he said.
“The Music of Lennon & McCartney” is described as a one-person show filled with sing-alongs and storytelling – a visually thrilling, crowd-pleasing celebration of the Beatles featuring songs from each of the band’s musical eras, along with selections from their solo years.
Perry’s upcoming performance on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. will be his third at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Previous gigs there – in January of this year and in June 2022 – sold out, and it looks like this latest one will as well. A very limited number of tickets might still be available; contact Laurel Mill Playhouse directly at:
To find out more about Perry and his performance schedule, check the following social media:
Facebook: Beatle Legends
After a 35-year career in the Global Supply Chain Logistics industry, Maryland native Bob Reilly, is enjoying his second career as an author, freelancer, and singer-songwriter. His first published book, “Rideshare by Robert,” is a collection of journalistic short-story essays covering a 7-year, 25,000-ride life journey. The book is available everywhere online with signed copies available directly through Bob or at his ongoing “Meet the Author” events. You can also explore his last four studio albums and singles on all your popular music streaming platforms. Albums and singles include, “Work in Progress,” Unexpected Ways,” Perfect Love,” “The Journey Home,” and “I Thank God for You,” a song written and recorded in 2022 for his daughter’s wedding.He is the band leader and promoter for The Reilly Goulait Band. Bob and his wife have adopted three children from China, Korea, and the Philippines. Their passion for adoption also extends to their many pets, including their current Husky, Shiloh.