Beatles invade Springfield: Beatle sister brings Liverpool Legends to the stage
Nearly 50 years ago, the Beatles released their debut album, “Please Please Me,” worldwide. Now, on the golden anniversary of its release, Beatles fans from far and wide gathered together to experience the Beatles once again, or the closest thing to them.
Saturday, Sept. 14, Louise Harrison, sister of the late George Harrison, presented Liverpool Legends at Donnie’s Homespun in Springfield. The band, composed of Kevin Mantegna as John Lennon, Bob Beahon as Paul McCartney, Marty Scott as George Harrison, and Greg George as Ringo Starr, were hand chosen by Louise Harrison with authenticity in mind.
“It was lucky, really, because there were so many Beatle bands all over the world, that it was easy to find out which bands had the best [musicians],” said Louise Harrison. “And it wasn’t too difficult to persuade them to come and be in my band.”
Louise Harrison’s association with the tribute group gives them an edge that other groups do not, a direct biological link and personal experience with the original four.
“I didn’t actually tour with them, but I was at many of the concerts because I was doing daily Beatle reports on radio stations all across the country,” said Louise Harrison.
Playing such hits as “Please Please Me,” “Love Me Do,” and “All My Love,” the group gave audience members a snapshot into the past. Beatles fan and UIS alumnus, William Furry, said that if they closed their eyes, “most people in the audience were transported back to the 60s.
“And the fascinating thing is that it took five years of our lives, as teenagers, to experience that, and we got it back in two hours. It’s just like everything was distilled into that evening,” he added.
And they did just that. The Grammy-nominated group, praised for their attention to detail, was truly “the real deal.” From their precise live music, to their genuine look, Liverpool Legends highlighted the best of the Beatles. The group’s friendly banter on stage and audience interaction was like something out of “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“I think it was what you might have expected from a Beatles concert… you [had] costumes, you [had] accuracy to the musical repertoire, you [had] faithfulness to the harmonies, you [had] all those things that are important to a Beatles tribute band,” explained Furry.
Adding to the celebration, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Beatle on American soil, George Harrison.
“I had moved to southern Illinois, to the United States, in 1963, in March, and I was living in a town called Benton, down in the south…,” said Louise Harrison. “George came in September, I think the 14th, and he came to visit me. At that point in time, he became the first Beatle to step foot in the United States…”
She continued to explain that during his time here George had the opportunity to play with The Four Vests at a local VFW hall. “He got up on stage, very impromptu, and sang a couple songs… historically, he became the first Beatle to actually perform live in the United States,” she said.
Louise Harrison hopes to leave audiences with this message, much as the Beatles did through their music. “As far as I know… [this is] the first time a historical marker has been given for something like a very, very kind and gentle musician… If we’re starting to maybe, start a trend, where we’re commemorating things that are good, rather than things that are bad, maybe there will be hope for the human race.”