As a life-long Beatles fan with a rather large collection of Beatles memorabilia in hand and/or locked away in storage I do have one regret. I was too young to ever experience The Beatles LIVE and in concert. It wasn't until I turned 49 years of age that I realized a boyhood dream when I attended a Paul McCartney concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Luckily for Beatles fans like myself we do have some incredible “tribute” acts that tour the country and the world. Right here in Southern California we are privileged to have more than one tribute act geared towards honoring those lads from that far off land called Liverpool England. The most famous of those tribute acts originated here in Los Angeles back in 1997. The Fab Four have toured the country and the world. They are considered by many to be THE most faithful and talent tribute band of their type to ever grace a stage. The band members have changed over the years but today are headlined by it's founding member Ron McNeil as John Lennon, Ardavan Sarraf as Paul McCartney, Erik Fidel as Ringo Starr and the only true Liverpudlian in the band, Gavin Pring as George Harrison.
Saturday night on Feb 22, 2014 The Fab Four played the beautifully restored Art Deco Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. I have only experienced the Fab Four on one other occasion but as before they did not disappoint their very enthusiastic crowd. As a Live Band these four talented musicians are spot on with their playing and singing those very familiar Beatles harmonies. Probably more important than all of that, they are four very nice guys.
I had the chance to sit down with them before the Saban Theater show for a short Q&A and so...this is how it went:
Q - (SG) What's life like for the members of the Fab Four in this magical year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles U.S. television appearance on Ed Sullivan?
A- (Erik) “BUSY! We got to do a lot of cool things in NY. We were also in DC on the anniversary of the legendary Washington Coliseum show.”
(Ardy/Ron) “We are thrilled and so enthusiastic to play Beatles songs every night, however the 50th Anniversary of Ed Sullivan show has re focused the worlds attention on them and those of us paying tribute to them.”
(Gavin) “Life has been very, very hectic these past few months for the Fab Four, it's been a crazy build up to the actual date (February 9th) and we found ourselves pretty close to the location on the night... So we added the actual three songs that the Beatles performed live on the Ed Sullivan show to our regular show and they went down a Rory Storm with the New England audiences...
In fact this whole year is shaping up to be a great year for us and we're just dead happy to know that the Beatles are as relevant and as popular today as they were "all those years ago."
Q- (SG) Are there any songs in the Lennon/McCartney or Lennon or McCarteny or Harrison catalog that are particularly fun to play on stage?
A – (Ardy/Ron) “For every face in the crowd we see with a smile, the more we know we're doing the right thing. You'd be hard pressed to find 4 guys who play everything LIVE on stage and never let up for being as perfect as we can, that's what The Fab Four has always thrived on. Detail. We are some of the biggest Beatles fans around. We always wanted to be the band that WE ourselves would enjoy seeing. I think we did just that. Always learning, always pushing each other to be better.”
(Erik) “It's always fun playing "specialty shows" where we do a lot of different and unusual material. I personally have fun w/ Day in the Life.”
(Gavin) “Oh yeah, my favorite part of the show is when we perform some of George's songs in a medley... It's particularly interesting because Ron and Ardy are no longer on the stage... lol.”
Q- (SG) What is it like for you as musicians to step out on that stage and play this iconic music that audiences know so well and love?
A- (The Fab Four) “It never gets old bringing this amazing music to people every night! How can you go wrong playing The Beatles and seeing smiles ear to ear?”
(Gavin) “It's the best feeling in the world!!! You know, we can never be the Beatles but for a few short minutes we all forget our problems and we can see the audience singing every word and those songs just bring so much joy to people... it truly is magical...”
Q- (SG) OK...one last question: When your not playing or rehearsing for Fab Four performances or shows, what kind of music do you like?
(Erik) “A shuffled playlist on my iPod can be anything from big band to funk to 80s punk rock! One of my favorite groups besides The Beatles is Radiohead (also Brits).”
(Ardy/Ron) “Easy one finally! Ha. Ron is a huge MONKEES , JELLYFISH, DURAN DURAN fan. I (Ardy) love QUEEN, KISS, MOTOWN. Separately a few of us also have written and continue to write original music. Who knows, one day maybe we'll put some together as a band.”
(Gavin) “Wow, great question, I don't listen to the Beatles all the time because you know, we do it for a living so it's gotta stay fresh but in my spare time I'll listen to Oasis (best Beatles tribute band ever), Crowded House and Neil Finns solo career, The Verve, everyone knows "Bitter sweet Symphony" but they had some great album tracks as well and err lastly, a duo no one knows called Ezio... Basically an acoustic duo that tours the UK singing about love and loss... very uplifting!!”
As this writer has often said many times when asked about The Fab Four, the old tag line for that late 1970's Broadway stage show Beatlemania should be resurrected as, “The Fab Four...not The Beatles but an incredible simulation.”