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Interview: Melanie gets back to love for Beatles in New York tribute concert

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Melanie, who is known for several songs including “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and “Brand New Key,” will be among the performers at Saturday's “America Celebrates the Beatles” charity concert from NYCFab50 at New York's Town Hall Theater in Times Square. But as she said in a phone interview with Beatles Examiner she wasn't a Beatles fan from the beginning.

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“I was in high school and everybody else loved the Beatles. I was like an oddball. I was listening to Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and not the Beatles. But when I first discovered the Beatles was when they got more spiritual, and with the White Album and 'Revolution,' and then 'Abbey Road' and those albums. That's when they got me.”

She said Pete Seeger's recent passing affected her deeply.

“Even though a person is 94 years old, you say, 'What should be so shocking?' except he was bigger than life. We did a lot of different festivals together. In fact, the last time I saw him we were on stage together and we sang 'My Rainbow Race.' That's a song he co-wrote that I sang and recorded later. He did it completely different than I did it. The song really stands up to different treatments.”

Melanie was one of the artists on the “One to One Tribute” with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at Madison Square Garden in 1972. She recalls she was added at the last minute.

“They found out I was in New York and they called and asked if I would come down. Within 40 minutes I was at Madison Square Garden. John was very, um, flirtatious, just that kind of a vibe. He was very interested, anyway. And Yoko Ono gave me a black rose after the show. I didn't know what that meant. We sang 'Give Peace a Chance.'”

Like the Beatles, Melanie also appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” She said Sullivan was exceptionally supportive of her, even after an unusual incident when her fans came up on stage on the spur of the moment.

“He was very gracious. He totally seized the opportunity. My fans just came on stage and sat there. The stage manager's frantically trying to get them off. And he came out and said, 'No, no. These youths are just demonstrating their whatever. Peter, my husband, befriended Ed Sullivan, which was a pretty odd friendship because he was a pretty wild man with long hair and a beard. (Sullivan) just took to us. I was on the Sullivan show twice. He really did like me.”

Melanie was also among the among the performers at the iconic Woodstock festival, but she said she debated on whether to even be there.

“They were really promoting me in Europe. In fact, I was writing a film score for a film called 'All the Right Noises' with Olivia Hussey and Tom Bell. I said, 'Peter, I don't know if I should go. He said, 'Oh, no, you better go. Your mother will pick you up. I walked on that stage an unknown. I came off that stage a celebrity. I didn't get to go on till nighttime. The announcer made some inspirational announcement that the Hog Farm was passing out candles and everyone should keep the candles.

“I'm probably the only person at Woodstock who didn't smoke or ingest something. But that was me. I was a vegetarian. I was a purist. I didn't hang out with the big stars because I didn't know anybody.”

She said that at “America Celebrates the Beatles,” she'll do her version of “Let It Be.” “With a pounding reprieve of 'All You Need Is Love,'” she adds. “Definitely my version. It's a very beautiful song. I never did record that.”

Her most recent album, "Ever Since You Never Heard of Me," is available through her website,

Also on the bill for “America Celebrates the Beatles” are Al Jardine, Tommy James, Melissa Manchester, Greg Hawkes of the Cars, Marshall Crenshaw, Gene Cornish of the Rascals, Fred Schneider of the B-52s and many more. More information on the show is here.

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