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Interview: Producer says NYC Beatles tribute at Apollo Theater was 'magic'

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Among the events celebrating the Beatles' 50th anniversary were a series of shows organized by NYC Fab 50, and co-producer Charles Rosenary told Beatles Examiner in an interview he was especially happy with "Twist & Shout: New York Celebrates The Beatles” Feb. 6 at the Apollo Theater, which he said turned out to be a cultural melting pot of music styles.

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“All the shows were great, but the Apollo one was the most classy and, well, magical,” Rosenay said. “Everything about it was perfect from both a fan's point of view and for me as the producer: the artists, the venue and the crowd reaction.”

He said before the show, the stars were reminiscing about playing in the historic venue. For some, it was a reunion of old friends.

Fox News host Geraldo Rivera opened the evening with some personal thoughts and recollections of the Beatles, especially John Lennon, and read a message to the audience from Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

The roster of music was plentiful and varied:

  • An acoustic version of “You Really Got a Hold On Me” by Guitar Charlie and Two of Us performing “Please Mr. Postman.”
  • Vocalist Samantha Landrum sang “Tell Me Why,”
  • Rosanna Vitro and pianist Roger Kellaway with “Here Comes the Sun” and “In My Life.”
  • Margaret Ross Williams from the '60s group The Cookies sang her group's hit “Chains” followed by “Baby It's You.”
  • Barbara Harris from the Toys performed “A Lover's Concerto” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”
  • Roger Kellaway returned for “Here There and Everywhere” and joined singer Emily West for “Golden Slumbers” and her own “Why Do Lovers Leave.”
  • Kitoto Von Hebb, daughter of Bobby Hebb, who opened for the Beatles, sang her father's hit “Sunny” in her debut performance.
  • Actor Danny Aiello and rapper Hassan mixed crooning and hip-hop on “Let It Be.”
  • Barrence Whitfield with “I'm Down” and “Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)”
  • Graham Alexander with a solo piano and vocal version of “Oh Darling.”
  • Songwriter Franke Previte with “Time of My Life” (from “Dirty Dancing”) and “Yesterday”
  • Lloyd Price with “Stagger Lee” and the Beatles' “Hey Jude.”
  • Bettye LaVette with “Blackbird” and “Eleanor Rigby.” (She also talked about recently performing with Ringo.
  • Meghan Linsey with “Don't Let Me Down” and “Something.”
  • Lulu” with “To Sir With Love” and “Shout.” She talked about her friendship with the Beatles.
  • Gary U.S. Bonds” with “This Little Girl,” “Quarter To Three” and “It's Only Love.”
  • Mary Wilson sang “You Can't Hurry Love” and John Lennon's “Imagine.”
  • Leslie Uggams performed a jazz rendition of “Yesterday,” which included a refrain from her own song “Yesterdays.” She also talked about performing at the Paramount Theater charity concert with the Beatles in 1964.
  • For the finale, everyone joined in on “All You Need Is Love.”

“Some of my favorite bits were when the artists talked onstage about their memories of The Beatles before performing,” Rosenay said. “It was especially enlightening hearing Leslie Uggams talk about New York's Paramount Theater show. It seems first-generation fans recall the Shea Stadium concerts best, some even remember Carnegie Hall or Forest Hills but it's rare if anyone has any memories or stories of the only charity concert Brian let The Beatles do.”

There were two special presentations: One was to Gary Millar and Wendy Simon, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, England from the producers of NYC Fab 50 on behalf of the city of New York. Later in the evening, NYC Fab 50 producers Rosenay, Daniel Levine, Patrice Samara and Dennis D'Amico received a commendation from the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

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