I wasn't alive in 1964 when the Beatles first came to America. I never got to see the Ed Sullivan show or hear my parents talk about those awful boys from Liverpool and their long hair.
In fact I never really cared that much for the Beatles. I was 12 years old when John Lennon died. I never cried or burned a candle. All I did was shrug my shoulders and sign up for junior league football.The Beatles never meant more to me than a bunch of songs that have almost become cliched from being overplayed.
But on Saturday night in the Utah Valley Community College basketball arena, for the first time in my life, the Beatles came alive. And it happened when I watched the Beatles impersonators, 1964, do their stuff.
Unlike other Beatles nostalgia bands, 1964 doesn't try to eulogize or "remember" the Beatles. Instead, 1964 is bent on "keeping the music alive," as John Lennon impersonator Mark Benson said during the show.
The group, made up of Benson, Gary Grimes as Paul McCartney, Bob Miller as George Harrison and Greg George as Ringo Starr, does everything short of plastic surgery to show the audience what it was like to attend a Beatles concert in 1964.
In a 1989 interview, Benson told the Deseret News that the group went to a lot of trouble to make sure they were as close to the original Beatles as possible. The group watched every foot of videotape available on the Beatles and even hired the same British tailor who outfitted the original Beatles.
"We wanted to do the best job possible. The Beatles were one of the most important groups of all time, and a lot of people are frightened of clone groups," Benson said. "You only have to see one bad Elvis impersonator to have your good memories clouded forever."
(Ironically, the warmup act for 1964 was one bad Elvis impersonator. My only consolation for
CONCERT those in attendance is to remind them that the guy only did five songs. Yes, it was about four songs too many, but hey, even Elvis had his off nights.)
When 1964 began, it was evident that the group had done its homework and that we weren't listening to lip syncs. The group has been together as 1964 since 1985 and, through thorough study and practice, has become even more of the Beatles than the Beatles.
For one thing, the size of the speakers has given the group a lot more power than the original Beatles. On their first American tour, the Beatles were almost drowned out by screams. In 1992, the group 1964 left my ears ringing for more than four hours after the show.
What surprised me the most about the concert, however, was the cross-section of the audience. The crowd ranged from grade-school children to graying adults. And at times it was the adults who made the most noise. The best description of the audience I heard all night came from a teenager who was part of a crowd that rushed the stage at the first of the show.
"Cripes! We got parents down here," he said dodging a fan with gray in his beard.