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Band channels bit of '60s

The Fab Four impersonators re-create the band of 1964, down to the suits, instruments and haircuts.

[Times photo: Brian Tietz]
1964 ... The Tribute is a Beatles cover band.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- They've been going in and out of style, but the four musicians impersonating the Beatles Saturday at Rock Crusher Canyon managed to raise a smile and a hip shake or two from the baby boomer audience.

1964 . . . The Tribute paid homage to the Beatles, whose members charmed and then ruled the music world that year. Billed as the top Beatles tribute group in the world, 1964 dressed, looked and acted like the real Fab Four.

These were the lunch box Beatles. The Ed Sullivan Beatles. Not the eggmen, the walrus or even the coo-coo c'choo Beatles.

They probably even sounded better than the Beatles, because the wild screaming that drowned out most of the band's shows was absent and the Rock Crusher Canyon speaker system was unlike anything the Beatles played through nearly 40 years ago.

Working their way through two sets, 1964 showcased some of the early Beatles hits, such as I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me and Till There Was You.

1964 bounded on stage with the same energy the Beatles had at Shea Stadium, with John giving the audience the nervous, slightly awkward wave captured on film.

The audience was mostly composed of middle-age people who fondly remembered the days when they heard the Beatles on the radio. Many brought their children to show them that there was a time when baby boomers also listened to music which drove their parents crazy.

As the audience began to warm up to the music, songs such as Love Me Do, It Won't Be Long and All My Loving got many in the audience dancing. Some young people in the audience, surprised at seeing their moms and dads getting up to dance, were quick to grab video cameras to record the moment.

"They yell at me to turn the music down, but look at them now," said Brent Wilson, watching his mother, Angela, dance something that at one time may have been called the Funky Chicken. The Wilsons came from Spring Hill to view the show.

Many in the audience were happy just to listen to the music and reminisce. Among them was Bob Weiss, who is a Crystal River physician and an avid Beatles fan. Weiss sat with a group of friends, singing the words to every song.

The band members of 1964 wore the famous charcoal gray tailored suits, the high-heeled black boots and the even more-famous mop top hairstyles. On Please Please Me, Paul and George shared a mike to shout and shake their hair to the refrain of "Come on, come on . . . come on, come on," much to the crowd's delight.

The faux Fab Four also matched the Beatles' instruments, down to the Vox amplifiers and George Harrison's black Gretsch guitar. They played mostly songs performed by the Beatles on their concert tours of 1964 and 1965. One minor miscue, known only after the release of the Beatles CD 1, emerged from the show. 1964 performed Eight Days a Week, but according to the liner notes of 1, the song was never performed in concert by the Beatles.

Still, more than 20 years since the day Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, the sounds of Can't Buy Me Love, Nowhere Man and I'll Follow The Sun worked their familiar magic to reach across time and space to unite the crowd.

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