BeatleMania LIVE is so realistic in sight, sound, and characterizations of the Fab Four, that spectators often ask the band members how they lip-sinc the songs so well. It's called BeatleMania LIVE because it's LIVE! I think this show is the closest thing one can get today ta actually recreatin' what a real Beatles concert was like back in those golden years of the height of their popularity. Enjoy the following...


eye WEEKLY                                            November 02 1995 

Toronto's arts newspaper             every Thursday 


MUSIC BITS                                                  MUSIC BITS 

An exclusive chat with the cast members of BeatleMania Live


JOHN PRESTON ("Ringo Starr")

Hometown: Hartford, Conn.
Best-loved Beatles song: "Strawberry Fields Forever"
Beatles song most befuddled by: "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"

The senior member of BeatleMania Live, Preston has been part of the act ever since it was revived a decade ago from the ashes of the original Beatlemania stage show. However, he's quick to point out the difference between this group and the lawsuit-laden production that started in the mid-'70s.

"At that time, you've gotta remember there was still a chance of the four Beatles getting back together. John Lennon even gave a court deposition saying they were planning to get back together to make a documentary around 1985. Plus, those Beatlemania producers were pretty crooked. They put out a soundtrack album and a movie and merchandise -- stuff that we're obviously not gonna get involved in doing." Preston does not wear rings on his fingers when performing as Ringo, claiming that its impractical when playing the drums for two hours every single night. "But," he deadpans in the inimitable Starkey style, "I usually have ring around the collar."

"For a few years Ringo had his hair tied back and was wearing these big sunglasses all the time. I was hoping he wasn't sick or something," Preston says of his real-life counterpart. "He's been looking a lot better lately, a lot more distinguished. Still, there are a lot of fans out there who can't cope with the idea of the Beatles getting old."

JIMMY OWEN ("George Harrison")

Hometown: Los Angeles
Best-loved Beatles song: "I Feel Fine"
Beatles song most befuddled by: "Wild Honey Pie"

"I am pretty quiet," Owen assures us. "Yeah, I seem to get along pretty well with the George character."

While classically trained in piano, he picked up the guitar at age 8 for the express purpose of learning Beatles songs. Owen does not know how to play the sitar, but figures it'd be "fun" to learn how.

Owen has a highly coveted videotape of the episode of Joanie Loves Chachi where the gang is paid a visit by a git who's a dead ringer for Paul McCartney -- played by Mitch Weissman, of Beatlemania's original Broadway cast -- and, in true sitcom fashion, the possibility that the guy is not really Paul doesn't dissuade Joanie and Chachi from jamming with him on "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

ROBERT "MAC" RUFFING ("Paul McCartney")

Hometown: Cleveland
Best-loved Beatles song: "All My Loving"
Beatles song most befuddled by: "Revolution #9"

He's called "Mac" because of his middle name, MacKenzie -- the fact that Ruffing boasts more than a passing resemblance to Paul McCartney is pure coincidence. But, five years ago in Japan, Ruffing found a Hofner bass identical to Macca's and learned how to play the thing left-handed, just because it looks wrong pointing in any other direction.

He admires the "fantastic charisma" consistently displayed by his real-life counterpart on his recent tours and admires Paul's "shrewd" business sense. Yet Ruffing remains an unrepentant meat eater.

Last summer, these faux Fabs had a booking in Providence, R.I., and each member arrived at their hotel separately from their respective home bases. When Ruffing reached the front desk, he identified himself as Mac from BeatleMania Live. "Oh, Ringo's staying here too!" the perky desk clerk remarked. Assuming she was referring to the pseudo Ringo, Mac asked for his room number. "Absolutely not!" recoiled the clerk. Turns out the real Ringo was staying there, on a stopover with his All-Starr Band. (Later, when they saw the genuine article in the lobby, Ringo didn't pay much attention to anyone, but that's because he was probably scurrying off to Boston to visit his daughter in the hospital. The BeatleMania guys did get to talk to Ringo's bandmate, Let It Be co-star Billy Preston, though.)

RON McNEIL ("John Lennon")

Hometown: Los Angeles
Best-loved Beatles song: "Yesterday"
Beatles songs most befuddled by: Any George Harrison sitar wig-out ("Love You To," "Within You, Without You," "The Inner Light")

The youngest member of BeatleMania Live, McNeil is the latest to pass through what's been an occasionally revolving door. Although all four are guarded about revealing exactly how old they are, the act's age policy does seem somewhat less stringent than Menudo's.

As the most tenacious Beatle record collector of the bunch, McNeil has a couple of Yoko Ono platters -- and while he doesn't share Lennon's dogged appreciation of her musical warblings, he can do a dead-on impersonation of Yoko's geese-like exhalations that's almost as precise as the Lennon imitation he does on stage.

McNeil admits his adolescence wasn't nearly as turbulent as John Lennon's. "My parents forced me to learn how to play golf, but I really didn't want to," he brays. "I guess that's as rough as the story of my childhood gets."


Hosting by WebRing.