FROM their beginnings back in 1980, The Bootleg Beatles have become a star attraction all over the world with their excellent recreations of Beatles’ songs.
The original West End hit show ‘Beatlemania’ ended in 1980 and the four musicians who made up the band thought that they could go on to fill a gap, and continue to perform the Lennon and McCartney hits.
The band also met a real-life Beatle when they played at Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party, where they met George Harrison who said “you probably know the chords better than I do.”
Praise indeed, and he went on to give them some tips on the chords to Free as a Bird, the first Beatles single in 25 years.
They are so good that Mojo magazine says they are “flawless”. And BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans describes them as “off-the-scale fabulous”.
Original ‘John Lennon’ Neil Harrison left the band in 2011 and his place was taken by Adam Hastings who tells me how he got the job.
“I’d been doing Beatles’ music before, in the US, England and Germany,” the 27-year-old Geordie says.
“Then when I found out that Neil was leaving I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.”
“The problem was that I was away touring at the time and couldn’t attend the auditions; so I send a tape in. When I got back, I found that it was between me and another bloke, but we both played with the band and I got the nod.”
He then prepared meticulously.
“I watched everything I could with John Lennon, picking up his style of playing and stage mannerisms.”
And he is a life-long fan of the band.
“I’ve always loved The Beatles, but as a band. I wasn’t a fan of any particular one. The band stuff is better than the solo work.”
The music of The Beatles has endured over 50 years now, and Adan is on no doubt why it has remained popular.
“It’s a simple answer really, it’s the best – there’s no other way of looking at it.”
He continues. “It was a magic thing, they were the best songwriters, amazing singers and each member of the band had a different personality. It was a happy accident – they were unique.”
The current line-up of The Bootleg Beatles is as follows: Adam is John, Steve White has been Paul since 2011 whilst Stephen Hill became George last year.
The old-hand in the band is drummer Hugo Degenhardt, who has been Ringo since 2003, as well as working with the likes of Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Rod Stewart.
The show itself is in four, sometimes five, parts.
“Yes, there’s the Mop Top years, and we got Dougie and Gordon Millings – who tailored The Beatles clothes from 1963 to 1970 – to make the suits.
“Then, there’s the Hard Day’s Night section, followed by Sgt Pepper and the later years in which I wear the famous white suit and a long wig.”
And what about the gaps when the band are changing?
“Well, we have it to a fine art now and it only takes about a minute and a half to change, but we also have a multi-media presentation on stage with archive footage setting the scene.
“It’s so good that I wish I could watch it,” he quips.
So the band does the whole career of The Beatles, from Please Please Me to Let it Be, but does Adam have his own favourites?
“First of all, there’s my favourite album – A Hard Day’s Night, I think it’s the coolest and sounds more ‘Beatle-y’.
“To play live, I’d have to say that ‘I Am The Walrus’ as it’s got a string section with it – it’s phenomenal.”
The authenticity of the recreations is one of the reasons why The Bootleg Beatles have taken their show around the world and this has provided Adam with some great memories.
“Yes,” he says laughing. “We were playing in Mongolia of all places, to about 8,000 people. They didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any Mongolian, but they knew the words to every song.
“That’s the legacy of The Beatles.”
The Bootleg Beatles will be appearing at:
Victoria Theatre, Halifax – Tuesday March 24
Royal Hall, Harrogate – Wednesday March 25
Barbican, York – Thursday March 26
St George’s Hall, Bradford – Thursday December 10.
Visit http://www.bootlegbeatles.com/ for details.