Ron Onesti: The Beatles, 'Yesterday' and today
Although I was born in 1962, around the time the Beatles were just getting going, I have been a lifelong fan of the group. But as I got a bit older, I questioned this phenomenon myself. How could I as a preteen be excited about a group that pretty much rose and fell between the time I was born through my eighth birthday?
I'm an Italian American from Taylor Street, Chicago's "Little Italy." The '60s were about Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and the Four Seasons in my neighborhood. We watched Woodstock on the news, and experienced the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the "Ed Sullivan Show." But my older cousins were all about cramming in front of the black-and-white television to watch Jones grind his way into their hearts.
I think my first real Beatles awareness came from my favorite afternoon TV show at the time, "The Monkees." There were obvious parallels between the two bands -- the four guys, the haircuts. One of the Monkees even had an English accent. At the time I thought the Monkees were an actual parody of the almighty Beatles. Hmmm, maybe they were!
Then, as a freshman at Weber High School in Chicago, I would get a ride home from a junior who lived across the street from me. So as my buddies would pack a CTA bus with their heavy canvas drawstring bags (backpacks were only for Boy Scouts back then), I would ride home in my friend's souped-up midnight blue Camaro. The only two eight-track cassettes we listened to every day were Cream (Eric Clapton's band) and Paul McCartney's "Wings Over America" live album. "Band On The Run" blasted from our open windows. Didn't matter that it was 10 degrees outside. We were cool enough to stay warm.
Wings became one of my favorite bands and taught me much about the Beatles.
It was at a time when the "other" three Beatles guys' solo careers were also taking off. Did you know that Ringo has released 18 solo albums and gave us some great songs, including "Photograph" and "It Don't Come Easy"?
John Lennon gave us "Imagine" and "Give Peace A Chance." George, a Traveling Wilbury, left us with the triple album "All Things Must Pass" and the song "My Sweet Lord."
Then, there was Sir Paul.
Society kept getting "Beatled" even after the breakup.
1980 saw the tragic loss of John. "Beatlemania" once again ensued.
So even though I wasn't officially a part of the initial British Invasion, the first 18 years of my life were consistently "peppered" with Beatledom.
Incidentally, I did a bit of research and found that the year of my birth was huge for the Beatles. They began the year of 1962 by signing with Brian Epstein as their manager. They auditioned for George Martin at Abbey Road Studios in June. In August, Ringo Starr officially replaced Pete Best behind the drums.
The band released their first official single, "Love Me Do," in October of 1962, with "P.S. I Love You" on the "B" side of that 45 rpm record. The record was followed by another single release a month later, "Please Please Me," with "Ask Me Why" on the reverse side.
The band also made their debut on UK television in 1962, with many more appearances to follow.
Now, 50-plus years later, the Beatles are STILL as popular as ever. And their songs, both band and solo selections, are ones I sing the loudest to. Their relevance continues to resound strong, and they are reaching new generations every day.
Their music is timeless, their messages are ageless. For me, I still believe in the Beatles. I believe in "Yesterday."
This weekend, Branson, Missouri's biggest act, the Liverpool Legends, celebrate 50 years of the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album, plus other hits at my venues, Evanston Rocks! on Saturday and The Arcada on Sunday. For info, go to oshows.com or call (630) 962-7000.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.