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Interview: STEVE WHITE

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Beatlemania is about to hit our shores all over again, 50 years after the most famous band in musical history landed on Australian soil.Obviously not the Fab Four themselves but a very good facsimile thereof, so to speak. There are many Beatles tribute bands doing the rounds but none quite as successful as The Bootleg Beatles. On the eve of their upcoming Australian tour, Rock Club 40 recently had the pleasure of speaking to the band’s ‘Paul McCartney’, singer and bass player Steve White. He told us that the band is ‘very excited’ about returning to Australia, where they always receive a warm welcome from fans. Steve filled me in on some of the history behind the Bootleg Beatles. “The band first started around about 1979,” he explains. “And the original four members first got chosen to do a show called Beatlemania. The original members were the British version of an American production in and around the London area and after that show came to a close, the four guys thought that they would stick together and it give it a blast on the road and see where they would land and they thought it would be for six months and nearly forty years later, the band is still going strong. Obviously of course with a few changes in the line-up but that was where the band originated from. I do believe that Andre who played George in the original band is a founding member and he is doing the Australian tour with us this year. That’s how the band started and it’s still going strong after all these years.”

Steve’s first public performance with the band happened as a result of their original ‘Paul McCartney’ taking ill. “I got a call to stand in for him,” he explains. “I remember it being quite nerve wracking at the time. They found me through You Tube, I believe. I was playing in a sixties covers band at the time and we did some Beatles stuff and performed as The Beatles for part of the show and someone obviously must have filmed it and put up a couple of our performances on You Tube. They obviously saw them and liked what they saw and asked me to fill in for their guy who was very ill and I said ‘Of course.’ Not long after that, I got the call that he was ill and could I stand in? It was all kind of accidental but good for me.” Not so good for the original Paul though but, as Steve explains, “I think he had a very long run in the band. “And obviously none of us are getting any younger and he got to the time when he felt that he just couldn’t do it. It’s rather a demanding role as Paul anyway and unfortunately as we get older, we just can’t maintain the stamina.” Although Steve has been fortunate to see Paul McCartney perform, he missed out on the Beatles era. “Sadly,” he concedes, “I was born on the back end of the Beatles’ career as a band together so I didn’t actually see them ‘live’. The best I got was the record collection from my father.”

While the show covers a broad range of Beatles songs, they obviously can’t play them all in the space of a few hours but they do try to showcase the main eras in the Beatles’ musical career. “It’s impossible to do the whole back catalogue,” he concedes. “But we do try to cover the key parts.” And while everyone has their personal favourite Beatles song, Steve admits that there are some songs that are, by and large, received better than others. “We tend to find that songs like ‘Hey Jude’ everyone sings along to. Everyone loves that song.Certainly when we’re playing with an orchestra and other musicians, we’re able to perform other songs that The Beatles couldn’t perform ‘live’ themselves and we are able to do songs like ‘All You Need is Love‘ which is another big audience participation singalong song and that’s always massive. Songs like that seem to really highlight the evening. But each and every song is a joy to perform. All being big fans of The Beatles, it’s a pleasure to play any Beatles song but when you get a reaction like that, you look forward to it even more.”

by Sharyn Hamey

Copyright © 2014 Sharyn Hamey. All Rights Reserved

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