The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 26, 2013

Last call for Liverpool in Branson

By Dave Woods
Digital market development manager

BRANSON, Mo. — Marty Scott is ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' British invasion.

Scott portrays George Harrison, guitarist and songwriter for The Beatles. Harrison is best known for his songs "Here Comes the Sun" and "While my Guitar Gently Weeps."

The accomplished guitarist's songs and instrumental talents are featured during "Liverpool Legends: The Complete Beatles Experience."

Scott understands why the show, produced by Harrison's sister, Louise, and music of The Beatles is so warmly welcomed by American audiences almost 50 years after the Fab Four's invasion of the U.S. The Beatles' big break came in February 1964 during a broadcast of "The Ed Sullivan Show." After that the group skyrocketed into international fame, becoming entertainment legends.

"There's a story to tell, and the music holds up today when you hear it," said Scott, following a performance of the group's tribute show at Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson. "It still sounds fresh. Somehow, they have always been able to transcend the generations. There's no other group that did that."

Scott said he thinks it's amazing that the songs still resonate today with kids of all ages.

"There were kids at the show today that were probably 10 years old," he said. "There is no other group in history that's done that. The Rolling Stones really didn't. Elvis really didn't. The Beatles somehow are like the Eighth Wonder of the World. What makes the show cool is that a 10-year-old kid can rock out with his grandparents. You are not supposed to like your grandparents' music. You know what I mean? It's what makes it cool to me."

Longtime friend Kevin Mantegna embodies songwriter John Lennon. Greg George takes on Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and Bob Beahon channels the character of Paul McCartney. The group takes the stage at the Moon River in Branson through Aug. 10.

The show chronicles the lads from Liverpool's rise to international fame and global cultural influence. From mop-topped youths to '70s rockers, the group flexes its influence on popular music, even today.

Beatles songs have been covered time and time again. The songs are still jukebox favorites, digitally downloaded by multiple generations of Americans and music fans around the world. In 2014 the Liverpool Legends, along with millions of fans, will celebrate 50 years of Beatlemania.

Missouri connection

Scott said he and his fellow band mates fell into The Beatles tribute act business by accident.

"Me and the guy who plays John (Lennon), who is a childhood friend, kind of stumbled into it," he said. "I didn't even think you could do that. I had been in all different kind of groups and every kind of cover band under the sun. We always played a lot of Beatles songs. We fell into this little group in Chicago that was a Beatles act playing restaurants and small gigs."

One of the band members was hurt and unable to perform.

"We ended up doing some shows with them and it kind of completed this thing," he said. "There's this guy that kind of looks like John and this guy that kind of looks like Paul, and it just snowballed really fast."

The next thing they knew, Scott said, the four were flying with their Gibson guitars to Japan, where they stayed in nice hotels.

"We used to do the all-share-a-room kind of thing when we were doing original music," he said, laughing. "Then we were suddenly in nice five-star hotels with our own rooms. We thought: 'Maybe this is what we should be doing.' We never looked back."

Scott said the group is looking forward to 2014 and the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' invasion of America. He said there is even a Missouri connection. The Fab Four played a concert in Kansas City during their first American tour. The group also spent time vacationing in the Show-Me State.

"This coming year is the anniversary of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (appearance)," he said. "Feb. 9 is going to be huge. It's the biggest date ever because that's when they pretty much exploded in this country. What a lot of people don't know is that they came (to Missouri). The first Beatle in America was actually George. He came to visit Louise before they did 'The Ed Sullivan Show.'"

It's a unique story that not a lot of people know about, Scott said.

"They actually came through and spent a couple days off at this guy's ranch near Alton (Mo.)," said Scott. "They stayed at the Pigman Ranch, so that is pretty crazy. They were taking a vacation in Missouri. It was some rich farmer and they rode horses at his ranch. That is coming up, so we're playing at that actual ranch at a festival there this September."

The group is excited about what the coming year offers.

"The Beatles anniversary in this coming year is going to be the biggest explosion of stuff," he said. "We just kind of want watch it all happen. For some reason it's bigger now than it was then, and it's almost 50 years later. It's the magic of The Beatles."