For Clark Gilmore it was destiny he took on the role of one of the Beatles.
The son of a successful Beatles impersonator, — his father played Paul McCartney — Gilmore has transformed into the role of John Lennon for the international theatrical concert show Beatlemania On Tour — The Beatles Experience. The show is coming to Penticton at the Cleland Theatre on June 21.
“I was grown up basically kind of brainwashed on beatles music,” Gilmore jokes.
Although his earliest memory wasn’t quite the ideal introduction to the Fab Four.
“I was staying up late after my parents had gone to bed and I was watching Help. I always remember it because I felt really violently ill with a stomach bug and I ran to the downstairs bathroom and I didn’t quite make it. I spewed all over my dad’s Hoffner bass,” said Gilmore of the Hoffner the same type of guitar McCartney used throughout much of his career. “That was my introduction into a life with the Beatles.”
Gilmore graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies, but his only religions are the Liverpool Football Club and the Beatles.
“The music was always on around the house and I loved it and the haircuts. My whole life I always wanted to be a Beatle so it is quite nice to be able to go around the world and play your favourite music,” said Gilmore.
Employing the Beatles’ authentic-looking instruments, amplifiers and costumes Beatlemania On Tour — The Beatles Experience recreates the spirit of the group. The show is a musical biography from the start of the Beatles career to the impromptu concert on the Saville Row Apple rooftop, their last live gig.
“We try and incorporate a bit of every year of the Beatles from their early days in Hamburg where they were playing rock ’n’ roll in leathers through to the final show on the rooftop. A lot of shows seem to start the Beatles career on the Ed Sullivan Show like they just popped up in America but we try to tell a complete story,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore said he was always more comfortable singing John Lennon songs and it just happened he knew Craig McGown who can play lead guitar (George Harrison). Things fell in place from there when they met Joe Kane who is a bass player with a tenor voice for Paul McCartney and Graham Critcher is the drummer (Ringo Starr) who already played in a 60s style band. Playing the songs The Beatles made famous is the easier part of being an impersonation act.
“To get the sound right and feel right is the most difficult thing. Another thing is the genuine characterizations. You can become characters of the Beatles or Elvis or any iconic figure but to deliver an authentic genuine characterization of people who mean so much to others is always a constant challenge,” said Gilmore.
To do this it means perfecting accents, analyzing hand movements and even detailing the simple things.
“There are some things that are obvious that come straight away like what side to part your hair on and what side did he wear his watch but there are always the little nuances like a head scratch or John likes to look at Paul and George quite a lot when he is singing and when he isn’t he kind of claps along to them,” said Gilmore.
It is the music that drives Gilmore’s passion. He said recently he has been digging the Hard Days Night album, but finds it difficult to narrow his favourite song to just one.
“I have always been fond of John’s songwriting, especially on The White Album. I also love This Boy because I think it is the perfect Beatles song with a three-part harmony and great melody and just them on the cusp of greatness,” said Gilmore.
The Beatlemania tour promises to take audiences members out of their seats to travel through the Beatles musical history.
“If there is one person in the audience that has their love reignited for what I think is the best music ever, then I think we did a good job. It is great music and it should be played live like all good music,” said Gilmore.
Tickets for Beatlemania On Tour — The Beatles Experience can be purchased at the Penticton Community Centre.