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The Beatles come to Rockford–1964: The Tribute

March 10, 2010

Photo provided

By Edith McCauley

Theater Critic

The Beatles will be in town Friday, March 12, at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. In an interview with Mark Benson, who is John Lennon in 1964: The Tribute, we discussed at length his musical career, the formation of the group and their 26 years of dedication to the “Fabulous Four” and their incomparable contribution to a genre of an era that continues to this day.

Mark grew up in a family whose love of music was essential. His mother and father were active in their church and sang in the choir. Mark began playing instruments at an early age, and by his teens had chosen the guitar as his focus. With several friends, he organized his first band. I asked when they received payment for a performance. It was before he began high school. Although minimal, he realized that audiences would actually pay to hear their music.

Contemporary songs and the music of the ’70s and ’80s played in small venues carried them through the early years, and by 1984 the group decided to expand their repertoire. Having grown up with the Beatles, they formed a band that duplicated their look and their songs. The bass player even learned to play with his left hand. Three of the original band are in the current group.

During the past 26 years, they have performed throughout the country, from Carnegie Hall to Red Rocks outside Denver. Mark says: “I am blessed to have been involved in a career that I so love. Our shows are basically love songs, and there are no rude lyrics or movements. Looking out at the audience, I see three generations together. This is a genre for all ages. This has been a lifelong job.” We both agreed that having work that we look forward to every day is a real gift.

Mark’s home base is Akron, Ohio. The group is on the road year-round with a holiday and summer break. His daughter is pursuing a career in dance, attending school in California. She has had a professional appearance at one of the awards shows at the Kodak Theater, so the tradition continues.

THREE GENERATIONS OF BEATLES FANS: Granddaughter Liz Kilty (rear, from left), grandmother Edith McCauley and daughter Mary Kilty pose with cardboard cutouts of Ringo Starr (front, from left), John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison at BeatlesFest in Chicago in 1995. Photo provided

Personal note: My granddaughter, Liz, has been a Beatles fanatic since she was in grade school. BeatleFest in Chicago was an annual event. She and my daughter plan to attend Friday’s show—another three generations in the house. Mark will be pleased. The greatest compliment the band has ever received was a demand from a patron asking for his money back. “I did not come to hear a tape of the Beatles’ music,” the disgruntled patron was reported as saying.

Tickets are available by calling (815) 968-0595 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. I’ll see you there.

From the Mar. 10-16, 2010 issue

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