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Beatle-mania in Beaver Creek

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Singer/songwriter Bo Bice will perform with an all-star cast this Wednesday in Beaver Creek to pay tribute to the greatest album of all time: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by the Beatles.
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” As humorist and Beatles historian, Martin Lewis, put it: “It picks you up by the scruff of the neck, shakes you and presents to you the rich tapestry of life.”

He’s talking about “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” The Beatle’s masterpiece that was released in 1967 to a public trembling with the aftershocks of Beatle-mania. But The Beatles of the Sgt. Pepper era were quite different from The Beatles who just five years earlier wore matching suits and wanted to hold your hand.

Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison were no longer content playing sold-out shows to millions of screaming girls; they wanted to make music that wasn’t just entertaining and popular, but also artistic and erudite, Lewis said. Instead of the typical “boy meets girl” songs they had become famous for, their latest work would involve elaborate arrangements, layered sounds and odd instrumentation for a rock band. But The Beatles were making music that would forever change their image and stamp their legacy on the face of the world.

“Recordings, up until the Beatles in the mid-’60s, were in essence the equivalent of a Polaroid ” you just took a snapshot of what it would be like live … The Beatles said, ‘Why can’t it be a painting? Why does it have to be just a good quality capture of what we would do if we were performing live? Why can’t it have the texture and complexity of a painting?” Lewis said.

It’s that thinking that led to the birth of “Sgt. Pepper’s” ” the “greatest album of all time,” according to Rolling Stone.

It’s really no surprise that other great musicians would want to pay tribute to The Beatles and their finest work, which is what drives the current “It Was Forty Years Ago Today” tour. Guitar god Todd Rundgren, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, songwriter Christopher Cross, Denny Laine (who used to play with Paul McCartney in “Wings” and fronted The Moody Blues) and former “American Idol” contestant Bo Bice will perform the entire “Sgt. Pepper’s” album from front to back Wednesday night in Beaver Creek. The singers will be accompanied by The Classical Hits Symphonette. In addition, the musicians will perform some of their individual hits as well.

“Everybody knows me as kind of a Southern rocker country guy, but I jumped at the chance (to do this),” Bice said. “I love The Beatles and love the Sgt. Pepper album, and it seemed like a good couple of weeks to go out and do something different and learn something new.”

“It Was Forty Years Ago Today” is a mini-tour of eight shows throughout the country. Bice said the show will showcase artist’s singular talents as well as use the “super group” concept to bring The Beatle’s “Sgt. Pepper” album to life.

“‘Sgt. Pepper’ is probably one of the most recognizable albums and to me, I think it was one of the albums that really set the bar for concept albums,” Bice said.

When The Beatles came up with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the musicians were under extreme pressure from their studio and fans to tour and release new material. The album was meant to be an alter-ego for the Beatles, but it technically isn’t a concept album, according to Lewis, because it lacks a single common theme that ties the whole thing together. However, it is distinctly English in style and sound, and lacks the American rock quality of earlier Beatles albums.

“It was great growing up with it. It’s like a time capsule of that time period,” said Avon resident Greg Webb.

However, not everyone on the planet thinks “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is the greatest album ever made.

“It’s a good album,” said Eagle Vail resident Peter Clark, “but it’s just an album. I don’t think it’s their best album. My favorite is ‘Abbey Road.'”

But nobody can disagree that “Sgt. Pepper” will remain one of the most influential and respected albums in the world for a long time to come.

“I don’t think a lot of the albums that are made right now, people are going to pull out in 50 years and go, ‘Remember that? That was cool.’ But ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,’ you always will,” said Edwards resident Stacey Worley.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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