April 10, 1970: The Beatles officially announced their breakup, marking the end of an era. For a decade, the Fab Four inspired countless individuals to pick up an instrument and brought the masses screaming into shows around the world. Then, it was over.
Sure, Beatles fans still had the records and the films to appreciate the music that four men from Liverpool used to change the world. But for those who were not able to see the magic live, it looked like their chance was gone.
That’s where American English steps in. For years, this Chicago-based cover band has brought the magic of The Beatles to international audiences, with audience members ranging from those around for Beatlemania to the new generation of Beatles lovers.
Celebrated by Sam Leach, an original promoter for The Beatles, who calls the band “The Beatles incarnate,” American English sends audiences back in time to the days of Ed Sullivan and through to the dissolvement of The Beatles.
Young Hines (John Lennon), Eric Michaels (Paul McCartney), James Paul Lynch (George Harrison), and Tom Gable (Ringo Starr) have been making a stop in Bargersville, Indiana at Mallow Run Winery for several years. Here, Hoosier Beatles fans get the chance to experience Beatlemania all over again.
For drummer Tom Gable, playing the part of Ringo Starr started after bandmate Eric Michaels “drafted” him into the group. After studying Tthe Beatles catalog and Starr’s drumming technique, Gable tapped into the “psyche of Ringo,” Gable explained in a phone interview.
“There was a point when I really got into it. It was a span of four or five years where I really had to dig in and research what was going on,” Gable said. “The music was so well written and recorded that it was clear everything on the records were there for a reason. And when you play those songs, because they’re perfect, like gems, if something isn’t right, you’ll feel it. It sounds cool to a novice ear, but you know there’s something missing. It takes time.”
For Gable, that time and practice, which includes learning to stick left handed, pays off when the music sounds authentic.
“The challenge, what’s fun about it, when you tap into that stuff, that’s where it really starts to sound like the record,” Gable said. “It’ll never sound exactly like the record, but you can get close. You have to keep that loyalty to what they did. They worked really hard, devoted their life to those ten years that they were together.”
With the outfits, haircuts, instruments, and accents all assembled, the work that goes into putting on a successful and authentic set is evident.
Ludwig drums and a telecaster guitar that is a near replica of George Harrison’s Fender that was used on the 1965 album Rubber Soul help American English to get a sound as similar to The Beatles as one could get without actually being The Beatles.
“It’s kind of light hearted,” Gable stated. “Obviously, everybody knows we’re not The Beatles. Nobody thinks like ‘I’m Ringo reincarnated,’ especially me. We’ve turned it into a business because we went the extra mile with the haircuts, instruments, and accents. I think people want to go because they never got to see and will never get to see it. They want in on the experience. They want to be in on the illusion. It’s fun to watch them get into it like that.”
With international gigs, American English brings that illusion to fans all over the world.
“In Japan, some of the younger people really acted like we were The Beatles. They never got to see that, only in film, so it was so exciting for them to see that live. They really appreciate it,” Gable said. “Even going back to England, even they were freaking out. Just to see their famed Beatles reenacted, they got a kick out of that. Especially Puerto Rico, they really went crazy. We didn’t think it was going to be that big. We came out and the streets were lined up.”
“We’re just a regular guys from Chicago. There’s a demand out there, and people are passionate about it. They really got into it.”
American English brings The Beatles to life onstage once again with three acts: the Ed Sullivan era, the psychedelia era, and finally, the later years of the Fab Four, including the White Album. For Gable, the first set holds special importance.
“ I love the first set, the black coat period,” he said. “That’s where the magic happened. Four young guys, playing in clubs making ten dollars each, and then they get suits, and all of a sudden the entire face of the planet is turned upside down.”
After their careers took off, The Beatles went from playing clubs to being chased by emphatic fans with cameras and having huge crowds of people waiting for them to get off a plane. “Imagine how that felt,” Gable said. “Just imagine that impact.”
“To me, those songs that catapulted them into that light, it was magic. Two or three years down the way, they were writing music to keep up their legend, but imagine writing those songs and not knowing what was going to happen. The first set is to me has the most magical moments.”
While The Beatles have long since been disbanded, American English helps to continue the legacy and the spirit that the Fab Four left behind. The authenticity of their set creates the illusion that one is standing in the Cavern Club in Liverpool where The Beatles got their start.
For Gable, the dedication to practice and passion for music that he shares with his bandmates takes the pressure off of portraying perhaps the most well known music group in the world.
“I feel like at the end of the show, if there is a Ringo fan in the audience, he’s going to go home and think ‘he’s done his homework,’”Gable said. “With that confidence, there isn’t much pressure, even playing such a monumental musician. It comes from a passion for the drumming and the music.”
American English has been voted “Best Tribute Band” three out of four years in the Chicagoland Area. For more information and tour dates, visit:http://www.americanenglish.com/mainpage_scroll.html