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Q&A with Ron McNeil: The Fab Four Beatles tribute band member

Almost everyone likes the Beatles, and the band continues to be popular more than 40 years after its breakup. Unfortunately for fans, they won’t have the chance to see the lads from Liverpool perform live again. This Friday, though, Beatles buffs can catch the next best thing at the Palace Theater.

The Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band, bill themselves as “the ultimate tribute.” They give old fans a chance to relive their memories and allow younger fans to experience the music in a live setting. The band is known for its meticulous attention to detail, using the same instruments, sporting similar outfits and even wearing the same style of shoes as the original group.

The Daily Orange spoke with Ron McNeil, who plays the part of John Lennon, about what it takes to be in a tribute band.

The Daily Orange: How did the band start?

R.M.: I saw Ardy (Sarraf, who plays Paul McCartney) at a local Beatles convention in L.A. … And he was singing a song by Paul McCartney, and I just couldn’t believe it. He sounded exactly like Paul McCartney. I just didn’t know how he did it. It was like some kind of weird trick or something. So I went up to him and asked him if he would like to do it, and a couple of years later we formed a group.

The D.O.: When you all started out, how did you choose your roles?

R.M.: For me, I think I gravitate a little bit more to John as far as vocally and facially and stuff like that, and Ardy is kind of the same way, but poor Ardy, he had to learn how to play the bass left-handed. That’s something I wasn’t going to do. I said, “Forget it!”

The D.O.: What are your favorite songs to perform, and how does the audience react?

R.M.: We do the hits, and sometimes we’ll throw a curveball, but … we cover their whole career. We do some interesting stuff, like  “A Day in the Life.” We perform live on stage, “Strawberry Fields,” so there’re a lot of songs (like) that. I think those two are the most challenging of all the songs to pull off live. It’s only four guys. There’re no tapes, there’re no tracks, there’s nothing. Everything is played on live.

The D.O.: How do you go about getting an authentic, “Beatles-esque” sound?

R.M.: I think a lot of it comes out of the instruments. We use all of the original instruments, and then, you know, just years and years of studying and just a love of the music, and trying to imitate the sounds the best we can. It’s a work in progress. I mean, we’re always improving, always trying to get it better.

The D.O.: Why do you think the Beatles’ music still resonates with so many people today?

R.M.: I think the themes that they chose, they sing about love and peace and I think that, as long as that’s still a prevalent theme, I think the Beatles’ music will carry on.

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