|What makes a great
"You have to take the music
seriously," answered Eric Michaels, one-fourth of the
Beatles tribute act American English, "and look the part
as much as you can.
"You gotta sing like The
Beatles and play like The Beatles and they were good,"
he said, emphasizing "good."
which performs tonight at Decatur Celebration, is about
as close to the real thing as they come. Sam Leach, an
original promoter of The Beatles, has dubbed the band
"The Beatles incarnate."
Members of the
Chicago-based band include Michaels as Paul McCartney,
Doug Couture as George Harrison, Tom Gable as Ringo
Starr and Young Hines as John Lennon. They not only walk
and dress like the Beatles, they even talk like
"Part of our job is acting," Michaels said.
"You actually have to be a musician and be an
As musicians, the band works hard to
match the instrumentation of Beatles' songs, with the
help of its fifth member, Ken Zemanek, keyboardist and
"He's kind of our George Martin of
The Beatles," Michaels said, referring to The Beatles'
recording producer. "Everything sounds accordingly as
The Beatles would play.
"We try to do everything
picture-perfect," including their costumes, re-created
to represent the Beatles' different time eras, including
the psychedelic "Sgt. Pepper" era, with decorated
guitars and flashy jackets.
"Our look changes
right before your very eyes," Michaels said.
band gained an inside source to the Beatles in 2000,
when Leach became their promotions
Michaels said Leach often tells the band
stories of The Beatles, like McCartney's regular use of
the proverb, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the
"I almost feel like I know Paul," Michaels
said, "though I never met him."
shows a year, the band has performed worldwide including
the Caribbean, Japan and England and "all over the
bloody place," Michaels said demonstrating his English
The band's crowning moment is when they
headlined the International Beatle Week in
"The streets were filled with 50,000
people," Michaels said. "They love what you put into
"Also, we were in Japan, and they don't speak
English, but they're singing every word. It's great to
see The Beatles so universal."
American English, a Beatles tribute act.
6:15 and 10 p.m. today.
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