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Return to Beatlemania: A local Beatles tribute

HAMBURG — Feb. 9, 1964 marked a noted moment in rock n’ roll history. The Beatles landed in America, greeted by approximately 3,000 fans at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. They then performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and sparked the British Invasion. A widespread celebration marking the 50th anniversary will take place this year, with Hamburg as a participant.

“No arguing about it, The Beatles are the top pop music phenomenon of the century,” a TV broadcaster said, over vintage footage of the pandemonium and press conference. In addition to the screaming, onlooking fans held signs. One of them read: “Elvis is dead. Long live The Beatles.”

Zipco Events will present “An Evening with The Beatles” at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Hamburg Palace Theatre. BackBeat ‘64, the Southtowns’ Beatles tribute band, will perform, in front of projections from “The Ed Sullivan Show.” A screening of a Beatles film will be held, following the concert; the title has not been released by the theater.

Norm Zintz, the Hamburg village “hot dog guy” and head of Zipco Events, said he remembers the eventful 1964 day.

“It was something new and something wonderful,” he said. “We’d listen to [The Beatles] on the radio. Back then, we didn’t have much money and most of us didn’t have records or anything. It was more important to us than seeing the president of the United States.”

Zintz said that his obsession was instantaneous. “The morning after [the Ed Sullivan performance], I combed my hair down just like The Beatles,” he said, adding that his teacher at the Hamburg Junior-Senior High School shoved his head under the water fountain, told him to comb his hair up and said there would be “no Beatles in this class.”

Emceed by 97 Rock’s “J.P.,” BackBeat ‘64 will segment the show in two sets; the first will be a complete recreation of Ed Sullivan’s shows from 1964 and 1965, followed by a second set of songs from The Beatles’ collection.

“We’re going to relive Beatlemania from day one,” said Don Daley, musical director of the tribute band. “It’s a one time only [event]. Make sure you catch it, because we can’t replay it.”

The group is made up of Daley and five other individuals. BackBeat ‘64 utilizes Ludwig drum kits, Gretsch guitars, Vox amplifiers and Rickenbacker guitars; Daley said that the group attempts to produce a sound that mirrors the Fab Four.

“I remember vividly,” he said. “I was 8 years old. I was watching the TV, watching them perform. A parallel would be, like, Cupid hits you with that arrow. You’re hopelessly devoted, after that.”

Footage of The Beatles from “The Ed Sullivan Show” will be projected, during the first set. Approximately 200 Beatles photos will flash, during the band’s second set. Daley said, “Nobody should blink for a second.”

According to Jay Rouf, owner of the Hamburg Palace, this event is the first of its kind to take place at the theater. “We put a lot of effort into recreating this,” Zintz said, adding that he thinks the event will attract people from in and outside the Hamburg area.

Tickets may be purchased at the theater’s box office in the evenings, or from Foresters Drug Store, located at 3713 S. Park Ave. in Blasdell; the price will increase on the day of the show.

The doors of the Hamburg Palace Theatre, located at 31 Buffalo St., will open at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9 and the show will begin at 7. It will last for an hour and a half until intermission, followed by the film screening. The concert is general admission; seating is first come, first serve. Wine and beer will be available for purchase.

John Sebastian of the ‘60s rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful will host the next concert in that venue. The date of ticket sales is yet to be determined.

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