Q & A WITH PETER McGANN
1. How did you hear about Beatlemania auditions?
PETER: I was living in Miami, Florida and read an ad in the Miami Herald
decided to give it a shot.
2. Had you been impersonating John Lennon before
you heard about Beatlemania?
PETER: Not really. I mean, I did some Beatle songs in my solo act and
always tried to approximate the voices of the singers just to give
my performance a
bit more authenticity. Actually, I specialized in imitating Dylan more
Lennon at that time, but people always told me that I sounded like
The Beatles, too.
3. What was your audition experience for Beatlemania
like? EG: Was the room
full of Beatle impersonators, or was it just
you and a music director?
PETER: My audition, I learned, was part of a nationwide search for
look-a-likes and sound-a-likes for the recently opened Broadway show.
There was a
room full of people who looked very 1960's, and some looked downright
Beatle-ish. After a while, this guy came into the room with a Beatlemania
on. He looked around and said, "If I have to ask you which Beatle you
auditioning for, you might as well leave now". He looked at me and
right?". So, I played him 3 songs, "Nowhere Man", "You've Got to Hide
Away", and "Revolution". He said to come back tomorrow and gave me
a list of
28 Beatle songs, with the right keys. He asked me "See how many songs
learn by tomorrow". I had a gig that night, so I didn't get a whole
accomplished. When I arrived the next day, the Miami News TV cameras
were there and I
was thrilled to learn that I was hired. The only audition I did then
play "Revolution". The guy who held the auditions, who I learned was
Yaguda, had put together three other players so that I could audition
with a full
band. I have no idea were he found them on such short notice. I watched
footage on the evening news that night. I wish I had a copy of that
4. How old were you when you were accepted into
PETER: 27, a veritable geezer compared with most of the guys.
5. What was your first experience on stage as
John in front of an audience
like? Was it the first for your other band members
PETER: Sandy sent me to L. A. to be "John" in that show, but I hadn't
chance to learn all the material and I was at a real disadvantage.
The show was
to open in six weeks and they needed someone who could step in right
they shipped me to Beatle School in New York. That was kind of a rough
Eventually, I performed on Broadway at the Lunt/Fontaine Theater, initially
filling in as "John" in Bunk 3 along with Mitch Weissman.
6. How many years were you with the show?
7. Were there ever any accidents on stage, say,
during costume changes, stumbling around in the dark?
EG:Trips and falls, etc.?
PETER: I believe it was in Edmonton, Alberta, but it could've been
Calgary. We were on our 2nd Canadian and Western U. S. tour. Up to
this point, every
theater had exits to the backstage area from either side, but this
designed in such a way that the only way to the backstage was from
The left side of the stage ended at the footlights and into the audience.
After "Lucy in the Sky", a cannon was fired to end the first set. We
supposed to run off stage so that the curtains and house lights could
come up again.
I jumped up from the keyboard and flew off stage LEFT and tripped over
footlights and into the audience. Some pretty stunned people helped
John Lennon to his feet and I walked around the stage to the other
embarrassed than injured. I could claim that I invented the "mosh pit"
just too humble.
8. What was your favorite part of the show?
PETER: I liked it all, especially the balloon popping in "Day Tripper".
was a chance to have some fun and get some relief from the strict standards
the performance. The whole second act was particularly enjoyable.
9. What was your least favorite part of the show?
PETER: "Can't Buy Me Love", because we weren't actually playing the
10. Who did you enjoy working with the most?
PETER: Probably Sandy Yaguda, the Musical Director, because he auditioned
and chose me, and, really acted as my champion. He seemed to believe
in me and
my potential. You see, as opposed to other members, I came into the
knowing a lot of the material. Some of the guys knew everything,
note-for-note, and I had a lot to learn. In time, I caught up, but
Sandy was always there
11. Did you play vintage instruments and use vintage
equipment for the show?
PETER: I played a Rick 360, so it wasn't an exact duplicate of John's
Rickenbacker 325, but close enough. Other guitars were a Gibson J160-E
an Epiphone Casino 65 (which was mine). I also played a Gibson organ.
12. We know that supposedly none of the original
Beatles ever saw the show
live, but some people from The Beatles' camp
(other than attorneys) did see it.
Do you recall who? Any other famous folks catch
the show while you were
PETER: George Martin came to see the show during our London tour, although
technically I did not play that show. The "A" band took the stage that
can say no more.
13. Did you ever meet any of The Beatles?
PETER: I don't think so. I was once in an elevator with "The Grateful
in NYC and I was in costume for the show and Jerry Garcia asked, "You're
Beatlemania, right" and I said, "Yes. Are you guys in a band?" You
see, I hadn't
recognized them and when I got off, someone asked me if I knew I was
elevator with "The Grateful Dead", and I hadn't a clue. I must've seemed
idiot when I asked them if they were in a band....duh.
14. Do you still perform with other alumni?
PETER: Off and on I have played in Beatle tribute bands (see below),
recently I have been performing a solo act, "We All Shine On", a musical
to John Lennon.
15. You've had quite a busy POST Beatlemania music
career as well. Care to
fill us in on the old resume a bit?
PETER: I was in John Stuart's "Legends in Concert" for 3 years as John
Lennon. I also had a Tribute to The Beatles band in the early and mid
other alumni Peter Santora, Don Linares and Phil Lomedico - a GREAT
with John Redgate and later with Alan LeBeouf in a show that toured
Canada, the U. S. and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Justin McNeil was in a few
of the many
Beatle bands I played in as well. I went to Tokyo with John Redgate,
Santora and Don Geross ("Ringo") for an 8 week stand at Club Sensation
(what a blast)! We jammed with David Lee Roth's band and got to hang
such rock luminaries as INXS, Hall and Oates, and Belinda Carlisle,
experience I'll never forget. Right now, I'm living in Naples, Florida,
with my wife,
Vivian, and I'm putting together a Willie Nelson tribute show.
Catch Peter's one man
Lennon tribute at:
2408 Linwood Avenue,
Naples, Florida 34112
as part of