Original Cast Member:
 
 

Richi Ray

Lead Guitar

...with Bunk 8 mates Don Linares, Mike Palaikis , and (Sopranos') Al Sapienza

scroll down for Richi's Q&A

with Don Linares, Marshall Crenshaw, and
 Al Sapienza

...with Don Linares and Bob Williford

August 28th, 1980 
with Don Linares, Al Sapienza, and Peter McGann

Richi Ray  as George

...performing off-stage with Don

August 28th, 1980 
with Don Linares, Al Sapienza, and Peter McGann

a young 20 sumthin' Richi in Phillie

Richi with Tony Kishman'
after a March 2003
"Classical Mystery Tour" show
with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra

Q&A with Richi Ray: 
(May 27th, 2003)

How did you hear about BEATLEMANIA auditions? 
I'm an accidental participant in the show. A friend of mine was a techno dance-mix producer with some hits and he took me to the audition without
me knowing what it was for. He tried out as John and I said, "Well, I'll be George, why not?" ...and played a few tunes for Andy Dorfman with
some guys from the cast at SIR, San Francisco. They gave me a call back audition, for which I did come prepared. I didn't know that they were only
looking for "potential understudies". When you're at an audition, you don't ask too many questions before you get the job.

Many Broadway theater houses have strict union minimum hiring rules. The Orpheum in San Francisco is such a place. I became a do-nothing for $348 a week with Beatlemania. I was paid to sit around and watch the show and collect my check. 
I didn't get a Beatle school, because the company
knew that I had learned my way around the guitar already.  In retrospect, I probably could have benefited from it. 

Just hanging around, I formed friendships with the cast and a contributing reason I did want to join when my number came up was that Marshall
Crenshaw, Joey Curatolo and everyone generally treated me well.  During their SF run we even went into a recording studio and with just about
everybody from the show playing something, produced and mixed a Bobby Taylor original song, a real Phil Spector extravaganza, "Be My Baby
Tonight". That was fun! But after a few weeks, I bid them all goodbye forever as their tour was moving on. Six months later when I was up in the
mountains teaching at a music camp, Andy called and asked if I could be in Philadelphia ...MONDAY!  I had really never expected to hear from them again.

So my task was easy ..just replace Bob Miller, one of the finest musicians on the planet, an excellent look-a-like and popular in the company as
well. He was leaving the show to form the Metro Men (hope I got that right, Bob), his own band.  Do you think I was shaking in my pointy boots
that first night? With just one dress rehearsal, 
I should have properly been embalmed. Joey Curatolo, bless him, loosened me up by making this
hissing noise from the wings like I had missed a cue. They got me good!  It really did take a while for me to learn the tight blocking as I'd always
been in hippie bands that couldn't give two shits for staging. 

How many years were you with the show?
I played in the official Beatlemania production for about two years. During this time I played with a varying set of John Lennons and I'm sure by
now from the other interviews you know the details of how the show operated. Two bands in every city, my first: Marshall, Al, and Don, Bunk 8 or
Bunk Junk as we became known. I believe we earned that title because we were slopped together in some congressional redistricting. Or perhaps
there was another reason for that title ..Hmmm. 

Where there ever any accidents on stage say during costume changes? eg: trips and falls, etc. 
Hawaii was interesting in that the humidity would strip your fake moustache right off your face in about one minute under the lights ..no matter how
much tape you used. Once, Bob Williford's moustache stuck to the microphone while he was singing and just hung there in mid-air after he had
walked away.. the only way to get out of that problem is to press your face hard against the damn mic and hope it'll re-attach ...and pray that the
producer isn't in town watching this, which of course he is because it's Hawaii! (you figure it out). I think somebody fell off the stage in Hawaii
also, but that wasn't humidity, that was the cast getting a hold of some local hippie lettuce in fact, there were even some rare lighting mis-cues on
that tour also. It didn't much matter, there were only thirty or forty people in the audience ...In industry lingo it's called a tax write-off.

Where did you enjoy performing the most? (What city, country, theatre, etc.) 
Vancouver was a record-breaker for the touring company and I believe we were the number one draw in Billboard that entire month. It's also my
favorite because I enjoyed the fine restaurants and good French wine available next door to the Queen Victoria Theater. The proprietor was an
eighty-year old Russian chef named Rocco who had served the Beatles, the Stones and several British Royalty in his time. He didn't know I wasn't
famous, and I was performing next door, so he treated me to homemade pate and food not on the menu (kept slipping me Russian vodka as well.)
Also in town were some great musician friends playing at this night club called Acapulco.  The best looking women would go there and once I
brought the cast with me after the show and we sat in with the band and Joey did twenty-five minutes of Hey Jude. The crowd was ecstatic and tears
were in most of our eyes. Very moving night.

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? 
Ask Mitch this. He has the best John Lennon story.  If I have it right, Lennon crossed the street in the winter snow to talk to Mitch who was heading
towards the stage door at the Wintergarden.

Do you still perform with other alumni?
I joined up with Tony Kishman in 1986 to play Vegas for a year and still play shows with him occasionally. We didn't get to work together until
after the show had closed, so like other guys in different touring companies, we discovered each other "after" the fact. Tony and myself were on a job with Classical Mystery Tour just a few weeks ago, in fact. Fabulous performer and a very good friend of mine. 

I still see Mitch on a job now and then too. He's one of my favorite people.  Joey keeps in touch now and then and we shared the loss of one of the
best guys ever, Jim Riddle, when he passed away.

What are you doing these days?
Before joining Beatlemania I would do many advertising singing dates as well as engineering spots for radio. This has continued to this day and
since I live in Los Angeles I get work in film and television. This week I had the Dodgers and Chevrolet for instance. I run my own studio and work closely with a facility in Burbank that does movie trailer and television voice overs. Composing music for jingles and raising children seems to be
two things that I can do.

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Contact:  Beatlemaniac@BeatlemaniaAlumni.com