|Q&A with Tony:
How did you hear about BEATLEMANIA auditions?
I heard about the Beatlemania audition back in 1977. I was
in Tucson, AZ and I was playing in a top 40 band Called Cheap Trix.
This band was
together before the group Cheap Trick had been formed.
We had a following and were pretty good band, I was the lead Singer
and Lead guitarist in the group. I was playing around the Southern
circuit and an agent Named Fred Cisneros, booked us at that time.
He had told another band member, Sy Goraieb, that he heard about
The Beatlemania show and thought that I would be right for the show.
I got a call from Sy Goraieb who was helping in the hunt for a McCartney
for their group that already consisted of Jimmy Poe and Sy as well as Bob
Wirth. So it was Sy that called me for the audition. I told
him that I did not know the songs but that I would love to try out.
Had you been impersonating Paul McCartney
before you heard about Beatlemania?
I was not doing Paul before the audition, however I was a singer
and had performed only one McCartney song. "Beware My Love." This
rocked the house when we did it in the clubs. When I would
sing it, people would come up to me and say I could pass for McCartney.
nothing of it at that time. I was more into Frampton, and
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?
When I auditioned I flew in from Phoenix where I was playing the
night before. I worked up three songs. "Can't Buy Me Love",
"Yesterday", and "Hey Jude".
My friend John Markovich helped me with the bass parts and I learned
"Yesterday". "Hey Jude" was more of a challenge cause I had not yet
learned the piano. I worked really hard to learn the song good enough
for the audition.
I flew into LA. and went to SIR studios where there were several
Pauls dressed up as Ed Sullivan McCartney. The musicial director
was there, Jack
Carone, and Bunk 4: David Leon, Rob Laufer, Ralph Castelli and Jim
So they asked me to sit in with there group to audition me.
So my first audition was with David Leon. We did "Can't Buy Me Love".
I was very nervous, sang almost all of the song but stopped and couldn't
sing anymore. I was very dry and nervious. So they all said,
"dont worry just take it slow."
I was then asked to do "Yesterday" I was a little more comfortable
with that one. I sang it pretty well. I then sang "Hey Jude"
on the piano and I remember doing the ending just like the record.
All the scatt screams were really close to Paul's.
I remember being very excited and really wanting to be in the show.
How old were you when you were accepted into
I was about 20 years old when I auditioned.
We recently watched "The Making of Beatlemania"
and noticed that you are all over that! Were you in "BeatleSchool"
at the time of the taping?
When we filmed the making of Beatlemania I was already hired for
the show. We were going though the motions as if we were auditioning.
What was your first experience on stage as
Paul in front of an audience like? Was it the first for your other
band members as well?
Tell us that moment right before you
hit that first note on IWHYH!
My first show as Paul was in Los Angeles at the
Subert Theater. It was a beautiful Theater. Very modern and
lots of people around you all the time. I was just a young kid from
Tucson and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
We did our sound check and I remember Rob Laufer
saying to me right before the curtain went up. Don't be nervous.
Is just a show man. Just a show. It did calm me down but not
enough. I just remember hearing a loud "GO!" and 1,2,3. For
the first song and from there it was just a blur.
It took me a long time before I was conformable
doing Paul. It's not and easy gig.
even still to this day.
How many years were you with the show?
I started in Beatlemania rehearsals in 1977 and
I joined the live show in 1978. The show ran until approx. 1983.
After that it was finished. a total of about 5 years.
The show seemed very "PAUL SONG" heavy with
no George songs at all. What was the reason for this? Was this
hard on you as a performer? It seemed as if the PAUL's had to carry
pretty much the entire second act of the show.
When I learned that it was mostly Paul songs I
was OK with it. I liked singing and performing. I had nothing to do with
the song selection. So i pretty much said OK. I found it fun.
Were there ever any accidents on stage say
during costume changes? eg: trips and falls, etc.
I never had an accident on stage. However when
we were in Toronto playing the O'Keef Theater. We were there for about
a month. I remember getting sick with the German measles. I passed out
during the end of a show. Joey Curatolo had to finished my show.
It was the only time that ever happened. We were
doing 14 shows a week in Toronto.
Sold out every show.
If you had any, what was the most embarrassing
moment on stage? Power outage? Flubbed lyrics? Sneezes?
I have to say my most embarrassing moments. I
remember in South Africa we had a very primitive crew. During one of the
songs we would have the small Orchestra pull off the stage and then we
would go into the song Michelle. Well. the crew pulled off the Orchestra
so fast that it sounded like a train coming at you. It was so loud and
silly looking we all started laughing. I had to sing Michelle at that moment.
Wow was that hard.
Also during my first few shows I made a mistake
of singing Penny Lane for a long time. I missed the Trumpet solo and kept
singing the chorus for about 10 minutes.
Over all not much after that.
What was your favorite part of the show?
My favorite part of any Beatles show including
Beatlemania was the solo stuff. When I am put on the spot to have to do
something on my own, like "Yesterday" or Currently the McCartney Medley.
Its fun and challenging.
What was your least favorite? And WHY?
I have to say there are some songs that are hard
for me to listen to and at the same time they are fun to play. I have a
hard time playing "All you Need Is Love". I find it a very boring song
to play but I love to listen to it. On the other hand a song like "The
Long and Winding Road" is fun to play and to listen to.
Who did you enjoy working with the most?
My favorite group of guys were my first band
in Beatlemania, I will always have a special place in my heart for them.
Sy, Jimmy, Bob. they will always be my friends forever, No matter what
may happen in life. It was them that did it for me a got me to where I
Where did you enjoy performing the most? (What
city, country, theatre, etc.)
My most memorable place was Chicago, the Blackstone
Theater. We did 6 months there and had a great time. Another great run
was London, at the Astoria Theater we did 6 months in London England.
Did you play vintage instruments and use vintage
equipment for the show?
All the guitars were provided to us by the Producers
of Beatlemania. Leber and Krebs. All the guitars were the exact kind that
the Beatles used.
If you were trapped on a desert island with
only one instrument, which would it be? Rumor has it you still perform
Beatlemania "Bunk 7" Hofner bass.
I still use my Beatlemania Hofner. Yes, thats
true. Its a great bass and I have never done anything to it but put strings
on it. Behind the head of the bass it says Bunk 7.
We know that supposedly none of the original
Beatles ever saw the show live, but some people from the Beatles camp (other
attourneys) did see it. Do you
recall who? Any other famous folks catch the show while
you were involved?
When we were in England. London in fact. George
Martin came to see us perform. He was a really nice man. He said to me
that we were very good and very believable. If fact he's quote. "at times
I drifted." He told me when he heard a song it would remind him of the
time they recorded it and who did what on the song.
I asked him several questions regarding songs
and he gave wonderful answers regarding who did what instruments and what
not. Since the Beatlemania days there have been many celebrity that I have
performed in front of. Neil Diamond, Mickey Dolenz. to many to mention.
Did you ever meet any of the Beatles?
I came very close to meeting McCartney several
times but never did.
Do you still perform with other alumni?
I am currently working in two Beatles tribute
bands. One "Twist and Shout" consists of Jim Owen, Tom Teeley and Carmine
Grippo. Tom the only Beatlemania member. Wonderful musician. and
great to work with. And "Classical Mystery Tour" featuring a 48 piece orchestra.
Also a great line up, Jim Owen, Tom Teeley, and Chris Camalarie.
Having caught your CMT a couple of times, you
really turn up the stakes on the show with the 70's WINGS tunes that you
Beatle tributes are always a great time, but
man, you really blow the roof off the house with the solo Macca songs!
And you really
get into it! Is that your favorite part
of your current show formats??
I have to say that yes I love doing the McCartney
solo songs. Its a gas when they are done well. Doing the Classical Mystery
Tour show is a fun show anyway. But when we hit that part of the show something
happens and yes it's a time to hit the gas.
I have gotten wonderful complements on that part
of the show and I am greatful.
All in all, looking back, how was the Beatlemania
experience for you?
My Beatlemania days were special cause I learned
so much about theater and about performing. I learned all about the Beatles
and what they did for the wourld of music.
I found out about myself and how to sing night
after night. I also made lots of great life time friends.
You've had quite a busy POST Beatlemania music
career as well. Care to fill us in on the old resume a bit?
After Beatlemania I join a show called "Stars
on 45," the show was filmed for video in 1983, It played in the Huntington
Hartford Theater in Los Angeles for a few months and then, the show went
to Las Vegas and the Dunes Hotel. We ran there under the name "Dream
I left Dream Street for a last Tour of
Beatlemania in Canada and then joined the Show 'Legends in Concert."
I performed in that show for many years about 5 or so. After Legends
I did a solo McCartney show in Legends as well. I really enjoyed
it. What a challenge that was.
That lasted a few years. I also joined
a Classic recording group called
Wishbone Ash. I toured with them for about
three years and recorded two albums with them. I also recorded my
own solo album for Mercury records. "Catch 22," the most current
show I am doing now is in Germany, the show is called "All You Need Is
Love". There is some acting in this show. It's very good and
fun to do. I have been doing the Germany show for the last three
years. Along with the show "Classical Mystery Tour."