Beatles tribute founder talks about being part of pop music history

January 6, 2022

Mark Lewis traces his love for the Beatles back to the Sunday night of February 9, 1964, when his generation was struck by the Fabulous Four on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Years later Lewis would become the managerial and creative mind behind the transformation of Rain, a Beatles tribute band, from a 1970s Southern California bar band doing Beatles covers into an ultra-professional band. , recruiting the excellent musicians who would blend into Rain’s feature film. standing alignment.

This spring, “Rain: a tribute to the Beatles“will perform at ASU Gammage on April 27. Tickets go on sale January 10.

“Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” will perform at ASU Gammage on April 27.
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Originally called Reign, the band eventually gained national fame, changed their name to Rain, and cut the soundtrack to the TV movie “Birth of the Beatles” (thanks to Dick Clark).

An accomplished 13-year-old pianist, having studied since the age of 5, Lewis began his musical career playing the Farfisa organ in teenage rock bands around his hometown of Los Angeles. It was he, Rain’s original keyboardist, who crafted all of the musical parts and sounds that helped Rain bring to life many songs the Beatles themselves never performed live.

Lewis answered a few questions for ASU News about what it’s like to be a part of popular music history.

Question: When did you start playing music?

Responnse: I started piano lessons when I was 5 years old. My mother played the piano, my father sang, and my older sister took piano lessons from my aunt, who was a piano teacher. So I started very young.

Q: What was your reaction when you first saw The Beatles play?

A: The first time I saw The Beatles play was when they performed on the “Ed Sullivan Show”. I was actually watching “Marvelous Disney World” on the living room television when my mom walked in and told me I had to listen to Ed Sullivan. I was taking piano lessons at the time, and thought my mom was trying to get me to watch Liberace or something as an inspiration to get me to practice more. Even though I was only 12 at the time, I was very passionate about music, and I collected records (45s) and listened to music all the time.

I remember watching the performance and being totally blown away. I went out and bought the “Meet the Beatles” album the next day. It was rare that I found enough money to buy an entire album. I remember being amazed at everything about The Beatles. Their look, their way of speaking and especially their sound. Upon closer examination of the album, I realized that they were writing their own music, playing their own instruments, and all singing. The girls in the audience were going crazy for them. I remember thinking, “It sounds like a good job. “

Q: What was the name of your first band?

A: I joined my first band when I was 13, it was called The 8 Balls. There were four guys in the group (do the math). It’ll teach you to ask!

Q: Rain has been playing together longer than the Beatles. How did Rain first meet and how has the series evolved over the years?

A: Rain, originally spelled Reign, was formed with the intention of becoming an original recording group. We played Beatles music for fun, and we never thought of it as an act of tribute. In fact, at the time, in the mid-1970s, there was no such thing as a tribute band.

Like thousands of other bands, Reign wanted to write their own songs and release hit records, but in the meantime we needed to make a living, so we played bars and did Top 40 dance music. It was in the middle of the disco era, should I add. I met two of the guys when they joined a Top 40 band that I was in that played in the LA / Orange County area. We went on the road together and played some of our original music and became friends. When we got off the road we decided to form an original band, but in the meantime we decided that if we were to play other people’s music it would be music we really liked (eg The Beatles) , and we found that we had a special talent for really duplicating the sound. I was really amazed at how much these guys could sound like the Beatles vocally.

We were approached by a booking agent who was looking for a number that could sound like the Beatles to follow up on a successful Elvis impersonator he was running. He met us. Next thing you know, we were performing at various nightclubs on the “slack nights” – Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays – without any guarantees. But if someone showed up, we could keep all the money back at the door. Well guess what? When it was well promoted, people showed up, and we made some money and played music that we liked. I thought it was a good way to make some money for a few months. Here I am, 35 years later. The original guys from Reign, who became Rain, eventually left the band to go and do their original music, and we never heard from them again. I continued Rain and finally met the guys who are currently in Rain who turned out to be really good musicians and had a genuine love for the Beatles, and here we are touring the world and starring in Broadway. Well, that’s the CliffsNotes version anyway.

Q: How do you think the Beatles influenced popular music?

A: The Beatles have influenced popular music on every level imaginable. They made it cool to play your own instruments and sing along. They wrote great songs with great lyrics. They all sang and sang really well. They looked different. They spoke differently. They were saying things that meant something in their words. They always released albums that sounded different from previous albums. They experimented with different sounds and styles of music. They had several songwriters. You can go on and on about how they influenced popular music. Basically you can say the Beatles did things and then everyone copied them.

Q: Do you hear the influence of classical music in the music of The Beatles?

A: One can hear the influence of many styles of music in the music of The Beatles, including classical music. I consider the Beatles to be the classical music of our time. Just like traditional classical music, I believe that Beatles music will last forever, and there will be bands that will do what Rain is doing today in a hundred years. This is how classical music becomes classical.

Q: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be?

A: Undoubtedly, Paul McCartney. If for no other reason, just to meet the guy. However, I don’t think he would need to collaborate with me.

Q: What was the best concert you have attended (other than the Beatles)?

A: Jimi Hendrix at the Hollywood Bowl.

Q: Besides Beatles tunes, what music is on your playlist?

A: I actually have very diverse tastes. You will find a bit of everything on my playlist. Besides the Beatles, you will find classical music including Beethoven and Gershwin. Lots of Elton John, Steely Dan, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Greenday, Yes, Genesis. The fact of being a Beatles fan is that The Beatles have covered many different styles of music during their short history. “She loves you”, “A hard day at night”, “Sgt. Pepper”, “Helter Skelter”, “Yesterday”, “Strawberry Fields”, “In My Life”, “Let It Be”, “Something “… You can go on and on. To love the Beatles is to love many styles of music. Because they did everything.

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