Triple Played: Beatles paved the way for many musicians

“If it weren’t for the Beatles, I would not be a musician. From a very early age, I loved their groove and their swagger, their grace and their beauty, their dark and their light. The Beatles knew no boundaries, and in that freedom they seemed to define what we now know today as rock and roll, for my parents, for me and for my daughter, too.” — Dave Grohl from “The Night that Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” which aired on Sunday, Feb. 9.

That sums it up pretty well.

It comes from a man who was born in 1969, the same year the Beatles disbanded. He was a drummer for Nirvana and then the founder, lead singer and guitar player for the Foo Fighters.

I don’t know if you were able to watch the salute to the Beatles. My wife and I watched most of it while getting dinner. We recorded it and watched it a second time minus the endless commercials. We both found it to be a fairly entertaining show and, of course, I have a few observations.

I can’t think of any other artists who have had 50th anniversary celebrations of their first appearances on American television.

I think the mix of the artists paying tribute was a good representation of the far-reaching influence of the Fab Four. But I thought some of the performances were a little weak or the performer didn’t seem to be into the “spirit” of the song.

In fact, several were disappointing and had me thinking they shouldn’t be singing Beatles songs on national television.

Some of my favorite performances included Stevie Wonder’s funky version of “We Can Work It Out,” Joe Walsh and Gary Clark’s guitar playing on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Jeff Lynne and Grohl with their cover of one of my favorites, “Hey Bulldog,” and Lynne, Walsh and Dahni Harrison’s cover of George Harrison’s beautiful “Something.”

I also liked the Eurythmics’ version of “Fool On the Hill” as well as “Don’t Let Me Down” from Keith Urban and John Mayer.

Paul McCartney’s set of “Birthday,” “Get Back” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” with what looked like his house band plus Dhani Harrison, was excellent.

However, the highlight for me was Ringo Starr’s rollicking set with the house band, which included Peter Frampton, and had the crowd on its feet dancing, including Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison and too many stars to mention.

Starr started with Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” then “Boys,” which Starr said he used to do when he played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes pre-Beatles. Starr closed with “Yellow Submarine.”

During the Beatles first visit to the Ed Sullivan studio, John Lennon asked a production assistant if this was the same studio in which Buddy Holly and the Crickets had played. When the assistant told Lennon he was almost standing on the very spot, Lennon got very excited and said “Oh my God.”

McCartney then added that when Lennon came up with the Beatles name, he did it because it had a double meaning like the Crickets.

Later, when the Beatles met the Crickets, McCartney told them the Beatles thought it was clever that the Crickets named themselves after an insect and a game Brits like to play. Holly responded by saying they didn’t know anything about a game called cricket.

The closing song of “Hey Jude” with all the performers plus Cirque Du Soleil acrobats was incredible, but only after McCartney and Starr told the crowd that whenever they play Beatles songs, either separately or together, Lennon and Harrison are always with them. As Starr said, they were a “band of four.” Long live the Beatles!

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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