Fifty years ago, Beatlemania arrived in Seattle, culminating with a Beatles concert for 14,300 people at the Seattle Center Colisium on Aug. 21, 1964.
Jim Martin wasn’t in Seattle at the time. A young boy growing up in Chicago during The Beatles’ U.S. tours, Martin also missed the concert at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1965. At $5, that was a pretty pricey ticket for a Catholic family with eight kids, Martin said.
“Biggest omission in my life was missing the shows they did at Comiskey Park,” he said.
But Martin and three of his bandmates have found a way to relive those days as The Beatles tribute band, British Export.
Martin does remember the excitement and the screams that surrounded The Beatles’ tours.
“The girls wanted to get with The Beatles and the guys wanted to be a Beatle, and that’s what we’re kind of doing now,” Martin said. “The girls aren’t tearing our clothes off, but we’re rocking, and I get to feel what it was like. It’s really come full circle for me.”
British Export will perform — two days after the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Seattle performance — at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Everett Theatre. Joining Martin, who performs as Paul McCartney, are Jon Fickes as John Lennon, Evan Gackstatter as George Harrison and Everett resident Derek Hovander as Ringo Starr.
Martin missed seeing The Beatles play live, but inspired by the music he learned to play drums and founded British Export 20 years ago in Chicago. He moved the group to Seattle in 2009.
“I started out as Ringo, but then had difficulty finding a left-handed bass player when our Paul left, so I learned how to play bass and left-handed at the same time,” he said. “I think it made it much easier than if I’d learned to play bass right-handed and then tried to switch.”
Martin still finds reason to put on his Ringo outfit, even donning a fake nose to attend the Ringo Starr and His All-Stars concert at Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michelle in July.
“I was there in my Ringo regalia. He was great. I dressed up and people wanted to get pictures with me,” Martin said.
British Export, more than just playing The Beatles’ hits, performs in costume and on instruments and equipment appropriate to the era.
“It’s a recreation. We like to take it to the hilt, the look, the costumes, the amplifiers, the suits, the accents. We try and take people back,” Martin said. “We’ll do the early Beatles and take a break and change in to Sgt. Pepper’s gear and then into the later recording years.”
For festival and casino shows, the band plays more “rocking dance tunes,” he said, but for shows like those at Historic Everett the band will perform songs that are more for listening and involve more orchestration.
Of course, the baby boomers, as they did 50 years ago, show up for the concerts.
“But I would say a great portion is an amazing collection of kids who just love the music and bring their moms and dads,” Martin said. “There will always be Beatles fans.”
Meet the Export
To read more about Britsh Export and other tribute bands playing in the region, see The Herald story at tinyurl.com/HeraldPlayingTribute.