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In the Know/ A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

New Group on a Well-Traveled Road

June 24, 2002|Times staff writers

The names on the bill for Saturday's "Walk Down Abbey Road" concert at the Greek Theatre--Todd Rundgren, Alan Parsons, Jack Bruce, Mark Farner and Christopher Cross--pose one key question: Is this the priciest Beatles tribute band ever or what?

There's no shortage of groups re-creating the Fab Four's hits in lounges and bars around the world. But the "Walk Down Abbey Road" lineup represents a first: pop and rock stars in their own right saluting the hits of another group in an ongoing tour. "The credibility is automatic given the caliber of musicians that are participating," says Beatles authority Pete Howard, publisher of the CD news magazine ICE. "This is several notches above 'Beatlemania'-type shows."

Veteran producer and musician Parsons dreamed up the show and toured for a limited number of dates last summer. This year, a spokesman for Parsons says, "They're playing more shows and bigger venues, so this is a nice step up." Case in point: The show stopped at the 1,200-seat Grove of Anaheim last year but is at the 6,200-seat Greek this year.

Connoisseurs of fine print have noticed the disclaimer in ads for the concert: "Not affiliated nor endorsed by the Beatles collectively or individually or their affiliates."

Says Howard, "Everybody knows how rightfully protective and litigious the Beatle camp is.... So this is a good move by the promoter to disarm that small percentage of ticket buyers who might have thought it was endorsed by the Beatles. This puts everything on top of the table and makes it all the more fun."

It's not exclusively a Beatle-fest. Each participant also gets a chance to play a few of his own hits. But the emphasis is clearly on the lads from Liverpool.

"Anybody can throw together a band, call themselves the Liverpool Moptops and sort of come up from the lower levels to do a Beatles tribute," Howard says. "But this is a case of respected musicians almost bowing down at the Beatles' feet.

"Every decade that goes by, it becomes more obvious how important the Beatles music was and how it influenced everybody who followed," adds Howard. "This is a nice combination of great music performed by outstanding musicians from both the same era and subsequent eras, and it's all in fun, which is as it should be."

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