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The Bootleg Beatles

The Bootleg Beatles

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A superb headline act has been secured to open the 50th anniversary of the Towersey festival in August.

The Bootleg Beatles, who pioneered the tribute sub-culture, is one of Britain’s most popular bands, writes Heather Jan Brunt.

They’ve played in front of the Queen, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and George Martin. They’ve played at Glastonbury, Knebworth and Wembley Stadium and have shared the bill with Rod Stewart, Elton John, David Bowie, Seal and Simple Minds.

These performances, along with the band’s regular appearances on television and radio, have elevated the Bootleg Beatles above mere tribute.

So it’s quite a coup to get them on the Towersey bill, playing in the main tented venue, Venue 65 on Thursday August 21.

Adam Hastings, who started playing John Lennon in the band three years ago, can’t wait to sample the joy that is the five day Towersey festival.

He said: “I haven’t been there before personally, but it sounds fantastic and it’s great to know this is the 50th year.”

The Bootleg Beatles was originally formed from the cast of West End musical Beatlemania and the band has been together longer than the actual Beatles. But there have been changes of personnel.

Adam, 26, who hails from Newcastle, replaced founder member Neil Harrison in 2011. Steve White, who plays Paul McCartney, is the newest member, having joined two years ago.

Hugo Degenhardt has been playing Ringo Starr for 10 years, and the last original member Andre Barreau plays George Harrison.

Adam said: “Andre is about to retire and will be hanging up his wig after our tour of Australia, so we will have a new George for Towersey.

“The original band members were all the same age, so it makes sense.”

Adam studied jazz at Leeds College of Music and formed his own Beatles tribute band after he graduated, so he was already immersed in the mythology and muscianship of the band before he joined the Bootlegs.

He admits he used to have a genuine mop top haircut but got fed up with looking after it, so now like the others, he wears a wig on stage.

He said: “There is a massive investment by the managment to get everything right and the hair is iconic so we all wear very expensive wigs.”

He said: “You have to look and move like the people you are impersonating, but if the music is not replicated accurately it’s a waste of time. The sound is all important.”

Tickets for the Bootleg Beatles are £22 for adults and go on sale on Sunday from www.towerseyfestival.com