John, Paul, George, and Ringo are the most iconic names in rock and roll.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the groundbreaking 1967 Beatles album that brought us enduring classics such as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and “A Day in the Life.”
To celebrate, the Amherst Marching Comets will stage a show called “Beatles Revolution,” melding classical refrains with hits such as “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.”
“Yesterday” appeared on 1965’s “Help!” and “Eleanor Rigby” debuted the following year on “Yellow Submarine.” The show will also pay tribute to 1967’s “Magical Mystery Tour” with red, white, and blue outfits as an homage to the Union Jack, and the Comets’ green and gold happen to be prominently featured on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s.”
Band director Chris Barbaro said the competitive show, which will be previewed for football fans during halftimes, is meant to celebrate “the coming of the Beatles.”
Beatlemania seized the world in 1963 and continued for seven years, 12 studio albums, 22 singles, 217 total songs, and 17 chart-toppers.
The Amherst marching band’s youngest members weren’t born until 2002, about 32 years after Paul McCartney publicly announced the band’s break-up. But Barbaro said they were no strangers to the legendary music.
“They love it. You know, it’s pop,” he said. “When you’re doing something like last year, with (our show) ‘Enginuity,’ and nobody knows it because it was all original music, they buy into it because it’s a cool thing. But they buy into this because it’s something they know. And the parents on the sidelines are going crazy because it’s the Beatles — it’s something they know.”
This year’s marching band is 125 members strong. It graduated 35 seniors in the spring and welcomed 33 newcomers this summer to the ranks.
Much of band camp was dedicated to teaching first-year musicians basic steps, said Barbaro.
The week-long practices had 100 percent attendance.
“The kids have turned over a new leaf. They’re being very supportive of each other,” the director said. “We started a big brother-big sister program for kids who are struggling to have someone to watch over them,” which provided moral support and direction.
We found teens in good spirits, in no small part due to the weather. Temperatures stayed in the 70s and low 80s this year instead of peaking toward the 100 degree mark, which plagued 2016’s summer practices and made fainting from heat exhaustion a real worry.
The color guard will sport new uniforms this year, and the band will have new hats thanks to the work of parents Jeff Rakar and Scott Douglass. The hats cost about $10,000 total and complement the new plumes purchased last year.
They’ll look great at competitions early in the season at Lewisville, Ohio, Avon Lake, and in October at Copley.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.