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1964 The Tribute plays in Bicentennial Park in Asheboro on Friday night.   Eric Abernathy / Randolph Hub

Where were you when …

Very few events in life have such an impact that they leave you remembering, decades later, where you were and what you were doing.


For instance, I know that I was in class during my junior year of high school when Mr. Thomas stuck his head in the door and announced that President Kennedy had died.


But those happenings don’t have to be traumatic to be memorable. 


Last Friday night, I was taken back 60 years to a time that I now cherish. I was at the first of this summer’s Rock’n the Park Concerts at Bicentennial Park.


The headline group was 1964: The Tribute, considered by Rolling Stone Magazine as the best Beatles tribute band on earth. As I listened to familiar song after familiar song, I was again a high school student.


I can even remember the first time I heard the Beatles. It was near the end of 1963 and I was riding back from basketball practice with teammates, the car radio playing.


On the AM station, I heard “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and my first thought was, “This is different.” From the opening guitar riff to the upbeat music to the voices, I just knew something had changed.


Later in the school library, I picked up a magazine with a cover story on the Beatles. I was hooked on the Fab Four from that day forward.


There were John, Paul, George and Ringo. Everybody seemed to have a favorite, so I chose George, since he was the quiet one.


It seemed like the entire country was watching in 1964 when the Beatles appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Then as the boys came out with new recordings, I would check with the local radio station in hopes of hearing the latest.


When the Beatles movie “A Hard Day's Night” came out that year, I watched it with a full audience at the Carolina Theater, paying closer attention to the music than to the plot. Later, I found that it’s not a bad film, as those sorts of attempts to profit off popularity usually are.


I heard “If I Fell” while at Myrtle Beach the summer of ’64. I was walking around the amusement park when the song was played on the loudspeakers.


There were so many songs by the Beatles and they provided so many memories. And I can remember the words — something unusual for a boy who pays more attention to the beat and the rhythm. 


So why were the Beatles so revolutionary? I believe it was not only the sound but also the timing.

Tom Hanks gave the induction speech into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the Dave Clark Five, who followed the Beatles during the British Invasion. Tom noted that in the fall of 1963, the nation was in mourning after JFK’s assassination. Radios were playing dirge music for weeks, it seemed. 


Then came that happy sound from across the Pond.


All that came flooding back Friday night as I listened to the tribute band. I was back in high school tapping my feet to “She Loves You” and “Day Tripper.”


I looked around at the crowd and saw so many others singing along, clapping and tapping their feet. Yes, I thought, they get it, too.


Then I remembered “A Hard Day's Night” when the Beatles were playing in a theater and the camera kept panning the mostly-girl audience. They were yelling and screaming and going bonkers.


But there was one girl who was so emotional at seeing the band in person that she was shedding tears.


For a moment Friday night, I almost felt like that girl. The emotions kicked in as I was reliving that long-ago time. 


After the concert, I had a chance to talk to “John,” the only original member of 1964: The Tribute. I told him how much their music means to us Baby Boomers. He said that’s what they try to evoke.


He said he tells new members of the band not to stress. “We only have to be as good as the Beatles,” he laughed.


For one night, they were every bit as good at the Beatles.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.