By Laura Latzko
Capturing the sound and stage presence of The Beatles is no easy task. For members of The Fab Four, impersonating the group’s four iconic musicians is a continuous growth process.
The tribute band has continued to evolve over the years with the addition of new members, but it has always been dedicated to honoring The Beatles’ legacy in a reverent and respectful way.
The group will bring the experience of a live Beatles concert to the Mesa Arts Center on Friday, January 24.
The Fab Four is considered one of the top Beatles tribute bands in the world because of its close attention to detail in the presentation of their music. The group won an Emmy Award in 2013 for its PBS special “The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute.”
The performers all try to get as close as possible to the sound, look and movements of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
Having toured the world, The Fab Four recently performed in Liverpool. The group was founded in 1997 by Ron McNeil, a Lennon impersonator and the president of the Fab Four Corp.
The group has expanded over the years to include multiple casts. This started with a Las Vegas residency from 2005 to 2008, when the group did shows six nights a week.
During its shows, the group often performs a mixture of hits and lesser-known Beatles songs. The Beatles are best known for songs such as “Hey Jude,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Let It Be” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
The group’s most common lineup consists of Adam Hastings as Lennon, Ardavan Sarraf as McCartney, Bologna as Ringo Starr and Gavin Pring as Harrison.
Before starting to perform as Harrison with the Fab Four in 2006, Pring impersonated the musician as part of his show George Harry’s Son.
Pring has an added responsibility to uphold The Beatles’ legacy, as he is the lone member of the band from Liverpool.
He says capturing Harrison’s essence was natural for him.
“Being brought up in Liverpool, growing up with a similar sense of humor, that part came easy,” Pring says.
He has often coached other members on their pronunciation of certain words so that they sound more English.
Growing up, others always told Pring he looked like Harrison, whom he’s been a fan of since he was young.
“Any time I ever saw any video or pictures of The Beatles, my eyes always went to George, always watched what he was doing. I was looking at his moves, even from an early age, trying to mimic them,” Pring says.
For the show, he learned to play the ukulele and sitar. He played the drums as a kid and guitar starting at age 20, but he found the sitar especially difficult.
“The sitar has 28 strings, so it was difficult to tune the thing. Once you started to get used to it, it made more sense. My fingers bled first playing it because you use the flats of your fingers and not the ends like you do for a guitar,” Pring says.
Pring says when playing music, it is important to adhere to the Beatles style.
“What they played is your Bible. You’ve got to learn exactly what they did. We try to get as close as possible,” Pring says. “I think all of us in The Fab Four are doing a good job of representing The Beatles quite well, with respect.”
The group performs the record versions of the songs.
“Our mantra is to try to get a sound like when the needle hit the vinyl the first time,” Pring says.
Pring has played certain songs thousands of times but still enjoys performing them. “Here Comes the Sun” has special meaning because it was one of the first songs he ever played on the guitar.
“It takes me back every time I play it to the first time I picked up a guitar,” Pring says.
Like other members of the group, Pring has watched countless videos to improve upon his performance.
Over the years, his style has changed as he has started to rely more on smaller movements and gestures.
“When I was younger, I think I was eager, and some of the moves were very fast,” he says.
“As I’ve grown up a little bit more, I’ve found that subtlety is better. George had a habit of raising his lip outward because he had an extra tooth quite high up. Just doing little moves, like a lip raise instead of trying to make obvious big moves, is actually better.”
The Fab Four: The Ultimate Beatles Tribute, Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theatre, 1 E. Main Street, 480.644.6500, mesaartscenter.com, 8 p.m. Friday, January 24, $29.50-$62.50.