Rock & Roll Rivalry

While The Beatles led the charge during the British Invasion, The Rolling Stones were right on their heels when they too crossed the pond testing the musical waters on American soil. They didn’t merely just dip their toes in the water, they made a splash with ripples that are still felt to this day. What both groups found were teenagers everywhere who were more than eager to embrace these new sounds and styles that totally went against the grain of the music their parents were listening to — making it that much more attractive. It was a “revolution” of a musical kind, and the kids couldn’t get enough. Their stories are those of rock and roll legends.
So when you’re talking all-time greatest rock bands ever, The Beatles are right up there at the top…but then, so are The Rolling Stones. Both groups are great for different reasons, considering their enormous contributions to music history, and the fans who continue to be loyal listeners passing their songs on to future generations.
For those who ponder which group is the ultimate best, a show has been created to let fans make up their own minds in a musical battle of the bands, if you will, through a show that brings both bands together in tribute form on one stage, called “Beatles vs. Stones.”
These two legendary bands engage in an on-stage mash-up duel, a musical “shoot out of the hits” featuring well-known tribute bands, Abbey Road and Jumping Jack Flash who return to the Fiesta Showroom within Harrah’s Laughlin, Thursday-Monday, July 5-16.
“Arguably, two of the most popular tribute acts in the country are the Beatles or the Stones in every market, which is usually led by Johnny Cash and Elvis,” said Andy Nagle, show producer. “The reason we went with Beatles vs. Stones is because of the natural rivalry that existed if you grew up in the ’60s. It’s like you followed either the Stones or the Beatles, but not usually both. So we put these two in a show that is fun and well received.
“People love the Beatles and/or they love the Stones it’s a good show with good music that’s so different and some of the jokes play off their rivalry.
“The cast is fun and they’re all seasoned musicians and each band has three costume changes in the show. It’s structured into six mini sets, with the Beatles out first in mop tops and ‘Sullivan’ suits and do a short 22-minute set of some of the early songs. Then the Stones take the stage and in between there’s a 10-second video. It keeps people interested so that they stay until the end because they want to see what the next set is going to be. Then both bands come together on stage at the end and do a mash up of a couple of the songs.
“It’s scripted dialogue that’s kind of tongue-in-cheek about the debate between the two bands, yet it’s a kind of reintroduction to the music that’s so danceable and upbeat,” Nagel added.
He said the banter and the jokes are all in good fun.
“The Stones come out after the first set performed by the Beatles, and ‘Mick’ says something like, ‘Hey, Keith, did you catch the name of the opening act?’ He replies, ‘No, but we’ll work it out…they had matching suits, maybe they’re the Monkees.’ It’s that kind of teasing back and forth,” Nagel said.
The show has been in existence since 2011 and has performed a three-month residency at Harrah’s Reno and is in rotation at some of the largest clubs in Southern California including the House of Blues in San Diego, the Coach House, the Canyon, the Belly Up and Saint Rocke. The show also has headlined the Orange County and San Diego County Fairs.
“Beatles vs. Stones” has also toured Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Nagel said while the show promotes a rivalry, it’s not so much a serious competition.
“The guys in the bands will ask the audience who won the battle of the bands, but it isn’t a voting thing per say. It’s all in fun,” he said. “The audience is the winner, and there won’t be a definitive winner between the two bands.”
So who are the guys in the bands?
Abbey Road is Nate Bott as John Lennon, Chris Paul Overall as Paul McCartney, Zak Schaffer as George Harrison and Axel Clarke as Ringo Starr. Jumping Jack Flash is Joey Infante as Mick, Young Hutchison as Keith Richards, Pat Hennessy as Brian Jones/Ronnie Woods, Jon McCracken as Charlie Watts and Matt Quilter as Bill Wyman.
“Mick, Paul and John were the hardest ones to cast because Paul has to have a four-octave range and has to play the bass left-handed. If he doesn’t, Beatles fans are not forgiving,” he said. “Mick has to have the right body frame and because they’re boy bands, you have to cast them as young as 22 to 32.”
While putting the two bands together makes sense musically, the biggest challenge in putting this show together would have to be which songs to play and which songs to leave out.
“That is a tough one because the Beatles alone had 31 No. 1 songs,” he said. “That alone could be a 90-minute show. We have 120 minutes so we have to cut out half the No. 1 songs. It is difficult. In places where we’re there for more than one night, we change up the set list every night. Both bands can play both the Beatles’ and Stones’ catalogs but we don’t mash up songs, we play them all the way through. Timing determines what songs flow with others in the set.”
Which songs have to be in the mix no matter where they perform?
“If we don’t put ‘Hey Jude’ in there at some point, people go crazy. We have to play all the iconic early ones from both groups,” he said. “Since 2011, the show has been touring non-stop. The guys in the show don’t have day gigs, they make their living doing this and it’s been playing all over the world and when they’re home, they play in rotation at the area casinos and clubs in Southern California. These guys live for this and love playing music they enjoy.
“It’s the most infamous rivalry in rock and roll that never played out in a public arena—until now.”


BEATLES VS. STONES

The Fiesta Showroom at Harrah’s

Thursday-Monday, July 5-16 (8 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for tickets