1979 ‘Beatlemania’ arrives from Broadway NY to London’s West End at The Astoria Theatre in October and four British hopefuls (Neil Harrison, Andre Barreau, David Catlin-Birch and Jack Lee Elgood) become the UK cast from November onwards.
1980 ‘Beatlemania’ closes in February after a short run and ‘look-alike band’ The Bootleg Beatles is formed, signing up to the late Brian Epstein’s NEMS Agency. Their first gig is a college shindig in Tiverton, Devon on 26th March. The band cut their teeth playing clubs and colleges around the UK and are booked to play The Star Club later in the year but the famed venue goes bankrupt on the day the band are leaving for Hamburg!
1981 A 27-date tour in Israel ends with a change of drummer with Geoff Britton (formerly of Wings) briefly joining before Rick Rock from punk band Sham 69 takes over on Ringo duties.
1982 A second five week stint in Israel is followed by a forty date tour of the Soviet Union in the autumn, following in the footsteps of Elton John’s two-man show, the BBs become the first ever western rock band to tour the USSR performing to 10,000 people a night.
1984 The US ‘Twenty Years Ago Today’ Tour sees the group arrive exactly twenty years to the day after The Fab Four in New York on the same numbered Pan Am flight. The tour is tough and eventually stalls in the mid-west some six weeks later. ‘Out on first class – home on cargo!’
1985 The BBs keep performing concerts around the globe continuing touring with sell-out concerts in the Far East Far, India and Europe.
1987 The band headlines The Liverpool Beatles Convention for the first time and see Liverpudlian Paul Cooper who joins as the band’s new Paul McCartney. That same year Bjorn Again and The Australian Doors come to Britain and so along with the Bootleg Beatles the term ‘tribute band scene’ is coined.
1990 The band decide to book a run of city-for-city concerts to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the Beatles last ever British Tour with a particularly riotous reception at The King’s Theatre in Glasgow – The Bootleg Beatles annual UK tour is established.
1992 The UK tour continues to expand and the group play The London Palladium and The Liverpool Empire in their own right for the first time.
1993 The band decides to incorporate a seven piece live orchestra to tour with them in the UK, keeping faithful to their long held ‘everything live, no orchestral synthesizer, no recording’ policy.
1994 The Bootlegs headline Acoustic Stage as they play Glastonbury for the first time, watched by members of Oasis, Blur and Cast. Later that year The Bootlegs record their own five-part TV series in Tokyo – followed by a two-month tour of Europe culminating in the first of many Albert Hall concerts.
1995 The Budokan Stadium, the revered Tokyo venue is sold-out as The Bootlegs recreate The Beatles’ famous concerts there from 1966. An amazing year for the group sees the Bootleg Beatles play the main stage at The Glastonbury Festival, coming on prior to Plant & Page, while in November, Oasis invite the band to support them for their historic two nights at Earl’s Court, culminating with a shared performance of ‘I Am The Walrus’ on the last night.
1996 The Zenith of Brit Pop are Oasis’s two Knebworth concerts which feature the Bootlegs opening the two day event. Earlier in the year they play in front of, and then meet, former Beatle George Harrison at Dave Gilmore of Pink Floyd’s Birthday Bash, where George enquires during their friendly encounter – “Who’s the Bootleg Brian Epstein ‘cos he’s got all the money?!”. The group do a series of out-of-costume concerts at The Edinburgh Festival named ‘Unplugged and Unrugged’.
1997 The most important event of the year for the BBs is whren they kick off the emotional Hillsborough Justice Concert at Anfield, Liverpool in May; also on the bill are the Sterophonics, the Manic Street Preachers, The Beautiful South and the Lighting Seeds.
1998 Now established as a regular festival band, the group support Rod Stewart at Wembley Stadium. The following year the Bootlegs are the last band to play at the old Wembley Stadium at a gig featuring Elton John and football legend Pele in the audience.
The band also support, Simple Minds, The Coors and David Bowie.
1999 30th January and The Bootleg Beatles become only the second ever group to play on the roof of 3 Savile Row as they recreate The Beatles’ famous Rooftop concert on top of their Apple Headquarters. The streets of W1 come to a standstill just as they did thirty years before.
2000 George Martin is a guest at Phil Collins 50th birthday bash as the original Genesis reform for one night only, with Phil getting on stage to perform a selection of songs from A Hard Day’s Night with The Bootlegs. V2000 invites The Bootlegs to open proceedings for All Saints, Travis and Macy Gray.
2001 The Bootlegs play to 10,000 strong crowd at Ledreborg Castle, Denmark; a concert that starts their enduring relationship with the wonderful RUO Concert Orchestra, playing a ten-date tour in Denmark every year.
2002 With David Catlin Birch back in the line up, The Bootlegs are invited to open proceedings at Her Majesty The Queen’s 40th Anniversary celebrations Jubilee Buckingham Palace with Paul McCartney headlining. The band meet Paul after the concert who jokingly threatens to come to the next Bootleg gig and heckle from the stalls!
2005 The band return to BBC TV Centre once more to earn their fourth Blue Peter Badge as they celebrate their Twenty Fifth Anniversary Tour to rave reviews from The Sunday Mail and The Daily Telegraph.
2007 The Bootleg Beatles embark on a vast South America tour, encompassing Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Knee deep in the Glastonbury mud The BBs still pack out the Acoustic Stage once more – even as The Who take to stage the down the hill at Worthy Farm.
2010 Several BBC TV appearances include The One & Only, The One Show, & I’m In A Rock & Roll Band on top of which the Bootlegs gather the largest Glastonbury Acoustic Stage crowd for five years. The band’s annual tours of the Benelux region and Scandinavia continue to grow a pace, alongside their thirty-date UK Tour, including their fifteenth Albert Hall concert.
2011 Adam Hastings joins The Bootlegs as Neil Harrison retires from his role as John Lennon. Amongst many highlights of the year is the band’s concert at Glastonbury with Status Quo and a tour of Russia spreading as far as Siberia.
2012 The band finally tours Australia. The shows are an amazing success and the band will perform two further concerts in the autumn of 2012 before going on to tour NZ, Singapore and Hong Kong. On 5th October, the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘Love Do Me’ Steve White officially joins the line up as David Catlin Birch steps down as Paul.
2013 In a packed year the highlight is the Bootlegs’ superb Glastonbury performance, playing opposite the Rolling Stones and garnering excellent reviews in a head to head with the ‘Greatest Rock & Roll band in the world’. The next day the band leave for a coast to coast tour of Australia followed by a two week concert tour of Latin America.
2014 Andre Barreau plays his last gig as Bootleg George as the band support Tom Jones at Hyde Park passing his plectrum on to Steve Hill formerly from the production Let It Be. The band tours the Philippines and plays an amazing one off show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire featuring just two LPs in their entirety – A Hard Day’s Night & Abbey Road.
2015 Another busy year for the Bootlegs with another belting Glastonbury show; No 8 in total. The group also followed the 1965 footsteps of the Beatles themselves, playing sell-out concerts at the Plaza de Torros Bullring in Madrid and La Monumental, Barcelona. The group also played their fourth tour of Australia and a string of European festivals. BBC’s the One Show featured the boys once more – this time with a ‘Bootleg’ Morecambe and Wise.
2016 Gordon Elsmore, former cast member of the West End show Let It be, joins the Bootleg Beatles playing his debut at Halifax Civic Hall in March. The band jet off a lengthy tour of Latin America in April. A follow-up tour of the Philippines and then on to Australia for another 12 date tour Down Under. December brings round the Bootleg’s 26th UK Christmas Tour.
2017 The Highlight of the year are a string of Concerts with the Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of St Pepper, starting with a sell-out performance at the Albert Hall on the actual day. Poet and former scaffold Roger McGough is the compere. In June, the Bootleg’s played the main stage at Glastonbury for the first time since 1995 performing the entire Sgt Pepper album with the 16 piece, Pepperland Symphonia.
2018 The year begins with a packed reprise of the Sgt Pepper concert at the Echo Arena Liverpool.
In August, Tyson Kelly joins the Bootleg Beatles as John Lennon. The band immediately began rehearsals for the start of their ‘White Album’ world tour, taking in the Middle East, Philippines and Australia, before returning straight from the airport to play ‘Birthday’ live on TV for the 30th anniversary of ITV’s ‘This Morning’ and continuing with their annual UK tour.
2019 The 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road brings another collaboration with the RLPO – this time the Liverpool Phil is the date that matches the album’s release – 27th Sept. The show, ‘And In The End…’ is a huge success and the late Neil Innes’ contribution to proceedings is beyond wonderful. In November, the group sells out its tour of New Zealand and then fills the State Theatre, Sydney – performing an electric concert to an ecstatic audience.
2020 A tour of Denmark, Holland and Belgium takes the band to late February and then…Covid 19. The BB 2020 Spring Tour is off – as are the remainder of the Abbey Road Shows (rescheduled) and the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury where the BBs were honoured to be on the same bill as Paul McCartney. The virus continues to devastate the band’s calendar, although there are a smattering outdoor shows and another visit to Television Centre to perform on This Morning.