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PULSE LIFELINE: 1964 Tribute

Name: Mark Benson Background Story: He is John Lennon in the “1964”The Tribute” Beatles Tribute Band Inspirations: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jimmy Hendrix Next Show: Centennial Terrance – Sylvania, Ohio (tickets available at Ticketmaster) For Future Performance Information: Featured on: Entertainment Tonight, CNN, the USA Network, PM Magazine, Nashville Network, “Best Major Concert Act” and “Best Contemporary Act” by the readers of Campus Activities Today Magazine

Who couldn’t resist an interview with John Lennon? Well” Mark Benson may not be the “real thing” but as far as everything is concerned, he’s pretty damn close. While on the road between performances with “1964”The Tribute,” one of the best Beatles tribute bands in the world (don’t just take my word for it – they were dubbed the “best tribute band on earth” by Rolling Stone magazine) Benson took time to talk with me about what it was like to be” John Lennon:

How did you get involved in music? Oh boy, since I was 5-6 years old. I was always interested in the musical sound. I played musical instruments throughout my life, such as the drums, but you couldn’t carry drums to a party, so I switched to guitar.

And how long have you been performing as the Beatles Tribute band? We’ve performed for about 24 years.

What has it been like performing in the band? Is there a lot of research and studying you guys do to learn your characters, or is it still more of a focus simply on learning the music? It’s a combination of everything, performing music and also acting. You have to find something in the character that you relate to. But there is a lot of research that goes into it as well. It’s different than just covering a song.

What kind of research have you all done for your parts? Well having grown up in the 60s we saw it as we grew up. As Americans we were enchanted with English accents in our musical lives. But we’ve also done a lot of research on the side, reading a lot, watching old tapes and performances, stuff like that.

And how did you end up doing the part of John Lennon? I own the station wagon so I got the part. Haha, if I don’t get to be John then they’re out of luck. But really, also it’s really the part that I can do best! Take Gary Grimes, who plays Paul McCartney. He’s played right-handed guitar all his life, so he actually learned how to play left-handed just for the show.

Wow, that’s really impressive. It was hard, but he does a great job with it, and he also plays the part really well, voice and all!

Okay, so now the traditional random question, if you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Hm, the superpower to cure the common cold. I would be “Cold Man.” Haha.

That would be amazing. I bet also with all the traveling it’s easy to get tired and more susceptible to illness as well, being worn-out. Actually, one of the biggest ways to get sick while on tour is from shaking hands and traveling in airplane, through meeting all these different people. You really have to be careful to stay healthy.

Speaking of performances and meeting fans, what goes on at a typical show? Is it more a stage performance, or more of a musical concert? The purpose of the performances is to show people what it was like to go to a Beatles concert.

Do you have any favorite songs? I love all of the music from that era, how it’s energetic, but very innocent. An unusual combination. But I enjoy the little less known songs such as “For No One” and “Yes It Is.”

What have some of your favorite performances been? We’ve played at Carnegie Hall seven times, and sold-out Red Rock in Colorado, as well as played in Liverpool and London which was just amazing. Also we played for the reunification of Germany, when the two leaders signed, we played at that event. It was great, The Beatles’ music is just something everyone is able to connect to and be on the same level with. It’s universal.

That must have been amazing to play at the reunification. It was an amazing opportunity, we’ve really been amazed in general about the success of the show. We never expected this to be full time. We were as surprised as anyone with the success, it’s stuff we could have never imagined. We’re just all such fans of music, it’s a vehicle that opens doors. We’ve even played for Paul and Ringo before.

With all the success and the fact you are a tribute group dedicated to being as accurate a representation as you can to The Beatles, do you feel any pressure with Paul and Ringo watching to meet a certain standard? It’s more a pressure we put on ourselves to play up to our own standards we feel. They [Paul and Ringo] can’t be the Beatles anymore, and there are so many people that play tribute, we are just out there to play homage to the ones who influenced us in a positive way.

Final question. Who would win in a fight, a penguin or a badger? After seeing the penguins in the Happy Feet film, I’d have to say a penguin, because man those guys can dance.

For those keeping score it’s Badger – 1, Penguin – 2, and if you are interested in seeing more, visit their Web site at or check them out this Saturday at Sylvania. Tickets are available at Check back next week for more exclusive interviews with the Pulse Lifeline.

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