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Here come the Sun Kings

A band honoring the music of The Beatles, the Sun Kings, from left, Drew Harrison, Peter LoMenzo, Michael Barrett, Bill Zupko and Steve Scarpelli.
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The suggestion that a Beatles tribute band play “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was shot down by some of its members because the song is “too obscure.” Which inspires the question, Is any Beatles song obscure?

The answer is no, because:

– It is the best-selling band ever, and Billboard magazine ranked the band No. 1 all time.



– The Beatles are so big, it is the only band to have its named spelled in the dictionary with a capital “T.”

– The band can be credited for saving rock ‘n’ roll by leading the British Invasion in 1964.



n It is so popular there are a litany of Beatles tribute bands, including the (lowercase “t”) Sun Kings, who don’t wear mop hairdos or dress like the Fab Four.

There are, in fact, five Sun Kings. The so-called fifth Beatle, Billy Preston, was the band’s studio keyboard player, a black gay man with a huge afro.

“We have a Billy lookalike,” said the group’s rhythm guitarist. “He’s a balding, straight, white guy.”

Playing the role of John Lennon is Drew Harrison, who says he does not mind repeated jokes about not being George. George Harrison’s lead guitar is played by Bill Zupko. Right-handed Peter LoMenzo is bass, which was played by Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr’s drums by Steve Scarpelli. The balding, straight, white guy who does producer George Martin’s orchestrations on a keyboard and Paul’s vocals is Michael Barrett.

“We capture the spirit of the music,” Harrison said. “There’s a lot of pent up energy in youthful rock ‘n’ roll. The Beatles, they brought out the exuberance. It’s a great exercise to keep that vitality. Not just the music, but to keep that little spark.

“We know we’re a tribute band and were playing someone else’s material. Let’s have some fun with it and play it like it’s being played for the first time with that Beatlemania-esque energy that was seen at Shea Stadium.”

Saying the gear is more important that the voice, Harrison plays a replica of Lennon’s 1965 Epiphone Sunburst guitar.

The Sun Kings coalesced 10 years ago, and its popularity radically increased about four or five years ago,” said Harrison, who estimates his band has now played more live shows than did The Beatles. It has 140 songs from which to choose.


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