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Beatles Day 15

Written By Rachael Kamara

Beatles Day has become an annual gathering of musicians and music lovers like no other in the town. It is an event where fans can be guaranteed to see all their favourite local musicians under one roof, all of whom give up their time to help raise money for charity. It is an ongoing joke among those involved that it acts as a Christmas party for Hastings musicians, old and new meeting up for a jam. With over 900 bands taking part since it started that makes for one heck of a meet up.

Held at The White Rock Theatre, where it has taken place for last seven years, its success attracts over 2,000 visitors to the town each year and is now an internationally recognised event. 

The organisers have the difficult job of coordinating a very long list of musicians requesting to take part. This year 300 musicians will perform over 11 hours of live music, which is no small feat to organise as organiser Pete Prescott told us. “It’s difficult to coordinate that many people over a short period of time. We try not to let too many repeats of the same song happen on the day, but it does happen despite there being hundreds to choose from.  On the day we just have to go with it, what happens, happens. Sometimes we have to think on our feet and change it up, there are bands running all over the place over 2 floors. If they blow us away down stairs, we put them straight on upstairs. Last year, the Starrlite Beatles, organised to play on the roof of the White Rock Hotel! That’s what I love about it, you don’t know what’s on until it’s on, and sometimes we don’t always know who’s going to turn up, but that’s all part of the fun.”

A brief, history

The story starts back in Dec 2000, when Pete decided to spend the afternoon playing the B-side to Abbey Road with some of his friends at Pissarro’s – recreating a pastime from his youth that he shared with his brothers. The word spread fast, and he was inundated with requests from other local musicians to join in, an afternoon soon turned into a full day of music. The nature of the music scene in Hastings meant that Pete did not have to advertise anything.  Word of mouth created such a buzz around the event that with so many musicians involved there was little space for anyone else, the  bar area was packed out and the party continued late into the night. 

After the success of the afternoon, Pete realised he had stumbled across something special.  Only 4 months later in April the excitement and enthusiasm from other musicians led to the first ‘Beatles Day’ taking place at the old Marina Pavilion, what we now know as Azur.

Over the next three years, the popularity of the event grew until clearly, a far bigger venue would be needed. With its incredible musical history, Hastings Pier became the only obvious choice; Beatles Day Five took place in the ballroom for the first time in 2004, with over 1,300 people in the audience. Sadly due to safety concerns, Hastings Fire Service closed the pier, thankfully The White Rock Theatre agreed to host Beatles Day 2005, the event  has taken place there ever since. 

The success of the event has been down a team of volunteers all of whom work hard to pull the day together raising money for charity. Having now raised over £140,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, the organisers are looking forward to another fantastic event and hope to build on the incredible £23,000 raised in 2013, aiming to take the total raised to over £150,000 to tie in with the 15th anniversary. 

What will 2014 bring?

If you think that Beatles Day is just a conveyer belt of tribute acts then you are wrong, as Compere Andy Gunton explains. “It’s more than just a few guys doing Beatles Covers, yes there are the classic tribute acts such as the Starrlite Beatles, but there are also bands that put such a different spin on the songs, it means you never hear the same thing twice. Some Beatles songs were never performed live by the Fab Four and were only ever album tracks, so it is also a chance to see how the bands interpret those recordings for live performance. Sometimes we run early, sometimes we run late, but it can mean we end up with some of the most amazing ad hoc performances from musicians that have never rehearsed together. That could be anything from a Beatles classic to tracks that the Beatles covered in their very early days of gigging. It’s all about the individual interpretation. You might hear Penny Lane more than once, but it could be a Heavy Metal version by one band and an acoustic folk version by another.”

The day is aimed at the community on the whole, from youngsters and families to fans that were there the first time round. Taking place over two floors this year 70 bands will playing all throughout the day. Down stairs in the Sussex Hall, it is a more laid back and intimate affair, where first time performers get a platform to showcase their talent. Whilst upstairs you can expect a full stage set up with all the familiar names from the local music scene filling the stage one after the other until the doors close. As well as the fantastic bands that all give up their time to support the event there will be dance performances by local theatre groups, Acapella performances by local vocal groups and no doubt some last minute collaborations. This year ‘Don’t ever pass me by’ written by Ringo Starr, who only wrote two of the 300+ Beatles songs will be performed for the first time, if you like the idea of hearing less commercial tracks then you are in luck, as those involved have made a conscious effort to not overlap with each other, with more bands this year choosing songs that have not been performed at the event before or for several years. 

The line up for 2014 includes; Starrlite Beatles, Wax, Goo Goos, Hastings Stage Studio, Mike Hatchard, Poppy Prescott, Hornet  and Blair Witch Project. 

For more details and the full line up please visit the website:
Tickets £10.00 in adv or on the door
Children 5-14 £5.00 (Under 5 Free)
Family Ticket £25
Doors open at 12 noon. All money raised goes straight to charity.

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