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Beatlemania Hits British Embassy Ball By Les Charlton
November 2000

The transformation is astonishing. Meet up with Britain's Cavern Beatles pop group between performances, and you find yourself talking to four charming, well-mannered guys as anonymous in appearance as it's possible to be.

See them on stage as did 600 guests at this year's annual British Embassy Ball and you find yourself rubbing your eyes, and finding it hard to believe your ears, at the seeming reincarnation of the famous mop-haired original Beatles themselves. The Cavern Beatles are that good, making them arguably the world's top impersonators of the Fab Four. Which is why the embassy's ball committee brought them all the way from the UK for a one-night stand, their first appearance in China.

Not only do the Cavern Beatles contrive to largely look and sound like the group which captivated the music world and dominated the charts after honing their skills at Liverpool's dingy Cavern club in the 60s, they have mastered all the mannerisms of John, Paul, George and Ringo. And as they proved 10 years ago when they won a British national TV talent contest, they are all accomplished instrumentalists/singers in their own right. The moment the four blasted their first chords at the Kerry Center Hotel's main ballroom, embassy guests were mesmerized into surging onto the dance floor ... where they stayed until breakfast beckoned. British Ambassador Sir Anthony Goldsworthy seemed tempted to join them, but was content with a bit of foot-tapping.

Thoroughly jet-lagged and musically spent as dawn broke, the Cavern Beatles said goodbye to many new friends in Beijing and headed for the airport. The very next evening saw them take the stage at a northern England seaside resort. Back to reality, but I wouldnt change a thing about my marvelous life of almost daily paying homage to the Beatles. Nor would any of us, smiled drummer Ringo, Roy Hitchen, who two years ago left a secure but mundane job in England to fulfil his ambition of joining the Cavern Beatles.

The three other members of the group are Paul McDonough (John Lennon), Richard Alan (George Harrison), and Derek Stratton  (Paul McCartney). The Cavern Beatles was originally formed a decade ago by Alan and Stratton with two other musicians who later left the group. They were replaced by McDonough and Hitchen. All four, like the original Beatles, hail from Liverpool.

Such is the band's reputation that it has toured Europe on more than 20 occasions, and appeared in the Middle East, Australia and the United States. Said Stratton: We have been bowled over by the warmth of our reception in Beijing, and would love to come back one day. It would also be great to perform in other parts of Asia.