Swindon band comes together again to honour The Beatles

Ludwig Beatles Garry Illsley, Mike York and Pete Townsend get ready to reunite

Performing in the Town Gardens Bowl in 2000

First published in News by

I MET John, Paul and George in an upstairs room at Riffs Bar, near Hook.

Ringo would have been there too, but he was held up in traffic and fog.

It is nearly 44 years since the Fab Four gave their last public performance, on the roof of the Apple building in London, and more than 50 since their sole Swindon show at the old McIlroys Ballroom.

Fortunately for local fans, one of the best tributes in the business is gearing up for only their second reunion gig since splitting a decade or so ago.

It is tomorrow at Riffs, with love from them to you.

The name of the Ludwig Beatles will be instantly recognisable to countless music fans both across Swindon and beyond.

Together for nearly as long as the real thing, they played hundreds of gigs in Britain and across Europe.

“I like to think of it as a tribute to the Beatles rather than a Beatles tribute act,” said Pete Townsend; no, not that Pete Townsend, but Pete Townsend the veteran Swindon musician, who takes John Lennon’s share of vocals and rhythm guitar.

The other members are Mike Yorke as George, Garry Illsley as Paul and Steve Gobey as Ringo.

Pete, Mike and Garry are also members of Locomotion, the hard working Swindon pop, rock and soul band that has been a favourite live draw for many years.

Pete said of the Ludwig Beatles: “We don’t try to reproduce the exact sound of the records, we just like to think of it as a celebration of Beatles music.

“I like to think the show nowadays is more how the Beatles would have done it on stage with just the four of them.”

This means the Ludwig Beatles – named for Ringo’s chosen brand of drumkit – must perform not just early hits, such as Twist and Shout and She Loves You, but also tracks created during the studio years that followed their last official concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

This is no mean feat, with just two guitars, bass and drums.

As Mike Yorke put it: “It’s not easy to do Sergeant Pepper in a theatre show.”

The band was formed in about 1992 and went through some line-up changes during their nine years together.

Unlike the real Beatles, they didn’t split because of artistic differences or internal unrest; they simply wanted to do other things.

“After nine years of being John Lennon,” said Pete, “it can be a bit much. Everybody was exhausted and needed a rest.”

Although they have performed Beatles songs more often than many people have played the records, each member of the Ludwig Beatles still loves the music of the Liverpool band.

“It’s like Beethoven,” said Pete. “Before the Beatles, it was Beethoven. The Beatles took over in 1962 and they’re going the same way now. In 100 or 200 years’ time, they’ll be perceived as being like Beethoven.”

Tomorrow’s show at Riffs starts at 7pm and admission will cost £5. Further information is available at www.riffsbar.com/gig-guide

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