On stages all over the world, musician and performer Steve Landes faces the challenge and lives the fantasy of personifying one of rock music’s most iconic and talented musicians and songwriters: John Lennon. First there was Beatlemania, formed in 1980 and one of the longest-running Beatles tribute bands in the world. Now there’s RAIN, a hit Broadway musical in which Landes frequently dons the dark sunglasses and Sgt. Pepper uniform alongside his band mates as Lennon. The faux-Beatle’s career was rooted at home, listening to Beatles records like millions of other fans and teaching himself to play guitar at age 10.
“I found out about The Beatles from my parents,” Landes says. “They were Beatles fans. I grew up with that music and listening to my parents’ records, and I wanted to be a musician. Then I went to a Beatlemania show and thought I wanted to somehow be able to play their music. Now I perform the best music ever recorded.”
When he auditioned for Beatlemania at age 17, Landes says he “just fit with the band, musically,” particularly when it came to vocal harmonizing with “Paul McCartney.” After touring the world with Beatlemania, he auditioned for and joined RAIN in 1998, where in his role as Lennon he was nominated for a BroadwayWorld.com Award for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical.” Landes’ acting skills (he had a role in the Tim Burton film Mars Attacks!) also help him to get inside the persona of John Lennon.
“The Beatles were the greatest musical group,” Landes says, “and if you’re going to pay tribute to them, you’ve got to hone your skills and be able to sing and play.”
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