Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus Salute the Beatles in L.A. - Rolling Stone
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Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus Salute the Beatles in L.A.

Country artists pay tribute to the Fab Four with 50th anniversary shows

Billy Ray Cyrus performs.

Billy Ray Cyrus is among the artists honoring the Beatles at a special 50th anniversary tribute show.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Fifty years ago this month, the Beatles met Bob Dylan, tried marijuana for the first time and launched a sold-out tour of the United States. The summer tour took them to 23 different cities, including Los Angeles, where the band played the Hollywood Bowl on August 23, 1964. It was a deafening, challenging show, with the Fab Four doing their best to serenade 17,000 screaming fans without the use of stage monitors. Even so, the gig marked another victory for the so-called British Invasion, and a live release in 1977 — which included six songs from that first Hollywood Bowl appearance, along with cuts from a follow-up show in 1965 — proved that the Beatles could pack a punch even when they couldn’t hear themselves.

This weekend marks the half-century anniversary of that first L.A. appearance. To celebrate, a genre-spanning group of Beatles followers — including country crooners Martina McBride and Billy Ray Cyrus — will host three concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The music kicks off tonight, with Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart serving as the ringmaster of all three performances. Michelle Branch, Mary Lambert, Liv Warfield, Allen Stone, Australian hit maker Vanessa Amorosi and The Newlywed Game TV host Bob Eubanks (who produced the Beatles’ original appearance at the Hollywood Bowl) will also contribute throughout the weekend.

Although the lineup will slightly change every night, the shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings will all include the Beatles’ original setlist for August 23, 1964, from the opening number, “Twist and Shout,” to the set-closing cover of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” The second half of each gig will focus on songs that hadn’t been written by that point, including “Strawberry Fields,” “Hey Jude” and “Blackbird.”


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