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Beatlemania descends at Edgewater retro-party
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Beatlemania descends at Edgewater retro-party

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

August 21, 1964 was an important day for rock music in Seattle, and it had nothing to do with Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, or the yet-to-be-born Death Cab for Cutie.

On this day, four young men - the pride of England and undeniably the world's biggest stars - landed in the Queen City (as Seattle was known back then) at 1:40 p.m. by private airplane to give a sold-out performance at the then-Seattle Center Coliseum (now Key Arena). This was not only The Beatles' first descent to the Puget Sound area, but their first-ever tour in the United States and only their third appearance in a country as obnoxiously crazy about them as back home in the U.K.

The Beatles' home base in Seattle was the famed over-the-water Edgewater Hotel, the only property in Seattle willing to put them up for the night and put up with frenzied fans who waited outside from morning till night for a glimpse of this mega act. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison shared a single room, #272, and at one point stuck fishing poles out from their second floor suite, captured monumentally by local photographers. The Beatles were so upset with rumors that the hotel staff wanted to sell their bedsheets, they urinated on them in protest. Eventually, carpet squares were made available for purchase at a downtown department store.

How fitting for the Edgewater to host a Beatles tribute party 45 years later, on the exact day the famous foursome rested their shaggy 'dos on this now-legendary hotel's pillows. The commemorative bash was held Friday night in the Six Seven lounge, emceed by radio personality Mark Christopher and attended by a roomful of Fab Four faithful, some of whom were lucky enough to be at the quartet's 1964 concert here in Seattle. Before introducing Beatles tribute band Creme Tangerine, Christopher read letters from several fans who recounted the thrill of that historic day. Suddenly, the place felt crammed, as every seat and practically the entire bar was occupied.

Creme Tangerine began an hour-long set with a medley of Beatles hits, including "Come Together," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Get Back," "Magical Mystery Tour," and "Hello, Goodbye." The impressive-sounding ensemble then played full versions of Fab Four tunes as party guests clapped their hands, sang along loudly, boogied, and reminisced about the good ol' days. Nearby, a Beatles diehard, perhaps a groupie from back when, knew each word to every song and proceeded to dance wildly all by herself, and later in the show invited herself to the stage area with the band, but was then pushed away by the lead singer.

Two songs got the whole room swinging: "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" and "Twist and Shout." Folks representing various generations found whatever space they could to strut, some with partners and others by themselves. There were fans in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and even grandparent-aged couples excitedly joined in the festivities - Beatles songs were possibly played at their proms or wedding receptions because the looks on their faces displayed decades of adoration.

More Beatles numbers followed, including a touching rendition of "Hey Jude" and a rousing version of "Back in the USSR." Sadly, my personal favorite, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," was left off the set list.

A Beatles look-alike contest was sandwiched between portions of Creme Tangerine's performance, and the winner was a dapper Ringo Starr mirror image, who actually used black eyeliner for a beard. Second place went to an attractive John Lennon replica, a husband/father with a lovely wife who sat at my table following the final judging.

My friends and I had a lot of fun singing, dancing, and celebrating the iconic rock 'n' roll group's inaugural trip to our very own city, and knowing they stayed overnight just two floors above us made it that much more special.

Top notch rock bands, such as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, stayed at the Edgewater Hotel in the years that followed. "The Beatles Suite" can be reserved at www.edgewaterhotel.com.

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