Long before tribute bands became popular, a Los Angeles group called Reign set out to duplicate the sound of The Beatles' recordings.
It was 1975, only a few years after the Fab Four broke up and fans were eager to still hear their songs. The band's popularity took off and the group changed its name to Rain in honor of a song on the B-side of the Beatles' 45 "Paperback Writer."
The band built up a national following, performing in casinos, on cruise ships, at state fairs and, in 2010-11, on Broadway. The musicians in the group have changed over the years, but the sound has stayed the same.
Now, Rain is headed to Modesto for shows Tuesday and Wednesday at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
The group tells the story of The Beatles through the music, performing early classics like "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to later hits like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Let It Be." Video projections show what was going on at the time The Beatles performed.
"There's no dialogue," said Steve Landes, who plays John Lennon. "In the character of The Beatles, we introduce the songs and we talk with each other the way they would.
"It's a concert, but with costume changes and sets."
Landes is a lifelong second-generation Beatles fan. He learned about the group from his parents and older sisters, who were small children when the band was performing. He discovered his sisters' stash of Beatles' T-shirts and posters in the attic and started listening to their music. As he grew older, he set out to learn the band's songs, and he became skilled enough to win a part in the musical "Beatlemania."
Landes auditioned and got a spot in the band Rain in 1998 and has stayed with the group ever since. His respect for Lennon has grown since he joined the group. "I get into his character not only learning how the songs go and the chords and lyrics, but I sort of delve into why he wrote the songs the way he did, how his personality affected the songs and vice versa. As a songwriter, I see the genius he put into his music."
Landes said his work in "Rain" also has given him more admiration for the other Beatles: Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. "It really gives me a completely new impression of what they went through," he said.
Landes never met any of The Beatles, but he did meet Lennon's son Sean and his wives, Yoko Ono and Cynthia Lennon, as well as his former girlfriend May Pang. "They are very genuine, down-to-earth they always have good things to say about The Beatles as far as who they were, their true personalities."
Landes said they liked the show and he hopes those who attend the Modesto performances will, too. The show is appropriate for all ages and should be appealing to both Beatles fans and novices.
"It's a positive message the music of The Beatles," he said. "The great thing about them, what keeps them relevant today, is their music their lyrics were a positive message of love and peace."
WHAT: "Rain A Tribute to the Beatles"
WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
WHEN: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100