Opening For the Beatles, 1966
Bassist Vern Miller played with the Remains during the band’s 1964-1966 run.
We said we’d never do it again. That was it. I mean, we’d already opened for the likes of The Kingsmen, Chuck Berry, The Dave Clark Five, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Bo Diddley, The Isley Brothers, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, the list goes on. So… new band rule. “No more opening act for anybody. We’re The Remains and from now on we’re going to headline our own shows.”
We stick to the plan until late Spring of 1966 when Bob Bonus of GAC (General Artists Corporation) comes to us and says, “How would you boys like to be the opening act for The Beatles’ tour this coming summer?” Well, it’s been said that rules were made to be broken and without hesitation, we said “Yes.”
A couple of months later, we’re on the road with The Beatles, sharing their chartered jet and opening every show on what became their last ever U.S. tour. This was both exciting and humbling. Here we were touring and hanging out with the biggest act in history, listening to Indian Sitar music with George, talking about guitars with John, watching TV with Ringo, standing on the tarmac next to Paul while the plane is re-fueled, talking about record production with George Martin.
Living the dream from the inside is different than the view from the outside. A grueling traveling and performing schedule left little time for sleep or seeing any of the sights in the cities where we played. For the most part, our world was the inside of the plane, the stadiums we performed in, and our hotel rooms. As the initial thrill began to wear off and my personal vision became clearer, two things became very evident to me.
First, this life of fame and fortune was taking its toll on The Beatles, collectively and individually. They had become old souls in young bodies. Their success, while providing them with all the material gains anyone might wish for, was also depriving them of the freedom to live life on their own terms or just take a walk down to the local pub for a beer and a burger. Each was striving to develop his own personal identity outside of the confines of the group. They were growing in different directions musically and spiritually. They were writing music that really deserved focused listening which was never going to happen through the din of screaming fans in a baseball stadium. The writing on the wall indicated a change was imminent.
Secondly, The Remains would never do what The Beatles had done. There was only one Number One and they were it. This was a big lesson in humility and learning to appreciate what you are, do and have for what it is. And, even if we could do what they did, my newly acquired dose of insight would refer me back to the previous paragraph.
After The Beatles’ tour, The Remains broke up and each went our separate ways. But the bond between us four original bandmates never broke. Every so often our recordings would be re-released and/or we would get together and play. It was uncanny how we’d just always pick up where we left off the last time we played together. We were and are to this day very closely connected musically and spiritually. Perhaps the fact that we never did achieve that pinnacle of fame and fortune has given us the gift of an everlasting appreciation for life and each other. Perhaps it is because of our disbanding after The Beatles’ tour that we are all still alive and physically and mentally able to continue playing together 46 years after the formation of The Remains.
Rock and roll bands come and go. Very few bands from the past are still intact with the original band members living, let alone speaking to each other and able to perform. To this day, we are very close friends with a sincere appreciation for each other as musicians and human beings. There is no pressure to succeed or “make it.” We just do this because we love to and there are a lot of people out there (old and young) who want to hear and see us. This is all a gift with the understanding that nothing ever really lasts forever. It’s all on loan and we’re grateful for that and the opportunity to share it with each other and anyone else who wants to listen.
I’d like to think that, perhaps, The Remains just might be an exception to the rule.
Published on February 20, 2013