The Hippo


Apr 25, 2019








Beatlejuice and Friends

When: Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m.
Where: 64 East Broadway, Derry

Fab fortitude
Beatlejuice carries on, smiling

By Michael Witthaus

 For drummer John “Muzz” Muzzy, Beatlejuice is a story of love for Beatles music and gear lust. In 1993, as Muzzy and his pal Brad Delp watched a group named Merseyside play Fab Four covers at a summer street fair, Muzzy asked, “If I started a band like that, would you sing?” Delp, an inveterate Beatlemaniac, basically answered yeah, yeah, yeah. 

“I want it to be really intense … no half measures,” Muzzy recalled saying at the time. “What happened is I got a Ludwig ‘60s drum set; I had it re-covered. That’s when I called him and said, ‘OK, I got a Ringo kit. We’re going to do the band.” 
They were serious about faithfully reproducing the music, but the band was a lark. Each had plenty of regular work. Beatlejuice played its first gig at a backyard party. 
“There was no real plan, to be honest, when we put the band together,” said Muzzy. “I thought, hey, we’ll play live about three months.”
With a singer known as the voice of the band Boston and songs like “More Than a Feeling,” however, keeping a low profile wasn’t easy. So they embraced it, playing benefit shows, always having fun. 
“Brad was such an amazing singer,” said Muzzy. “Beatlejuice was, I think, a holiday for him.”
When Delp took his own life in 2007, carrying on seemed impossible.  Muzzy organized a farewell concert in Arlington, Mass., asking a few close friends to fill the now empty spotlight for one more show. 
“What we found in rehearsal was that this is what we were meant to do,” recalled Muzzy. “We’re musicians, we love to play, and there was a handful of singers that were right in tune with us, like Mike Girard and Buddy Bernard.”
A year after the show Muzzy told a writer, “When we lost Bradley … it would have been easy to stop. It would also have been the hardest thing, for us to stop.” 
The name changed slightly, though, to Beatlejuice and Friends.
Summer dates filled with multigenerational fans are a band favorite. So when stormy weather canceled a recent outdoor show in Derry, Muzzy worked hard to set a makeup date. 
“These are our most fun things, these annual events,” he said. “It sounds hokey, but it’s so like family.  Every gig is like a reunion is a certain way. … There are certain people we only see at certain events; I know they look forward to it as much as we do.”
The music always galvanizes crowds and energizes the band. 
“In an evening, we’re able to take it from ‘From Me to You’ to ‘I Am the Walrus’ and I think people are shocked at just how much they took for granted all those songs,” said Muzzy. “But when they hear it in one night, they’re blown away by hit after hit after hit and the wonderful memory that it generates.”
He remembers something Delp told him early on as they were learning Beatles songs. 
“Everything from Ed Sullivan to the rooftop concert was five years; Brad used to say that all the time. We’d all go, ‘God, what have we done in the last five years?’”
Delp won’t ever be replaced, but Beatlejuice and Friends aren’t going anywhere either. 
“There hasn’t been one time when I’m like, ‘Eh, I think we’ll probably hang it up.’ It’s too great to play,” said Muzzy. “These guys, we’ve been through everything together.  They started out as my best friends. … You can imagine in the last 20 years all the ups and downs we’ve been through.  We could not be any closer.  We never ever argue.  Every time we get together, it’s hugs.  We feel very fortunate.”
As seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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