Tommy Roe, musician who opened for The Beatles, discusses his DC

Tommy Roe, musician who opened for The Beatles, discusses his DC concert experience

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WASHINGTON -

In just a few days, we will mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first U.S. concert. The Fab Four played right here in D.C. at the Washington Coliseum.

Tommy Roe was as close to the action as anyone. He shared the stage with the legendary group that night as the opening act.

It was 1964. The Beatles -- sensations in England – were making their mark in America.

After the band played "The Ed Sullivan Show," Beatlemania tightened its grip on U.S. fans.

The band was set to play their first U.S. concert, and it was happening in the nation's capital inside the Washington Coliseum.

“It was called the Washington Sports Arena, so it really wasn't set up for a concert series,” said Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of the DC Preservation League.

They were playing a concert at a venue that wasn't really a concert venue at all. There wasn't even a stage.

“It was actually a boxing mat, and so they just took down the ropes and that's where The Beatles played,” said Miller. “They came out and played in the round. Ringo actually had to turn his drum set around.”

8,000 fans packed the coliseum that night. It was the biggest crowd The Beatles had played to yet.

But the musician opening for The Beatles, Tommy Roe, said fans weren't just there for the fab four.

“I had a fan base of my own,” he said. “I had fans there to see me. In fact, I met Al Gore at the concert. He was a big fan of mine.”

In fact, just one year before in 1963, Roe was the headliner and The Beatles were a featured act when they toured together in England.

But when the newly-released single "She Loves You" went straight to No. 1 in England, the tide changed.

“Well, for a young 20-year-old lad, it wasn't good for my ego, let me put it that way,” Roe said laughingly. “But fate deals you hand sometimes and that was the hand I was dealt.”

Roe said he had a great relationship with the band. John Lennon even let him use his guitar.

“I started writing my big hit "Everybody" on that tour with his guitar,” said Roe.

So when the band was booked to play at the coliseum, they asked Roe to open for them.

“I went on. I did two songs. I did my big hit "Sheila" and I did "Everybody," which was No. 3 on the charts at the time,” Roe said.

He said like many who attended the concert, he couldn't hear the music -- just screaming. And something else just as sweet.

“When the Beatles came on, I started getting pelted with jelly beans,” Roe said. “Some American media person asked The Beatles what was their favorite candy and they said jelly beans.”

The Washington Coliseum is currently a parking garage, but it will be renovated. The DC Preservation League will be involved in that.

They will be holding a 50th anniversary concert there next Tuesday night with a Beatles sound-alike band and Tommy Roe will be the opening act again.

Online:

http://beatlesyesterdayandtoday.com/

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