Monday, August 21, 2006

Original Beatles promoter to visit Portage

Sam Leach remembers stepping into a dingy, smelly nightclub 45 years ago like it was yesterday.

A rough-around-the-edges band was performing to an even rougher crowd.

"There was nothing as powerful as that sound that night. Even the gangs stopped fighting that night to hear them," said Leach, of Liverpool, England.

That band was The Beatles. Leach told them then they'd be as big as Elvis Presley. He was right.

Leach became the band's original promoter, signing them to nearly 50 concerts in the 18 months he represented the group.

"Their voices were fantastic. The sound just seemed to go through you," said Leach, who will be a special guest during the city's one-day Portage Music Fest on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Leach, while replaced by Brian Epstein as the band's promoter in 1963, remained close with the group. He's penned several books, including "The Birth of the Beatles."

He's making the trip to Portage as part of the performance of American English, a Chicago-based Beatles-impersonation band.

Being a part of the American English tour, he said, is deja vu.

"For those who have never seen American English, you are going to the see the Beatles live. The first time I saw them was like that first night I saw the Beatles," said Leach, who will introduce the band and then mingle with visitors to answer questions about his life with the Beatles and his career in music promotion.

"The world has never seen the Beatles like they were in those days and months," he said of his time spent with the band, adding American English's performance will bring them back as close to that time as anyone can get.

"I really love it. I really do. I like people to know what it is all about," said Leach about his trips to the United States. The Portage show will be the first of six American English performances he will attend. He'll spend a month on this side of the pond, returning to England on Oct. 2.

Leach, who was instrumental in promoting the Merseybeat sound in the 1960s, is also writing the screenplay for a film based on his life and times with the Beatles.


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