STEVE White was determined to be the best Paul McCartney he could be.
The Bootleg Beatles bassist and vocalist was blessed with a similar look and vocal range to McCartney, and picking up his signature nods and hip swaying was relatively easy, but he had to work extremely hard to play bass guitar left-handed like his idol.
Before joining the homage band, White had his own ’60s inspired group where he took the role of John Lennon, playing rhythm guitar in his natural right-handed style.
“Whenever we turned up to do our Beatles show, I’d walk in and people would say: ‘Oh, you’ve got to be Paul’ (I’ve got a bit of a look like Paul) and I’d say: ‘No, I’m not, I’m John’,” the Nottingham entertainer said.
“So the bass player and I had a chat and swapped over roles and I spent months learning all the Paul baselines and songs and harmonies and he did the same with John’s. It was a big effort – it took months of learning the parts for it to filter in.
“We eventually swapped over and then someone said: ‘Are you left-handed (like Paul)?’. That happened several times and gnawed on my conscience.
“I thought: ‘I’ve got to have a go’, so I borrowed a guitar, strung it upside down and tried to learn it.”
White remembers being excited to try it but when he put the guitar on he could not hold the plectrum – it was like starting again.
He persevered for three months.
“I was walking around the house with the thing around my neck all the time: I’d be watching TV with it and making cups of tea and eventually I could play it crudely and then I set out to do the left-handed thing and it was a success,” White said.
After White’s band fizzled, The Bootleg Beatles – formed 35 years ago for the Broadway musical Beatlemania – asked him to play the part of McCartney while their guy recovered from illness.
He never recovered and White took on the role full-time.
He and the band have performed with music greats such as Liam Gallagher, The Killers and The Rolling Stones.THE ESSENTIALS
What: The Bootleg Beatles
Where: Astor Theatre
When: September 12