Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All You Need Is Love



It’s February 9th, 1964, and millions of families in North America are glued to their black and white television set, witnessing history. Ed Sullivan announces “…New York City never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles…”Mark Rashotte was all of nine years old, and he recalls that evening quite clearly; his sister sitting within inches of the screen, he and his brother close behind her, and his parents behind them. Mark’s father calls out “Those boys need a haircut”, and Mark was thinking “there is something big going on here”. On that same evening, not far from the Rashotte’s home in Belleville, Andy Forgie is watching too and is “absolutely overwhelmed by Beatle mania.” Both Mark and Andy recall the electricity and excitement of that night. And there the dream begins…

Mark and Andy's first band.
Shortly thereafter, Mark started guitar lessons at Charlie Kramer Music and Flags downtown Belleville. Although Mark’s father would have preferred he study the accordion, Mark insisted on the guitar and started strumming away at this first song ‘Red River Valley’ with Mrs. Kramer.  A few years later, a group of boys in grade 7 at St. Michael’s Catholic School form a band and start practicing in a spot at the White Lumber mill owned by the Rashotte’s.  Andy and Mark were making their own music and performing in front of their own peers at school, in the basement of St. Michaels Church (where there was a coffee shop at the time) and during their first big gig at the Knights of Columbus Hall (now the old Bohemian Penguin) which sold out to the grade 8’s. This first concert was a huge success supported by friends and family, with the mothers in the front selling tickets and the fathers in the back selling the pop.
By the time they were in high school these driven kids, focused on the music were performing every weekend in different cities in and around Ontario. Friends and family packing up cars driving them around – it was time for some road trips!
The boys graduated high school in 1974 and then they really hit the road. Their tour took them through Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, and through a few band name changes such as The Electric Circuit, The Fog, and Creed.  
In 1976, under the name Creed, the band made its first recording with Quality Records. The single hit on the 45 was “Westminister Abbey”. By 1980 the band signed with Capital Records and a new band name Photograph, working with musical greats such as Daniel Lanoise and Tom Cochrane.  This album was a huge success and brought a national hit “The Last Dance”. Photograph was at the top of their game.
In 1984, with young families at home, after almost 11 years on the road, the boys decided to take a break. The band splinters a bit, Mark heading into real estate and Andy producing under a family label. Andy has two young children at the time and thus his children’s music easily morphed into a fulltime career.  Mark and Andy still got together frequently for music projects.
Fast forward to 1999, and All You Need Is Love came on the scene, celebrating The Beatles music - Mark Rashotte, Andy Forgie, Vitas Slapkauskas, Steve Smith, Al Haring, and Paul Lockyer and a secret weapon, Wayne McFaul, the sound technician. While many tribute bands stay true to the usual, four guys taking on the persona of the Beatles and staying to the presentation of the former band, All You Need Is Love takes a different approach. This band celebrates the Beatles, being aggressive and original with the music and adding a keyboard player. Their idea is to take the music from the ‘studio years’, and bring it live to the stage putting on the concert The Beatles never had the opportunity to give. They celebrate great albums such as Let It Be, Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. The focus is to perform the music as if The Beatles were making it today.
Mark Rashotte, Andy Forgie, Vitas Slapkauskas, Steve Smith, Al Haring, and Paul Lockyer and a secret weapon, Wayne McFaul, the sound technician.
Once the band started touring in the US festivals, their career really took off.  They are best known at Abbey Road on the River, the largest Beatles Festival in North America currently hosted in Louisville, Kentucky. They have performed there every year since its inception, the only band ever to do so. This year marks the tenth anniversary of this festival, and they were recently inducted into the Abbey Road on the River Hall of Fame. Mark says “Andy is the guy out front who pulls it all together. “
From the time Mark and Andy were nine years old, they have had this dream, but did they think ahead in so far as the dream would have them playing the music in the homeland of the Beatles during Beatle Week in Liverpool, England?
From Belleville, On, Canada to Kentucky to Washington, to Liverpool – All You Need Is Love was an instant hit with the most passionate of Beatles fans, making them one of the ten top Beatle style bands in the world!
Ladies and Gentlemen, “All You Need Is Love”.
By Janet Jarrell


All You Need Is Love is now in rehearsals and will be off to Kentucky this memorial weekend. The tour also sees them in Washington DC on the Labour Day weekend.
 Over the years, and in conjunction with the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, All You Need Is Love has raised approximately $ 200 000 for women and children’s shelters in this region.