Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 14, 2002

Musicians, front from left, Jack Bruce, Todd Rundgren and Eric Carmen; and back from left, Mark Farner, Alan Parsons and Christopher Cross, will perform their own tunes as well as several Beatles' hits Sunday.

Nostalgic trip
down Abbey Road

Artists blend own tunes with
those of the Beatles

By Gary C.W. Chun

It's The Beatles!! ... and a bit of Raspberries and Cream, some Grand Funk and a couple of guys named Chris and Todd.

A Honolulu audience will be traipsing down memory lane with the songs of the Fab Four as "A Walk Down Abbey Road" makes its second tour stopover. An all-star band -- Eric Carmen, Jack Bruce, Mark Farner, Christopher Cross and Todd Rundgren -- will be led in a performance of Beatles tunes, and their own music, by Alan Parsons, who engineered the Beatles sound at the famed Abbey Road Studios before heading the Alan Parsons Project.

The songs will be combined into set lists that should segue gracefully between Beatles songs and the musicians' own classics. An allotted three-to-five songs per musician has been pared down to two to maximize the number of Beatles songs performed within the two-and-a-half hour concert.

Kauai resident Todd Rundgren, who once mischievously released an album of "Beatles songs they never wrote," said that "because of the large number of headliners on this show," he'll probably perform "Hello It's Me" and "Open My Eyes," a classic late '60s rock song recorded by his first band, Nazz, back in Philadelphia.

"A Walk Down Abbey Road" musicians Christopher Cross, left, and Alan Parsons rehearse for their Sunday concert.

When not on the road, Rundgren has distinguished himself as a forward-thinking musician by taking advantage of computer-age opportunities. "I do a lot of work on the Internet. Since we got the bandwidth capability on the North Shore of Kauai, I've been running a subscription service for my fans on And I still do the occasional musical project. In fact, my last album, "One Long Year," was underwritten by my subscribers.

"The advantage of using the Internet is that I have a direct connection with my audience who will buy my records sight unseen. I did foresee a need for record labels and artists to take advantage of it, but it was only when Napster got immensely popular, making music available without paying for it, that the labels got interested, having no previous policy to fall back on.

"The conventional wisdom nowadays is that the music biz will never be what it was before. It's gotten devalued a bit, because there's too much music out now that's not of good enough quality."

As for Sunday's concert, Rundgren said the band will try to cover a little more Beatles ground and add "a bit of show-biz flair" that the show lacked last year.

"One of the problems last year was that the bulk of the audience were expecting to hear just Beatles songs. Well, music will be the unifying theme, and we plan to add more into the first set, as well as showcase our own hits, since there is quite a variety of styles represented here.

"Last year, I did some of the stronger Lennon stuff like 'Rain' and 'Revolution,' and a little bit of Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' But we just covered a mere fraction of their songs -- for example, we ended up not doing anything from the 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver' albums, so we're hoping to plumb to greater depths the Beatles' repertoire."

Rundgren also has a shared history with many of his bandmates: "I played with Jack (Bruce) when we toured with Ringo Starr's All-Star Band and I produced Mark (Farner) when he was with Grand Funk Railroad (the 'We're An American Band' album) and Eric (Carmen) and I shared a hometown Cleveland fan base, and I was always a Raspberries fan."

While Rundgren, at tour's end next month, will be back on the road sharing a bill with Hall and Oates, Christopher Cross and his family will be enjoying their annual vacation on Maui. Cross performed here last year with the Honolulu Symphony.

Although Cross made his reputation with a more genteel version of pop/rock, he said "my music runs the gamut. The Beatles were pure pop masters and I was very much influenced by them. Their songs are right up my alley, both harmonically and lyrically. And as long as I've been around, both Todd's and Jack's contributions to Cream have been influential as well."

When questioned about his rock 'n' roll credentials, Cross said that "of the seven records I've made, the third was the most rock. And early in my career, during the '80s, I had the long hair (when I still had it!) and the Marshall stacks and the Flying-V guitar."

In addition to performing his hits "Sailing" and "Ride Like the Wind," Cross will sing such Beatles songs as "Here, There and Everywhere," "For No One" and "We Can Work It Out."

He would have been happy to perform any of their songs.

"Face it, these guys didn't have a lot of bad songs," he said.

'A Walk Down Abbey Road'

Featuring Jack Bruce, Eric Carmen, Christopher Cross, Mark Farner, Alan Parsons and Todd Rundgren

Where: Blaisdell Arena

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $35

Call: 591-2211

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