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About 5 years after the Beatles broke up, there was a mass-resurgence of Beatlemania in the USA and UK. At the time, I was a 12 year old Beatles fan so it was a perfect time to enjoy the new flood of greatest hits, magazines, TV specials, movies, etc.
In March of 1977 I saw a Beatles tribute band called "The Britins" play live at Southridge Mall in Greendale, Wisconsin. I still remember standing behind the drums, facinated with the mechanisms and manipulations of the high hat (I was hooked on drums, but didn't own a set). The Britins were an amazing version of the early Beatles and I followed them around to various shows, joining their fan club and pretty much living out my dorky Beatle life.
Three decades later, I found a scrapbook I kept of Beatles press clippings: Ringo Almost Died, Ringo Cut All His Hair Off in Monaco, Ringo Roughed Up in Mexico and a bunch of articles on Paul McCartney and Wings who were all over the place then.
In the midst of the Beatles articles and photos, I found a bunch of Britins clippings, posters and such. The Britins were really popular in Milwaukee in 1977 - a time when "tribute" bands were pretty rare.
The Britins looked and sounded like the Beatles but had such non-Beatle names: Joey Salamone, Al Sherman, Rick Bertoni and Mike Cutty (Joey, Al, Rick and Mike sound like a plumber's union, not like John. Paul, George and Ringo).
The Britins are still out there playing Beatle-gigs, but Rick Bertoni is the only original Britin from 1977. You can see their website here or book them through Talent Associates (along with my pals in The 5 Card Studs).
As shown here, my collection includes newspaper clippings, signed posters, a fan club card (unsullied by my chicken scratch) and a promo poster showing them live at Greendale High School, a concert I was at (of course) and their PO Box in Greendale -- don't know the connection, but it was pretty damn cool to me at the time. Plus the Washington Park Bandshell ad ("Capacity For 12,000") with Larry The Legend from WZUU as MC and my favorite: The Britins Christmas card.
The signed posters are interesting because two are signed by Angelo Bertoni. I don't recall what his position was or why he signed the posters. Maybe he was "the fifth Britin."
And finally I do still have their single on Banana (ha!) records, an original song, "She Knows" (written by Al Sherman) b/w "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
So may I introduce to you an act you've known for all these years... The Britins!
- Ron Faiola
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