A right-handed Paul McCartney? Surely not! Steve White realised that learning to be left-handed had to be his natural next step.
As he says, McCartney’s left-handedness was all part of what gave The Beatles their distinctive shape and silhouette.
He concedes that The Bootleg Beatles – so keen on detail – probably wouldn’t have invited him to join if he had remained a right-hander.
They play the Kings Theatre, Southsea on Saturday, April 14 (02392 828282) and also G-Live, Guildford on Monday, April 16 (0844 770 1797).
“Initially I was playing in a 60s covers band, and I was playing rhythm guitar which would have been the John Lennon role. But we were doing all sorts, Roy Orbison, The Searchers and so on at the time. But we were all massive Beatles fans and we used to play Beatles songs just for self-indulgence for ourselves. Someone heard us and said we were good and that we should do a birthday party, and it just went on from there really. I was playing rhythm guitar still and so I took over the Lennon role, and whenever we got to a venue, people would say that I should be Paul, just because of the way I looked, and so in the end I swapped with our bass player.
“But I was still right-handed. I would go into a venue and they would say ‘Are you left-handed?’ and I would have to say that no, I wasn’t. And I just started thinking about how long I had spent learning the music and that I might as well go the full way.
“It was hard, but I suppose already being a musician, I had the foresight and the notes and the knowing that I could put my hand where I wanted, and I just spent hours and hours all day doing it. I would be making a cup of tea or watching TV with the guitar around my neck, just practising. I would be doing other things left-handed, like spreading butter, just to get used to it.
“I was practising for ages, but eventually I got to the point where I could play the bass line left-handed in a pretty crude way. It was pretty clumpy, but I could get through it, and I just took it on the road and kneaded it into shape in the shows as we went along. That was a good ten to 12 years ago now. I wouldn’t say that I am now completely ambidextrous, but I can certainly now write with both hands.”
Steve is now starting his sixth year with The Bootleg Beatles.
“I think the band was born out of a West End show that was in 1979 and then the band started in 1980. It is quite a time ago now! They were like the original tribute band. I don’t think the expression tribute band existed back then.
“But right from the start, they have always prided themselves on their accuracy, the way they represented it all. There are lots of different Beatles tribute bands around and they all do their own thing, but I think The Bootleg Beatles really go for the things that money can’t buy, the little nod of the head, the little mannerisms that you get from studying the footage – the things that make it as authentic as you can possibly make it.”
Inevitably, joining so well-established a band was pressure in itself: “The Bootleg Beatles had the bar right up there from day one, and it was essential to keep that torch held high. You have just got to take your game up to the next level all the time.”