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08th October, 2021

Broadway star Ted Neeley talks about working with John Lennon in exclusive interview with The Beatles Story.

To mark what would have been John’s 81st birthday, The Beatles Story caught up with Ted Neeley who played Billy Shears in the Broadway show ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road’ and he described how working with John was a dream for a Beatles fan.

“John attended some of our rehearsals and he was so helpful to all of us. It was almost as if he had volunteered to be an associate producer because he just kept saying great, positive things. He was just a brother to all of us and he could not have been more cooperative or supportive.” 

Ted continued: “John was fun, he was enjoying the process and he appreciated what we did. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

Never-before-seen black and white photographs from the opening night are currently on display at The Beatles Story, and in them John can be seen changing the name of West 74th street on Broadway to SGT. PEPPER WAY, sitting at an organ and relaxing in a dark velvet suit, top hat and ‘ELVIS’ lapel badge. 

The photographs were all taken by Robert Deutsch who worked as a freelance photographer in New York during the 1970/80s, and he described the event in a video interview currently on display alongside the photographs.

Bob recalls; “John was having a great time talking to us, then he sat down at this big organ and started playing – I couldn’t believe it, this is John Lennon, playing music for me! Unfortunately, I don’t even remember what he played as I was too busy taking pictures.

He was very nice, very friendly and very accessible.”

The display, titled ‘Sgt. Pepper Way’ showcases the images alongside a video from their photographer and actor Ted Neeley in the exhibition, where fans can also see John’s last piano and enjoy an immersive experience in the updated ‘Imagine White Room’. 

Mary Chadwick, General Manager at The Beatles Story said: 

“We’re so pleased to be able to share these amazing photographs and the stories from Bob and Ted, which we are sure our visitors will love to see and hear.

“As the world’s leading permanent exhibition dedicated to the lives and careers of the Fab Four from Liverpool, we’re delighted to be able to mark what would have been John’s birthday with this addition to our already exciting display.” 

The new exhibition will run at The Beatles Story for two more years, during which time further never-seen-before images from Robert Deutsch will also be added.

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