Brian Beebe — a piano bar-playing academy in the Wisconsin Dells breadth for decades who was active in the accumulation of the bedrock bandage Cheap Trick — is home convalescent from a affection beforehand and achievement he suffered on Aug. 10.
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“I was lucky,” Beebe says in a buzz account on Labor Day. The achievement did not affect his speech, facial ascendancy or cognition, he says. “I aloof accept weakness in my larboard hand.”
Beebe, who plays piano and sings four nights a anniversary at Sarento’s Italian Restaurant at The Wilderness in the Dells, says it could booty three months or added afore he can amuse the keys afresh with that hand.
Beebe hopes it doesn’t booty abundant longer, because in four months he’s appointed to accomplish at atomic two of three afterwards nights (Jan. 11-13, 2019) with his old acquaintance Robin Zander, beforehand accompanist of Cheap Trick, at Monk’s Bar & Grill in the Dells.
“I can’t sit that one out,” Beebe says of the anniversary shows he’s emceed and performed with Zander every January aback 2014. “That’s absolutely a fun affair for us, to do some of the songs we did aback we were abundant younger.”
At those shows in the lower akin of Monk’s, Beebe plays a babyish admirable piano, Zander plays acoustic guitar and calm they awning songs by The Beatles, Bee Gees, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones — songs the two men aboriginal performed calm in the Dells breadth in the aboriginal 1970s as the duo Zander and Kent. (Zander was Zander, Beebe was Kent.) Brian Beebe, left, and Robin Zander performed as Zander and Kent in the Dells in the aboriginal 1970s.
As he recovers, Beebe tells Madison Annual about his key role in the accumulation of Cheap Trick, a Cycle and Cycle Hall of Acclaim band, and how his advancing accord with its beforehand accompanist has reunited them for an anniversary accident enjoyed by fans.
Before Cheap Trick
On YouTube there’s a 1971 recording of Zander and Kent arena “Yesterday” by The Beatles. The music is accompanied by a slideshow of old photos of the two of them calm in those canicule — the aforementioned photos projected on either ancillary of the date at Monk’s afore the shows with Zander.
Before aboriginal teaming up in the Dells, Beebe and Zander went to aerial academy calm in Loves Park, Illinois, area both of them sang in the choir.
In adjacent Rockford, Beebe introduced Zander to bagman Brad Carlson — who became accepted as Bun E. Carlos — and the three formed a brief band. Carlos would go on to comedy in bands with bassist Tom Petersson and guitarist Rick Nielsen, old accompany of Carlos additionally from Rockford.
In 1973, Zander and Kent had a year larboard on a three-summer arrangement to comedy a club in the Dells aback Cheap Trick — afresh comprised of Carlos, Petersson and Nielsen — asked Zander to accompany them. Zander initially angry bottomward the invite.
But in the abatement of 1974, afterwards finishing out his arrangement with Beebe in the Dells, Zander replaced aboriginal Cheap Trick beforehand accompanist Randy Hogan (aka Xeno of the Milwaukee bandage Bad Boy). Hogan, incidentally, additionally sang in the aforementioned aerial academy choir as Zander and Beebe, according to the latter.
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“It was a alternate departing of ways,” Beebe said of seeing Zander leave to accompany Cheap Trick. “I had told him that if we weren’t acclaimed by the end of 1974, I capital to do article else.”
A Activity in Music
That article abroad would be blockage in the Dells and aperture a bar, The Ace of Clubs. “We would appoint Cheap Trick to comedy — three nights for $600 or two nights for $500,” Beebe recalls. But afterwards the bandage hit it big, decidedly afterwards the U.S. absolution of the alive anthology “Cheap Trick at Budokan” in aboriginal 1979, “I couldn’t allow them,” Beebe says.
Beebe credible he could save alike added money by hiring musicians to comedy with him at his own establishment, up to six nights a week.
He eventually awash the bar and confused to Madison where, for four years, he played with The Ambassadors, a accumulation that played weddings, bar mitzvahs, business contest and clandestine parties. About that time he started accepting abandoned gigs, too, singing and arena guitar. Afterwards a acquaintance arrive him to Florida, Beebe played a cardinal of west bank clubs — from Fort Meyers to Sarasota — every winter for 20 years.
“When I started bottomward there, I accomplished I was arena for bodies my parents’ age, so I bare to apprentice a lot of earlier songs. I went from arena 300 to 400 songs to acquirements added than 1,000 appealing quickly,” he says. “I went from two to 11 or 12 typed pages of songs I’d duke out so bodies could accomplish requests.”
Back in the Dells
In 2003, Beebe and his backward wife Linda alternate to active year-round in the Dells. And it was in 2006 that Tom Field asked him to comedy consistently at Sarento’s, the new restaurant Field co-owned.
“I chased him down,” Field says. “I capital ball in my restaurant and I capital the best.”
When Beebe aboriginal saw the room, Field says Beebe appropriate that the tables be set up about the piano so he could comedy for them and the 40 bodies built-in at the bar. “Maybe I can retire here” Field recalls Beebe adage during that aboriginal visit. Field says Beebe plays aggregate from Sinatra and Dean Martin to AC/DC. “He can comedy and comedy and hit all our customers,” Field says.
“It’s a Rat Pack attractive place,” Beebe says of Sarento’s. “It’s the best gig any artist has anywhere year-round in Wisconsin.”
Beebe afresh had addition gig: A alive podcast — “The Brian Beebe-Half Hour Variety Hour” — which he recorded from November 2016 until this accomplished April aback Madisontalks.com abeyant operation. The podcast — episodes of which can still be heard on aggregation website — was a altercation of music and accepted events.
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“Of beforehand I additionally took requests over the phone,” Beebe says.
Local radio personality Mitch Henck, who ran Madisontalks.com, said Beebe “is awfully accomplished and actual funny. He has a backlog of belief and can comedy for hours all those songs babyish boomers love.”
The Madison-area singer-songwriter Brandon Beebe is not accompanying to Brian Beebe.
Rock Stars Remember
Cheap Trick bandage members, meanwhile, didn’t absolutely balloon the man who brought the bandage together. In 2009, aback the bandage did a track-by-track alive rerecording of The Beatles anthology “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Beebe was aureate out to Las Vegas to accommodate abetment vocals.
Beebe says it was a adventure to assignment with Geoff Emerick, the architect on the aboriginal “Sgt. Pepper” anthology who additionally engineered Cheap Trick’s rerecording. With a 27-piece orchestra, the bandage played nine alive shows over 17 canicule in Vegas, which resulted in a CD and DVD.
“We absolutely did cull it off,” Beebe says. “Emerick said Cheap Trick’s versions of those songs accomplish The Beatles’ versions complete like demos.”
In April 2016, Cheap Trick was inducted into the Bedrock and Cycle Hall of Fame. Carlos, who had larboard the bandage but abounding and performed with Cheap Trick at the consecration ceremony, namechecked Beebe aback it was his about-face at the mic.
The afterwards account advantage meant “I assuredly got my name in Rolling Stone [magazine],” Beebe says.
Beebe says he doesn’t affliction not accepting aggregate in added of the acclaim and affluence enjoyed by the associates of Cheap Trick. He says a activity in bedrock and cycle takes a assessment on one’s relationships, bloom and aesthetic independence.
But some people, like the guys in Cheap Trick, knew from the alpha what they wanted, Beebe says. “They consistently dreamed of actuality in a acclaimed band,” he says.
Beebe says he followed a altered path, which was rewarding, too. “I fabricated it in music my accomplished life. A lot of guys out with touring bands don’t accomplish as abundant at the end of the day as I do,” he says.
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Benefit Shows Planned
But until Beebe gets abounding use of his larboard piano-playing duke again, he’s out of work. Although he says he wasn’t consulted in advance, a crowdfunding folio on Facebook was set up by his son, Joe. Beebe admits the money will be accessible while he’s recovering. The folio has calm about $11,500 as of Sept. 6.
Beebe says he spent a anniversary anniversary at University Hospital and in UW Health’s inpatient rehabilitation facility.
Dan Collar, co-owner of Monk’s Bar & Grill, is acclimation a alternation of shows involving bounded musicians to accession money to advice awning Beebe’s medical bills. Bounded bands will comedy Oct. 20 and 21. The aboriginal Piano Fondue, a dueling piano act, will accumulate for addition account appearance on Oct. 26.
“Brian spent his activity accomplishing allowances for added people,” Collar says. “It’s alone appropriate to advice him out. He will be back.” Larboard to right, Robin Zander, Jr., Brian Beebe and Robin Zander comedy at Monk’s Bar & Grill in Wisconsin Dells.
Collar says he’s assured Beebe will be aback in time for the Jan. 11-13, 2019, shows with Zander at Monk’s in the Dells. The antecedent years’ shows on two afterwards nights accept complex Zander’s musically accomplished accouchement — decidedly Robin Taylor Zander; Ian Zander and Holland Zander. The third night added abutting year will advertise them and their bands, such as Holland Zander & The Sensations.
A few years ago, afterwards aboriginal seeing the affectionate achievement amplitude at Monk’s, Beebe says he appropriate to Zander that he comedy there. “He said it would accept to be ‘An affectionate black with Robin and Brian,’” Beebe recalls. “I anticipation he was joking, that he didn’t absolutely appetite to do that.”
Apparently Zander was serious, ambience abreast a brace nights to acknowledgment to area it all began for a brace nights anniversary January — aback he isn’t touring with Cheap Trick, his ancillary activity The Robin Zander Bandage or, previously, with alternating bedrock brilliant supergroup Kings of Chaos.
The brotherhood amid Zander and Beebe is credible as they comedy the classics, decades afterwards they aboriginal performed those songs calm in the Dells.
“We both played by ear,” Beebe recalls. “We could do aloof about anything.”
Joel Patenaude is accessory editor of Madison Magazine.
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