It Was 20 Years Ago Today

The Eggmen celebrate two decades of holding hands

It  Was 20 Years Ago Today

“We started the band almost as a joke, but it's turned into somewhat of a career,” muses John Burgess of the Eggmen. “Somewhat” is putting it mildly. Austin's Fab Five celebrates 20 years as Texas’ premiere Beatles tribute band by playing for City Council on Nov. 1 and in concert at Scottish Rite Theatre Nov. 4.

How does one step into Beatle boots and make it work?

“A few months before my daughter was born, I mentioned to my wife Sarah that I’d better cut back on playing and she said, ‘No, you should play more,’” remembers Burgess, a veteran of cover bands even then.

“She was working at Bookstop at the time along with [bassist] Ronn [Roberts] and said, ‘You guys love the Beatles. Why don’t you start a band and just play Beatles?’ So we got my brother Chris to play lead guitar and my other brother Tom on drums. After pulling together a couple of sets of music, we got an offer to play for the Mangia 5K Run.

“On the early morning of Nov. 22, 1992, we played our first gig on a flatbed truck at the finish line.

“Our audience responded with great enthusiasm to the point where we were playing fairly regularly, and with pretty good pay. We came to realize that this was a perfect band for weddings and corporate gigs because of the wide appeal of the music. It’s great to see little kids along with grandparents dancing wildly at a wedding reception or a festival.”

By adopting Beatlesesque personas, Ronn "Nigel" Roberts, John Burgess, David "Davy" Fore, John "Basil" Kovach, and Tom "Tommo" Burgess parlayed fun into a dream gig, and when Sarah further suggested “the Eggmen,” it stuck.

“All of us have been in original bands,” Burgess comments. “Playing in regular cover bands can suck the life out of you, but we found that playing the music of the Beatles never got old for us. It always feels new and exciting.

“And musically it’s very rewarding.

“When you play an original song, you have a wide leeway in how you can perform the song. It’s yours and you can do it any way you like. With tribute bands, you have to get everything just right. Not just the arrangement, but the sound and feel as well.

“Remember, the Austin Symphony is really a cover band. They have to play Beethoven exactly the way he wrote it.”

While all of the Eggmen are veteran players, drummer David Fore brings a particularly distinguished history to the table as drummer for psych legends Bubble Puppy and local Eighties New Wavers D-Day. He's tickled about the intricacies of yeah-yeah-yeah.

“Longtime fans tell us when they listen to a Beatles song, it doesn't sound quite right anymore,” muses Fore. “I guess they're used to the way we think it goes, so that's way they think it goes!”

“My kids have grown up surrounded by all of this since birth,” Burgess points out. “And they’re on their own musical way. Diana is majoring in cello performance at UT, is in Mother Falcon, and has released her own CD with the Apple Trio. My son is in a couple of bands and does live sound all over town.

“The Beatles have been very good for us.

“Since retirement isn’t an option for me, I will be continuing the Eggmen until I’m in my 80s. Maybe we could make history being the oldest tribute band in the world.

“We won’t quit until they pry my Rickenbacker from my cold, dead hands.”

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The Eggmen, Beatles, John Burgess, Tom Burgess, John Kovach, Ronn Roberts, David Fore, Bubble Puppy, D-Day, Mother Falcon, Apple Trio, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven, Bookstop

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