Aberdeen High School’s class of ’72 celebrated their 40th reunion last night at the newly renovated D&R Theater. Nearly 200 classmates and their spouses attended the event, which proudly hosted the world-renowned Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four in a private concert. (The Fab Four are also performing tonight at the D&R, tickets are still available. Update: See our report on the 2nd show with great photos.) During a tour, it was learned that Kurt Cobain and Nirvana had some legendary history at the theater as well; Nirvana actually performed there, and had also practiced in one of the rooms. Kurt Cobain also attended Aberdeen High School but didn’t graduate.
John Yonich, who purchased the D&R Theater in 2008, is also of the class of ’72. Yonich told the crowd that he bought the old building to prevent it from being demolished, in an act of devotion to the city he grew up in. “I just couldn’t let it be knocked down” he said, “there’s too much history here.” In the end it cost him millions to renovate, but his tenacity is paying off. Now he is bringing in very big musical acts to the theater, he said, “that would normally have chosen a Seattle venue or one of the casinos. And our acoustics are amazing.” (see their website for upcoming performances.)
NIRVANA WAS HERE
Walking upstairs and down the hall to some old rooms that have not yet been renovated, we saw paint chipping and gashes in the walls, with old flooring. “It all started right here for Nirvana,” he said, and took us inside one of the rooms (see slideshow). “Kurt Cobain and Nirvana practiced in here when they first hung out with the Melvins.”
He then explained that the D&R hosted Nirvana at their last Aberdeen show in 1985, before their fame exploded nationally and then around the world. It would be the last time the grunge-rock band played in their hometown. Interestingly, mutual friend and second cousin to Cobain, Ron Lyse and his wife Carole, were part of the ’72 reunion crowd. They were fascinated with the history as well, saying they were going to visit the new Cobain Landing park (under the bridge at the Wishkah River) before returning home to Gig Harbor today.
Yonich also told an amused crowd as he sat on the stage with Class President Ron Germeaux, that “In Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain is a BIG deal.” Laughing, he explained, “We held a Cobain memorial concert here and it brought out the authorities and fire department.” Grunge rock being what it was, he said the moshing turned into total chaos and knocked over security personnel at the front, while the aisles filled up with people bent on pushing their way to the front. He added,“We had to get everybody out.” Ron Germeaux presented Yonich with a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the Class of 1972 for providing the facility for the reunion.
THE FAB FOUR
The Fab Four performed a full concert with three costume changes; the 1964-65 Ed Sullivan era black suits, followed by Sgt. Pepper and finally the Abbey Road set. Tyson Kelly plays John Lennon; Ardy Sarraf is Paul McCartney, Gavin Pring plays George Harrison, and Eric Fidel is Ringo Starr. All looked and sounded just like the real Fabs. The audience was enthusiastic and joyful to be entertained by (what felt like) the Beatles right in front of them. Women in the front seats got up and danced and everyone clapped or sang along whenever the band requested.
Ed Sullivan actor, Jerry Hoban (Pulp Fiction) introduced the band. Familiar old Beatles hits filled the theater: All My Loving, I Saw Her Standing There, A Hard Day’s Night, Yesterday, She Loves You, Help, and more. The next two sets included “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With A Little Help From My Friends”, and “Penny Lane.” They also did a medley of Harrison favorites that included “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Lennon’s “Revolution” brought everyone to their feet, and McCartney’s “Hey Jude” had the audience swaying and singing along. Lennon’s “Imagine” was performed in a stand-alone performance that was beautiful. It was an amazing show that made for a night to remember for the Class of ‘72.