-- The NYCFab50 Festival is a four-day series of star-packed music events celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first trip to the U.S. that will be held in New York City starting Thursday. One of the first events on the fest's schedule is a concert called Twist & Shout: New York Celebrates The Beatles, which will take place Thursday night at the famed Apollo Theater.
The show's lineup will include performances by original Supremes singer Mary Wilson, Dionne Warwick and Lulu, as well as many other musical luminaries. Speaking this week with ABC News Radio, Wilson reveals that she'll be singing John Lennon's "Imagine" and the Supremes classic "You Can't Hurry Love" at the concert.
Arguably the biggest highlight of the Fab Four's February 1964 trip to the States was their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Asked if she remembers watching The Beatles on Sullivan, Mary admits that she doesn't, although she does recall a number times that the British legends and her group crossed paths. Unfortunately, says Wilson, her first meeting with The Beatles, which took place in a New York hotel, wasn't a pleasant one.
"I guess there [was] a lot of grass being [smoked,] and so we went into their hotel room and it was dark and it was smelly," Mary remembers. "And we went in there with our little gloves, all dressed up, with our little pillbox hats and...it wasn't a kind of thing we thought we were walking into. So we were very disappointed and we asked our publicist to please get us out of there."
Wilson says that, a bit later, when The Supremes toured England, she and her group members "hung around with [The Beatles] quite a bit, including at London's famous private club Annabel's.
As for how passionately The Beatles and their music were embraced by U.S. fans when they first arrived in the country, Wilson says it reminded her of how The Supremes were received in the U.K. around that time.
"With us being accepted so well in England, we saw the world opening up and accepting people," she explains. "[So] it was not a surprise that they were accepted so well here."
The Twist & Shout concert also will feature performances or appearances by Lloyd Price, Gary U.S. Bonds, Barbara Harris of The Toys, Margaret Ross Williams of The Cookies, Danny Aiello, Melvin Van Peebles, acclaimed R&B singer Bettye LaVette and Tony Award-winning actress/singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, among others.
Tickets for the concert are on sale now through Ticketmaster. The NYC Fab 50 fest will run through Sunday and will include several multi-act tribute events at various venues around the Big Apple. All proceeds raised by the shows will benefit the Food Bank for New York City. For more information, visit NYCFab50.com.
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