Beatles or "Beetles"? The story of a musical "fake" that turned Argentina upside down
When a product is successful, imitations appear. But this one made the fans of the English giants more yellow than the submarine.
Around Beatlemania there are many conspiracies, such as the one that Paul McCartney died at the height of the British group's stardom and the person who played was a double of him, that the song "Revolution 9" is a satanic ode, or that none of the Beatles really existed and throughout time they were performed by diverse actors that took turns.
The latter would have worked wonders for a certain businessman, who, in 1964, just after the quartet appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and unleashed hysteria in the United States, had a seemingly innocent idea that ended as a historic musical scam.
Bob Yorey was running a nightclub in Miami when the collective fever for the Beatles broke out. A band of four kids, known as The Ardells, would come to his club to play, and that night Yorey told them of his plan.
"Starting tomorrow, you change your name. I already ordered the posters". He also ordered them to get a haircut.
From that moment on, they were called the American Beetles, a very worthy substitute for the Beatles, who did covers of the band.
One day, a show producer, Rodolfo Duclós, arrived at the club. He saw the band with their bangs and brittle looks and, smelling that he could get a cut of the business, proposed to Yorey to take them on a tour of Latin America.
In total, he thought, no recognized group — especially in the 60's — had bothered to play in the continent because of the high costs of the trip, among other things.
What the club owner and perhaps the band didn't know was that Duclós didn't sell the American Beetles' tour, but the real Beatles', and thus forged his deception. To those who doubted the veracity, he said that it had been a concession from the Liverpool boys after their success in the States.
The Argentine press announced with great fanfare the Beatles' visit to the country in May 1964.
After some trouble and delays, a Cuban businessman who owned Channel 13, Goar Mestre, signed a contract with the producer.
When the boys from Miami, the American Beetles, arrived at the airport, they could not believe their eyes: herds of hysterical youngsters cheering their name were also crying and fainting at the sight of them.
Duclós messed up the skein. The initial scandal was followed by a multi-channel lawsuit over the right of these other Beatles to play on their shows, and although the press eventually echoed the lie and the Beetles looked nothing like John, Paul, George and Ringo, the visit became so famously absurd that it could only prove one thing.
When a phenomenon is global, no one can escape the fever of joining something greater than themselves.
The complete story, with its absurd requirements, is told in the documentary El día que los Beatles vinieron a la Argentina (The day that the Beatles came to Argentine), directed by Fernando Pérez.