When The Beatles launched the British Invasion era of rock ‘n’ roll by appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964, thousands of young people were captivated by their sound. Carlo Cantamessa ’83, a political science major, was one of them.
He remembered the reaction of his older sister to the band’s appearance on television and decided he wanted to learn to play the guitar. He started taking guitar lessons near his home in Waterbury, Conn., and eventually formed a band with friends, playing a variety of rock and pop songs, but always going back to playing songs by The Beatles.
For nearly 35 years, Cantamessa has continued to play The Beatles’ songs, performing on stage as John Lennon in “The Neatles,” “Beatle Magic: The Show,” various touring incarnations of “Beatlemania,” and his current show, “The Cast of Beatlemania,” with other veteran musicians who have specialized as the Mop Tops in various tribute bands over the years.
Along the way he has compiled a collection of vintage and replica instruments used by the band in order to authenticate the sound of The Beatles. An exhibition from his collection of 1960s instruments, “Vintage Beatles Guitars,” opens in the Plaza Gallery of the Homer Babbidge Library on Aug. 1 and continues through Oct. 25. It is the first time the instruments will be exhibited.