Genius, Explained: The Beatles: Rock Band

By Francis Storrs | Boston Magazine |

Much to the frustration of fans, Beatles music has never been available for online downloading (though luckily it’s still available on these things called CDs). But now Harmonix has gone and done the seemingly impossible: struck a deal with Paul, Ringo, and the families of late band members to create The Beatles: Rock Band. Beginning this month, gamers can rock 45 classic songs as virtual versions of the Fab Four. And since up to six can play, there’s room for budding Stuart Sutcliffes and Pete Bests, too. 

A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS  Dhani Harrison, George’s son and an avid Rock Band fan, helped win over Yoko Ono and his father’s former bandmates. Recently he’s been challenging Harmonix execs by sending photos of the perfect scores he’s achieved playing Dad’s guitar parts.

LET IT BE (COLOR)  The developers re-created many famous Beatles venues for the game, such as Liverpool’s Cavern Club and the roof of London’s Apple Corps. They used rare color photos from The Ed Sullivan Show to depict the set as the Beatles experienced it in their ’64 breakthrough.

WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY BEEPS  Thanks to savvy licensing, gamers can play replicas of iconic Beatles instruments, including John’s Rickenbacker guitar and George’s beloved Gretsch. Olivia Harrison even let the Harmonix team visit her home to check out her late husband’s collection.

WE CAN WORK IT OUT  The surviving Beatles offered crucial pointers on a demo (e.g., Paul, not John, played organ on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"). Paul also applauded the developers who performed for him, but noted the company’s creative director needed more practice.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?  Harmonix stuffed the game full of extra treats, such as snippets of never-before-heard studio chat gleaned from original recording-session tapes. It also sneaked in a few inside jokes: That attractive meter maid ticketing a car? Meet Lovely Rita.

In a nod to "Revolution 9" from the "White Album," The Beatles: Rock Band will be released on 9/9/09. $60, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.

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