The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

February 8, 2014

Still fab at 50

Arrival of Beatles inspired Schang’s musical career

SHARON — After Max Schang saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” his accordion started to feel heavy.

Schang, who was 10, had been taking squeeze-box lessons on a full-sized model for four years. There was something about the guitars that the Beatles played that made him think he was learning the wrong instrument.

“The guitars looked so sleek and cool,” said the Sharon man, who made playing and teaching the guitar his profession. “I wanted to lose my accordion immediately.”

His mom, Patricia, approved his change of musical direction.

“She liked music and she thought it (guitar) was still music,” said Schang, best known for his blues playing in a career that has seen him also play classical, power pop and Gypsy jazz. “She didn’t know what to make of the Beatles.”

Asked if it seems like 50 years since he saw the Beatles on “Sullivan,” Schang appears to want to say it feels like it was only yesterday. But, he comes clean.

“It seems like it (50 years) when I look at the black-and-white TV clips and black-and-white photos,” he said. “Anything in black-and-white looks ancient.”

In those 50 years, two of the Beatles have died – John Lennon and George Harrison – and the remaining two are showing their ages, Schang said; especially 71-year-old Paul McCartney, “the cute Beatle,” who is getting a little jowly.

In watching McCartney and Ringo Starr age, Schang sees himself, even though he is a decade younger.

“I’ve seen myself go gray,” said Schang, who turns 61 on Monday.

The one thing that has not changed is the importance of the music.

“It was so joyful,” Schang said. “I was immediately enthralled with them.

“It was the sound of youth. It wasn’t Elvis because Elvis wasn’t really my generation.”

Schang’s generation was a restless one. It broke with the status quo, protested the Vietnam War, marched for civil rights, used recreational drugs and bought into free love.

The Beatles spoke their minds in ways that popular culture figures were loath to do, particularly Lennon, who was Schang’s favorite.

“Their music came out of that time,” he said. “A time that will never happen again.”

The Beatles’ songs “mean so much to people,” said Schang, who took “John” as his confirmation name in tribute to Lennon.

“They were so tuneful, so melodic. Not to disparage today’s music, but there’s nothing that touches my heart. The climate is totally different, musically speaking and socially.”

Musically, the Beatles “wrote the book,” Schang said. When people want to learn how to write songs and play an instrument, they can’t go wrong with studying the Beatles.

The Fab Four also broke with the standard conventions of the time to create the kind of music they did. They changed recording techniques, embracing stereo and multi-tracking, and brought staid orchestras and newfangled gizmos – synthesizers – under their command. They quit touring totally to concentrate on the studio.

After breaking up in 1971, each member went on to a successful solo career, but none of those solo efforts has had the resonance of what they did in 10 years with the Beatles.

Schang said each member brought qualities that lifted the whole into another dimension. Consider their vocal harmonies, he said.

“They knew how to crunch words together to morph the inflection so it would sound a little better,” he said.

On Sunday, when CBS airs a program marking the Beatles’ first “Sullivan” appearance – “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles,” showing McCartney and Starr reuniting, and today’s stars putting their own spins on Beatles hits – Schang will be watching.

And remembering.

“They mean everything to me,” he said. “Long live the Beatles.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014