Ask Joe Johnson about the Beatles, and you’ll unleash a torrent of memories, song titles, gossip, side projects and production trivia that quickly meld into a psychedelic “goo goo goo joob.” He just may know too much about the Beatles.
Johnson, of course, is the upbeat Magic 102.7-FM midday DJ who also hosts, writes and produces the nationally syndicated “Beatle Brunch.” The show, which turns 21 on May 31, airs on Magic Sunday mornings at 10.
On Thursday, Johnson will lead a Cinema Paradiso screening party for “Rockshow,” a digitally remastered concert film featuring Paul McCartney and Wings from their 1975-’76 Wings Over America tour. Several South Florida theaters are among those hosting screenings in 700 cities worldwide.
Footage from the WOA shows have been seen in other formats (including a 1981 Betamax release), but this version of “Rockshow” will include an extended setlist, remastered sound, a digitally enhanced print and a 12-minute introduction from McCartney (who will attend a London premiere Wednesday night).
“I haven’t seen it, either. I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic,” Johnson says on Tuesday from the WMXJ studios in Miami.
What fans will see in “Rockshow” is a mid-30s McCartney who appears quite pleased at the course his post-Beatles career has taken and the response of the lighter-flickering crowds that greeted the Wings tour (600,000 people at 31 shows in the United States and Canada).
“He was nervous. He was thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t live up to the Beatles,’ " says Johnson, who has interviewed McCartney at length. “But he sold out the first [leg of the] tour, playing major stadiums. He saw people had a new appreciation. He showed he had more to offer than the nostalgia of the Beatles.”
McCartney has recently warmed up to his Wings years in concert, says Johnson, who is anxiously awaiting his trip to Orlando to see the singer's two Out There Tour performances Saturday and Sunday.
"He's embracing the whole Wings thing after ... nearly 40 years," Johnson says. Among the songs he's looking forward to: "Let Me Roll It," "Jet" and "Live and Let Die." Johnson says McCartney has also been poking around the Beatles discography for rarely heard gems such as "Your Mother Should Know" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"
On Thursday night, Johnson is bringing a trove of remastered McCartney solo CDs, Beatles board games and “Beatle Brunch” tote bags to Cinema Paradiso for a pre-film trivia challenge. To warm you up, Johnson has supplied a few Beatles and Paul McCartney trivia questions (see below video cut from movie). The first person to send the correct answers to all of them wins a copy of McCartney's latest album and a tote bag. Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What was McCartney’s first No. 1 hit as a solo artist?
2. What TV show dared the Beatles to come to the set and play for $3,500?
3. What song did John Lennon write and sing as a put-down of McCartney's solo career?
4. What song did McCartney write for John Lennon after he died?
5. What pop star had two No. 1 hits with McCartney and what were they?
UPDATE: We have a winner, Ken Rosenberg of Coral Springs. Thanks to all for their submissions.
IF YOU GO
"Rockshow" will screen at 8 p.m. Thursday at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-3456), 7:30 p.m. at Paragon Deerfield 8 (3984 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach; 954-571-2445), 8 p.m. at iPic Boca Raton (301 Plaza Real; 561-299-3000), 7 p.m. at Cinemark Palace 20 (3200 Airport Road, Boca Raton; 800-326-3264) and 7:30 p.m. at Paragon Grove 14 (3015 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove; 305-446-6843). Some theaters will repeat “Rockshow” on Sunday. Info: RockShowOnScreen.com.
Photo: Robert Ellis