Lawrence Gilmour accidentally left his towel in Paul McCartney's dressing room four years ago. Good move. When he politely told an assistant he wanted to retrieve it, "A voice from the back shouted, 'Is that Lawrence? Tell him just to come right in,'" recalls the Scotland-born Gilmour. He had been chosen to play McCartney's doppelgänger in the "No Other Baby" video, after McCartney saw Gilmour perform on a TV show. Now he was being invited to use the pop icon's bathroom, his towel -- even his moisturizing cream.
Gilmour, who goes by the stage name Lawrence Macca, has made a career as a McCartney look-alike. He'll portray Paul in The John-Paul Fantasy Reunion Concert, a musical play being performed Friday night at Abbey Road on the River, a three-day Beatles festival that features a slew of tribute bands. "Imagine what it would be like if Lennon and McCartney were able to 'Get Back' today," Gilmour says of John-Paul Fantasy's plot. "Mop-top [cover] bands are great, but wouldn't you like to see John and Macca doing a tour today?"
And Cleveland's the perfect place for a Fab Four (or Fab Two) tribute, Gilmour says, because of the city's enduring Beatles fan base. At last year's inaugural fest, he was floored by both the show and the audience reaction. "The setting on the river was glorious, and I enjoyed meeting lots of lovely people there." He thinks American Beatlemaniacs have a "greater respect" for the Beatles, their songs, and their legacy. "There is a wider range of fans from all walks of life, and I would have to say [they are] better prepared to have a good time," he says. "Also, a larger percentage are sober, but they still go mad."
Credit the passion of men like Gilmour for scaring up much of the madness. He eats, sleeps, and breathes McCartney. "I admire the way he keeps going and proving himself over and over and over," he says. "He has spoiled us, and it's a privilege to keep passing it on to others."
And Gilmour passes it on every chance he gets: He's appeared on BBC talk shows, posed as McCartney with supermodels, and taken top billing at the annual Beatles festival in the band's native Liverpool, where he has a four-gig performance the week after his Cleveland appearance. "It's got so big, you wouldn't believe it," he says. "It's really put Liverpool back on the music-scene map."
Before long, Gilmour finds himself drifting back to the memory of his offstage meeting with McCartney. They sang, had lunch, and even solved a crossword puzzle together. Gilmour recalls that he "freaked out" at being hired for the job. "Who could ask for more?" Gilmour says. "My only regret is that it couldn't have lasted even longer. I know . . . I'm greedy."