In 1964, the Beatles invaded America and captured the hearts of millions, perhaps no one more than Baltimore native Russ Lease.
Lease raised a family and co-owned a clothing store, but he never lost his youthful passion for the Beatles. He started collecting memorabilia and wound up with some of the most prized Beatles items in the world.
"The whole time I was in the clothing business, I racked my brain with how could I combine my hobby of Beatle collecting and get into the Beatle industry and do that for a living," he told The Early Show weatherman Dave Price.
Lease has some extremely valuable pieces, such as the jacket Paul McCartney wore at the famous Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in August 1965.
Lease decided to sell his part of the clothing store, and started making replicas of the famous Beatles clothes. The Beatles clothes come alive stitch by stitch in a shop in Scranton, Pa.
Lease started his Beatles endeavor with the infamous Shea Stadium jacket. He is meticulous about recreating the garments and no detail is too small.
"These buttons have a texture to them," he said, showing Price the Shea Stadium replica. "That button was made almost 40 years ago."
He tracked down the actual original button maker in Italy, who made a mold from it to reproduced the buttons.
The replica jackets were done by different makers, but Lease made sure that even the labels were done in the exact same style.
Among Lease's customers are some of the hundreds of Beatles tribute bands like 1964: The Tribute. The band is so authentic that bassist Gary Grimes learned how to play lefty just like McCartney. They were Lease's very first customers. The band says having the outfits makes them a better tribute band.
"Truer to the illusion," Grimes said. "Anything you can do when your performing as another character to put you more in the mindset, to make you see what they saw, helps you."
But 65 percent of his business is actually to regular folks who wear the jackets out to dinner or to the movies.
"I've actually had close to a dozen men get married in their Sullivan suit," Lease said.
Lease considers himself lucky. He is one of the few people who is able to make a living doing what he truly loves.
"I'm very happy to be able to make a living in the Beatle industry to be honest with you," he said. "It's been my passion since I was 7 years old so it's — jeez there are people who work a whole lot harder than I do — and I would almost do this for free, so the fact that I can make a living doing this is kind of icing on the cake."
For more information visit www.beatlesuits.com.
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