It started with The Beatles’ 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Tom Dyhrberg, who was a preteen in Westbrook at the time, remembers watching the performance on television.
“The music was great. The hall was full of screaming girls. I looked at the screen and said, ‘I want to do that,’ ” Dyhrberg said.
Soon, rock bands started cropping up at high schools around Greater Portland, and Westbrook seemed to be the epicenter of it all.
With a strong music program in the school district, the city was “a hotbed” of talent, said Tony Boffa, a locally renowned musician who grew up in Portland around the same time.
Members of three former Westbrook High School cover bands, who once competed for gigs, are putting their old rivalries aside. On Saturday, they will play hits from the 1960s and early ’70s at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.
The new band of old classmates, called The All-Stars, chose the hotel on Spring Street for the concert because it was the site of Frye Hall — one of the many venues, including schools and churches, where the bands played every Friday and Saturday night.
People yearned to see live music then, the bandmates said after a rehearsal Sunday, and there were more local bands and more places to play than in any era before or since.
“It was a magical time,” said Rob Rocheleau, who was the keyboard player for The Talismen.
The going rate for a gig was $100, so each member of a four-piece band would take home $50 most weekends, which was an enviable salary for a high school student at the time.
“You could live like a king,” said Mike Wormwood, The Talismen’s bassist.
The musicians spent at least some of that money at Valle’s Steak House on Brighton Avenue in Portland, where they would congregate after shows and stay until closing to “hang out with chicks,” said Dyhrberg, who played guitar for the Untame Sound.
Dyhrberg, Wormwood and Rocheleau will join Steve Wark and Brad Harnois from The Talismen and Mickey Gouzie from Love Inc. for Saturday’s show.
The scene won’t exactly replicate the one they reveled in more than 40 years ago.
For one thing, the near-60-year-old men promise not to break out their bell-bottoms from high school.
And they’re expanding their repertoire by bringing on a female singer, Alana MacDonald, their contemporary from Cape Elizabeth, who refers to herself as Granny Gaga.
The men, all members of the Westbrook High School class of 1970, have played together at reunions. Saturday’s show is meant to give people who grew up in the surrounding towns a chance to relive those days, too.
Since high school, the musicians have scattered into a variety of professions, from auditor to attorney, but none ever stopped playing in bands.
“We’re all professional musicians at heart,” Rocheleau said. “It’s in our blood.”
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: