Hollies At Hidden Valley

My sister Kerry was very good to me when she worked as a copywriter at radio station CFOR in Orillia. And I’d been such an arse as a little brother when we were kids.

Not only did she arrange for me to go down to Toronto with a local disc jockey to see the Beatles in 1966, but she also got me to make a list of record albums I wanted and included them on the radio station order form. I got them for a buck each.

I scored dozens of albums this way, but in the end I traded them for a second hand 80cc Suzuki motorcycle which died a quick death not long after.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. Like that trade.

But she did one other thing too that I’m also grateful for. She gave me a ticket to see the Hollies in the spring of 1967 at Hidden Valley ski resort, just outside of Huntsville, Ont.

Were the Hollies good? They were way beyond good. Mind blowing three-part harmony with slick guitars and drums. With catchy tunes like Bus Stop, which was recorded less than a year before.

Tight as can be, those Hollies.

Tighter than Anna Pavlova’s leotards on Luciano Pavarotti.

I’d seen a lot of bands at the Club Pav in Orillia, bands that made a serious mark in Canada and beyond, like the Ugly Ducklings, Mandala, David Clayton Thomas and the Shays, the Paupers, Little Caesar and the Consuls, A Stitch in Tyme, the Staccatos, and a whack of others.

Great bands. Fantastic bands. Not to be messed with, these bands. World class.

But the Hollies….hot damn!

Graham Nash, who would eventually leave to become part of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and Young), wore a black priest’s robe on this night.

And Nash wasn’t even the band’s best singer. Frontman Allan Clarke was.

I was in the front row of a very small place, about fifteen feet from the stage, and one of my favourite British Invasion bands were singin’ and playin’ up a storm.

You had to be there. Like me!

I saw other bands at Hidden Valley. The Young Rascals, the Association, the McCoys, BJ Thomas, and the Left Banke for example.

But it was the Hollies that took it to another level.

Thanks Kerry.

Postscript:

I used to hitchhike to these shows, usually by myself, with Huntsville only an hour or so north of Orillia.

And if you think hitchhiking was innocent back in the ’60s as people like to say now, I can tell you that on one of these trips to Hidden Valley, a man picked me up and started masturbating behind the wheel as we drove along the highway.

And when I told him to stop the car and let me out, he did right away and without saying a word, as if nothing was out of the ordinary, and then drove off into the sunset.

Hollies

 

 

Quarry Night

The Habs allowed three shorthanded goals during their tiresome 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, and I don’t want to talk about it.

How about a historic acid party at a limestone quarry outside of Orillia in the late-1960s instead?

A party where we climbed the flat sides of the place in the dark with water and rocks 50 feet below, whoopin’ and hollerin’, with brains soaked with mind-bending chemicals, probably never considering even once that we could kill ourselves.

It was a grand party, just me and the rest of The Boys, doing what we did best. Partying. In fact, we were such good partiers that some teenagers in town weren’t crazy about us showing up at their doorsteps. Something about them trying to keep their parents’ house nice.

A few didn’t mind, I guess. At least I like to think so.

Yes, the quarry party was a beauty, taken to a new level when we saw the lights of cars coming in, cars filled with people a few years older than us, who had brought their own drugs and music, and we all bonded in a fuzzy sort of way.

I won’t go into too many details. There was that time when one of my friends saw a guy wander off, and when he came back, my buddy checked where he’d been and found a bag of pills that we all shared when the older bunch weren’t looking.

A couple of us sat in the back of an older guy’s convertible and listened to the first (and newly-released) Led Zeppelin album on his fancy 8-track car stereo, and after about the third listening, the guy yanked the tape out and we swore mightily.

We calmed down when he inserted Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, also a new release, and I fell in love with that album so much that when someone asked me if I wanted to go to town with them to get some MDA, I said no, Bob Dylan’s bringing me my MDA.

And just recently I found out from one of my buddies that a girl there that night with the older guys, the girl with the cowboy hat, was Cathy Evelyn Smith, who later on would serve time in California for injecting drugs into actor John Belushi, which killed him.

Me and the other Boys still talk about the quarry from time to time. And years after the fact, I entered a contest at CHEZ 106 in Ottawa, with a free CD of the choosing to those with good stories about the 1960s.

I told the quarry story, and they sent me Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

One final note; that quarry was where the limestone came from to build the old Catholic church in Orillia. The church where I was an altar boy. And where, as an altar boy, I set myself on fire lighting candles.

And when I look closely at my picture below, I sure have a long finger.

altar boy

me (2)

 

 

Bob Hill’s Rocket Riot Tune

From 1955, Bob Hill and his Canadian Country Boys sing about the Rocket and the events leading up to and during the Richard Riot on March 17th of that year.

It’s called Saga of Rocket Richard, and his 78 rpm record sells for several hundred clams now if one could find it.

But if you click right here you can listen to it for free on the Museum of Canadian Music site. (Just scroll down below the info and you’ll see ‘tracks.’)

It’s a fine little ditty, and I hope it makes you smile.

Because I like it when you smile.

Image

Saga of Rocket Richard

In this great game of hockey,
To which we do play,
There are heroes near and afar.
But the mightiest name in our national game,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.

When we need a man,
To encourage the fans,
He’ll shatter all records and more.
In fact quite the cream,
Of the Montreal team,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.

One evening in Boston, they struck at his head,
And cut him right over the ear.
With his temper so red and the way that he bled,
His thinking could not have been clear.

In the confusion,
Before they subdued him,
He’d struck an official I fear.
In so doing you know,
He’d trod on the toes,
Of Campbell, the man with no fear.

Says Campbell – young man,
That stick in your hand,
Has put you in trouble, by gar.
Though you needed five stitches,
You’re too big for your britches,
Just who do you think that you are.

Now you’ve done this before,
And you’ve made me quite sore,
And although you are a great star.
You’re through for the year,
Do I make myself clear,
Mr. Maurice the Rocket Richard.

In a terrible plight,
Was our Forum that night,
A riot got into high gear,
And when Campbell appeared,
He was slammed and jeered,
And his danger it soon became clear.

A fan tried to drop him,
The cops couldn’t stop him,
And a bomb made ’em all shed a tear.
As the president fled,
They cried “off with his head,”
Of Campbell the man with no fear.

Now our town has lost face,
And our team has disgrace,
But those hot-headed actions can’t mar,
Or cast any shame,
On the heroic name,
Of Maurice the Rocket Richard.

For he will return,
And his legend will burn,
In the annals of sport near and far.
There was never a name,
Of such stature and fame,
As Maurice the Rocket Richard.

Soup Riot

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When Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard for the remaining three games of the season and all of the playoffs in March of 1955, he was not a popular man.

And of course Clarence wasn’t popular. His suspension of the Rocket was incredibly harsh, although Maurice did whack Bruins d-man Hal Laycoe a bunch of times with his stick after Laycoe had high-sticked him (which called for five stitches), and there was that coldcocking of linesman Cliff Thompson with a punch or two. But I digress.

Richard fans took to the streets, and as we all know, trashed shops along several blocks of Rue Ste. Catherine, which forever after became known as the Richard Riot, or the St. Patrick’s Day Riot.

But there was more than just smashing and looting. Only ordinary greaseballs just smash and loot.

One disgruntled Habs fan came up with a much more creative protest – design, print and cover Campbell’s (no relation to Clarence) soup cans with Maurice Richard labels, and for a short time after the incident, various stores sold their tomato soup this way.

 

PK Carried Off

PK

The plan was to haul my ass to the computer and talk about the blistering hot Alex Galchenyuk, who tallied two more goals (for the third straight game) in the Canadiens’ 3-2 win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

But Chucky’s two goals (11 in the last 8 games, 25 on the season) and the Habs’ win quickly took a back seat to seeing PK Subban wrapped up in a stretcher with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, after his head and Alexei Emelin’s legs collided.

Forget the slumps and injuries and not making the playoffs and late-season Galchenyuk heroics. We wait for good news about PK.

The Big House For Tony

In almost all ways, Tony Demers, who played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1937 to 1943, was just another in a long line of players who came and went and are mostly forgotten now because they were never a Richard or Beliveau or Lafleur.

But unlike others who at one point in the lives had that cup of coffee in the bigs, Demers’ story carried a slight twist, one that is rarely discussed, and it’s a story with details that remain sketchy even today.

The beginning is about hockey.

In my house, I have a really nice photo of Demers posing with the Rocket and Elmer Lach on a line, so they gave him a shot with the big boys, I suppose. He looked like a guy poised to replace Toe Blake at some point on the Punch Line.

But Demers played parts of just five seasons in Montreal as he bounced up and down from the minors. He scored only 20 goals in total and was no star, not by a long shot. His short career ended during the 1943-44 season when he played one game with the New York Rangers, and that was that.

Sort of.

In 1945, Demers was fined for an assault on a hotel keeper. Then, the next year while playing senior hockey in Sherbrooke, he became involved in a gambling situation and was given a ten-game suspension. Things were bad up to this point, but they were about to get worse.

In 1949, Demers was hauled in to the police station regarding the death of a woman who was later revealed to be Demers’ girlfriend. The story issued was that the two had been drinking heavily, they had gotten into an argument, and that he had hit her.

Hospital officials said it was more than a simple hit, it was a thorough beating. Demers claimed she had gotten all her bruises from jumping from his moving car. And he didn’t take the unconscious woman to the hospital until the following day which was far too late, and tragically, the lady passed away.

The court didn’t buy the ‘jumping from the car’ story and Tony Demers was found guilty of manslaughter, given 15 years in the maximum security St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary in Montreal, and he served eight years of the fifteen before being released.

In the late 1980s, while I was living in Ottawa, it was announced that this notorious St. Vincent de Paul was finally closing its doors after about 100 years, and the public was invited to tour the closed prison for a dollar. So I took my family to Montreal for the day to have a look.

The penitentiary was a horrendous place. They had left the cells the way they were, so clothes, writings, and graffiti on the walls were there as they had been. It was dirty and dark and my kids were nervous. I think it might have set them on the straight and narrow from that day on.

In Roger Caron’s book Go Boy, he described St. Vincent’s as the meanest and most dangerous prison in Canada, and he knew what he was writing about because he had served most of his adult life in different institutions across the country. It was a prison that served its purpose in the most brutal of fashion..

It sure didn’t seem a fitting place for a hockey hero. While the Rocket, Blake, and Lach thrilled the Forum faithful with big goals and Stanley Cups, an old teammate, one who had once shared the dressing room, train rides, restaurants, and hotels, sat in a dark cell inside Canada’s worst prison, maybe listening from time to time on the radio as his old friends carried on.

Demers went mostly into obscurity after his release eight years later, did some youth coaching from time to time, and eventually died in 1997. It has to be one of the sadder stories in the 100-plus years of the Montreal Canadiens.

Below, Demers, Lach, and Richard.

16 Left

KerryAbove, the Canadiens at their hotel in Winnipeg.

If there’s one thing we can say about the four-game road trip the Canadiens just completed, it’s that it was a four-game road trip they just completed.

Games in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and finally Winnipeg.

They lost all four, of course.

But they looked good in their Montreal Canadiens uniforms, with that big CH on the front.

The same uniform, in fact, that good Montreal teams used to wear. The big difference is, it used to be six months of cheering. Now it’s two months of cheering and a four-month prostate examination given by Andre the Giant.

Nothing unusual about the final game of the trip against the Jets in Winnipeg, as they scored two, like they did in the other three games of the trip, and PK Subban only turned the puck over once that led to a goal.

And to add to the merriment, Brendan Gallagher suffered a lower body injury and didn’t return.

There’s only 16 games left. Can they make us proud and win one?

Random Notes:

I saw an interesting Fats Domino documentary on PBS the other day.

Alex Galchenyuk scored both Habs goals.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Dallas Stars visit Montreal. In this game, the Canadiens will try to win, and PK will try not to give the puck up.

Both tasks will be tough.

 

19 Left

me typing

Regardless of how the Canadiens do in Anaheim tonight, I won’t be writing about it. And I won’t be writing about the other remaining 18 games either.

I’m shutting down my recaps for the year, as this most pathetic of all seasons winds down.

I’ll still post on here from time to time, but I’ve had it with the recaps.

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