Tag Archives: Beatles

A Few Good Jobs

1. Retired Famous Race Horse. You were Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and the toast of the town. You retired on top of the world and were given a fancy stable and told to get out into the field and make love to the finest fillies out there. Whenever you felt like it. Every day.

2. Guy Who Crashes Cymbals in a Symphony Orchestra. You’re in Carnegie Hall, and the horns and violins are working their way up to big crescendo. The crowd is enthralled, and then, at the precise moment, you crash your cymbals.
That’s it I think. Your timing has to be on. And for this you get to wear an expensive tuxedo, make lots of money, and probably even sign a few programs! Or maybe there’s more to it than I know.

3. Red Fisher. Play poker with the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion on trains to Chicago, Boston, and the rest. Go for a cold one after the game with Lafleur, Savard, and Robinson, and talk shop. Cover the Montreal Canadiens and become just one of the boys for nearly fifty years.

4. George Martin. He’d put on his cardigan sweater, jump into a limo to take him to studios like Abbey Road, and help the Beatles weave their magic. He was there almost from the start, and he also made zillions doing it.

5. Playboy photographer.

6. Phil Pritchard. Phil’s job is to babysit the Stanley Cup, 12 months a year. He takes it all over North America and Europe so players from the winning team can show it off where they live. He brings it out on to the ice with his white gloves on when a team wins it in the final game. He’s practically married to it, and it never talks back.

7. Habs stick boy (maybe not now but whatever).

It Was Good To Be A Beatle

Yes it was good to be in the Beatles, but that photo shoot at Abbey Road drove me crazy. Two hours of back and forth, back and forth, until finally I’d simply had enough and just kept going, right to the St. John’s Wood underground station, out to Heathrow, and back to Canada where I got my dream job at the Porcelain and Metal factory in Orillia assembling metal doors for bathroom stalls on the graveyard shift.

The Boys Are Back In Town

Rocktown Magazine (Let your eyes feed your ears)

By Leonard Bingo

Sunset Boulevard was still reasonably quiet when I sat down with master keyboardist Homer Gibson and the notoriously difficult yet ultra-talented Denny (Killer) Kane. After all, it was still mid-morning, but the news hit my ears like a thousand cars inching along the Strip with horns blaring on a Saturday night.

Gibson, wearing his trademark vest, Bermuda shorts, and Powell River Kings t-shirt, is almost unrecognizable now after decades of hard rock star living, but Kane, in his dapper business suit and shirt that reads ‘Welcome to Orillia, home of Lightfoot and Kane’, looks young and healthy, possibly because of having his blood drained and replaced in Switzerland a decade ago.

“We’re putting the band back together again,” blurted Gibson as I sipped green tea while the pair chugged beer and ate homemade brownies they said came from one of the many female fans who regularly sent the legendary Carnaby Knights  gifts from MILK (mothers interested in licking Knights). MILK members have dedicated their lives to the band since the rockers burst onto the scene in 1964 with their massive hit ‘You Don’t Know Me But I know You (Cause I look Through Your Bathroom Window), and never gave up hope of sleeping with at least one of them, preferably Kane.


Early Carnaby Knights, before they shook the world. “We had no idea” said Homer. “The girls, the money, the fame. We weren’t ready yet.”

The two of them waited while I digested the news. The Carnaby Knights hadn’t been together in many, many years, and it seemed unreal that the band  would consider such a thing now. All four continued to live lavish lifestyles, compliments of record sales and previous world tours, and they had their successful solo careers. But now this. They’re getting back together. My tea grew cold as my head swirled.

“Why now?” I asked. “You’ve nothing left to prove. The Knights were the best, but can you do it again?”

Kane ordered another four pints for him and Homer, and looked me square in the eyes. “You bet we can, because we rock. The Carnaby Knights folded up shop way too soon. We were neck and neck with Zeppelin, we had outsold the Beatles, and women voted us the hottest rockers on the planet, but we quit because, well, we didn’t see eye to eye on a bunch of things.”

The beer arrived, and I noticed Kane and Homer looking at each other. Getting the news out was big for them too. And they seemed like old friends once again, after all those public and insane quarrels we all knew about.

I finished my tea and ordered a double tequila. It was too early for beer, but I needed a something to fully take in what I was hearing.

The Carnaby Knights were my favourite band, there was no question. Gibson on keyboards, Izzy Brash on bass, Bobby Folsom on lead, and Dougie Jumpstarter on drums were groundbreakers. They had changed the world through their music, and had become known as gurus to the guys in Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, even the Fab Four had asked for tips more than once.

And then there was Kane, whose vocals sent crowds wild and women into a frenzy. He was what Robert Plant aimed to be, with vocals that ranged from soft to ear shattering, melodic to punkish, sensual to violent. No one sang like Kane, and we always understood that this was a guy born to rock.

Together, the boys’ music was magical, the true inspiration for Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers, and of course the genius of Pink Floyd. Waters and Gilmour will certainly flip when they hear the news. Jann Wenner is gonna be pissed when he gets wind that I landed the scoop. But Rolling Stone was certainly no Rocktown, and the two legends wanted to tell the world through the biggest and best rock rag. So they had called me and I was there to meet them within the  hour.

“We were bored hanging out at our pads with all the dope and champagne and beer and entourages and swimming pool orgies” explained Kane. “So I rang Homer. I said, hey Homer, let’s put the band back together again, and after Homer slept on it and woke up in late afternoon a couple of days later, he called and said he was all in.”

I saw a problem though, and wasn’t sure if now was the time to bring it up. The world knew about the band’s fights over the years, the slandering of each other in the papers, the drunken episodes at the Roxy and Whisky, and the night at the Troubadour when they yelled out lewd remarks to Linda Ronstadt and were promptly thrown out into the street. Even worse, the club and Dan Tana’s restaurant next door pressed charges after Homer took a dump in front of the ticket window and drove his Harley through the high-end eatery.

“What about the other guys?” I finally asked, and the pair guzzled their beer and paused for a minute. Finally, Kane let it out after ordering four more.

“We don’t want them back,” he said angrily. “Brash was boring, he never drank or popped acid or anything that he should’ve been doing. Hell, he even stayed in his room and read books when we had our swimming pool orgies. Folsom could play, man could he play, but he was beginning to think he was bigger than the band. Don’t forget, he almost ruined us when he told the press the Knights were bigger than Sinatra. And Jumpstarter just wasn’t what we wanted in a drummer. We thought there were better guys out there, and it was a drag that he seemed to be liked by the groupies a bit too much. So after our last gig, the one when we headlined the Isle of Texada, I told Brian (Saperstein), to take care of it.”

“So now we’re looking for new members, but Clapton’s basically retired, Jack Bruce and Hendrix are dead, and Ginger Baker’s an asshole. But it’s okay, we’re starting to put the word out. Maybe we’ll be three-piece band now. Just me, Homer, and maybe Neil Peart. We’ll see. I might give (Jeff) Beck a call.”

I scribbled in my pad at a furious rate and ordered another double tequila. Eleven in the morning wasn’t too early now. “What’s gonna happen when you’re ready?” I asked.

Homer put his beer down and looked at me. “We’re gonna be huge again, that’s what’s gonna happen. We’ll start by cutting an album, maybe call it ‘The Carnaby Knights Are Back in Your Face’, and we’ll tour. Probably kick it off here in L.A., and then New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Powell River, Drumheller, Moose Jaw. Really man, I can’t wait.”

Then, while I was still slightly dazed, they simply rose and left, leaving me with my thoughts and the bill. How I’d always wanted the Carnaby Knights to play again, and now it seemed it could happen. The Knights’ music was timeless of course, always innovative, and yes, definitely unequaled.

I paid the bill, closed my notebook, and walked out onto Sunset. I could picture them again, rocking the nearby Hollywood Bowl and hopefully the Carlson Club in Powell River, where it all started, all those years ago. The news made my day, my week, my year, and I hustled to the office to file my story.

Where they were now I wasn’t sure, they had quickly disappeared down the street, but I know where I’ll be when the time comes. At their first show of course. And I’ll be in seventh heaven.

It had been a long and winding road, but the Carnaby Knights will record one more time at least, stand on stage, rock the world like they used to, and drive women insane once again. It’s unbelievable. And it’s beautiful.

Below, the Carnaby Knights at the peak of their career. But the infighting was just beginning.

 

Clay And Liston In The Kitchen

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My mother and I had this special time when we’d listen to the radio together in the kitchen. I miss that.

We listened to music and the news and even the odd earth-shattering thing, like that morning when we heard about four fellows in Liverpool who wore their hair down on their foreheads, and who could sometimes sing high notes like women. The announcer, on Orillia’s CFOR, then played a record, and suddenly the Beatles were now in our lives.

We listened to something else pretty darn big too. The two Cassius Clay – Sonny Liston fights, when Clay was young and over the top motor-mouthed, and who was probably going to be smashed to smithereens by the big, strong ex-con Liston.

Liston was mean, powerful, and the World Champ, and he looked like he’d done his share of dumping bodies into deep lakes. Clay was gonna be in big trouble, like the Russians would be in the 1972 Summit Series.

I suppose it was Howard Cosell telling us through the radio that Clay was quick, how he danced and confused the big thug, and we realized that the young fighter was basically putting his money where his mouth was. It was a huge surprise.

Just like that, the young fellow who bragged, “After the fight I’m gonna build myself a pretty home and use him (Liston) as a bearskin,” had skinned the big bear, like he said he would, in February of 1964, the same month the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show.

A year later, in the rematch, with mom and I back at the radio, Liston refused to come out of his corner in the first round after the phantom punch, when he may or may not have been tagged by Clay and which kept him in the corner, and which officially made the guy a bum and Clay a hero.

Two big fights, the legend of Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali was born, and now it’s sad to hear of his passing. He was larger than life, a great boxer, a great man.

But it’s also bittersweet to hear this news. Because remembering the kitchen table with my mom and the radio makes me happy.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Ticket Please

It’s not a complete ticket stub collection. For instance, I don’t have my Led Zeppelin stub, or Hollies, or Ten Years After, or Stevie Ray Vaughn, or Dylan and the Band’s 1974 concert at the Montreal Forum, or the first time I saw Bruce Springsteen in 1976 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and so on.

But I managed to hold on to a bunch anyway.

I’m posting this because I’ve got nothing to say about the NHL All-Star Game.  Or those crazy Habs.

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Atlantic City

 

Here’s To You, Historic Habs

leo

I saw the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1966, and Janis and Zappa in Atlantic City in ’69.

I saw Led Zeppelin in Vancouver in ’73, and Evel Knievel sail over 13 Mack trucks on his motorcycle at the CNE in ’74.

NOn my TV in Orillia I saw the Kennedy assassination in ’63, and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in ’69.

And from my couch in Powell River in 2016, I saw the Montreal Canadiens have their lousiest season in 75 years.

The historic Habs.

Something to tell my grandchildren.

And their fifth loss in a row (forget the overall loss tally) was against the Boston Bruins, with good old Brad Marchand scoring one of four Bruins goals as his team rolled over the hometown Habs 4-1.

It’s the Twilight Zone, baby.

It was last year when Marc Bergevin gave Michel Therrien a four year contract extension that kicked in this season, at $2 million per, and which takes him to 2019.

This was the report at the time;

Montreal re-signed Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension Saturday, two weeks after the Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It really shows the stability that [general manager] Marc Bergevin and [owner] Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens,” said Therrien on a conference call. “We’ve progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It’s a sign of confidence.”

Continue to progress. Yes indeed.

Oh, you like Michel Therrien and argue that it’s not his fault this team is on the fast track into the depths of hell? Do you think getting Jonathan Drouin is the answer instead?

I don’t want my historic times tampered with. So lose boys. And then charge fans for your autograph on your days off.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 39-24, with their lone goal coming from d-man Mark Barberio. The sharpshooters are still on their extended lunch break.

Next up – Habs in Toronto on Saturday. Imagine.

Doing The Abbey Rd Shuffle

Abbey Road Studios, which opened in 1931 and where the Beatles recorded the majority of their work throughout the ’60s, is just a couple of dozen feet from the crosswalk at the corner where they walked across for their Abbey Road album cover.

You can see how it’s all laid out in the photos below.

Drivers have to stop for pedestrians here, which must be a pain in the keister for them. It’s a fairly busy street, and when I was there, there were plenty of Beatles fans strolling across as cars waited.

When the Beatles did their walk, police had traffic blocked off from either end, and the photographer was perched on a ladder in the middle of the street.

Anyway, I did it, it was terrific, and it’s now crossed off the bucket list.

Abbey Rd 4

Abbey Rd 6

Abbey Rd 2

Abbey Rd 3

Below, the studio.

Abbey Rd 8

Abbey Rd 9

Abbey-Road---Front-Page

What goes across must come back.

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Abbey R

Last Row On The Floor

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It’s August 17th, which means that exactly 49 years ago today,  in 1966, the Beatles played a pair of shows at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

I was at the afternoon show, Beatle haircut and all.

The boss let me go early from my slave labour construction job I was doing for the summer,  and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey that my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had gotten word to me just that morning that the DJ was going, and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but incredibly, they were still available when we showed up at the Gardens, and I scored a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor. That’s my ticket stub above, which I’ve managed to hold onto all these years. The DJ had a pass or something, and he disappeared into the crowd.

Several bands filled the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle, Bobby Hebb, the Remains, and a Toronto band I can’t recall, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls everywhere screaming and fainting and carrying on. When I think about it now, a camera would’ve been a good thing.

What else do I remember? I think it was stifling hot inside the Gardens, for one thing. And when the Beatles sang I could make out what song it was, but other than that it was all kind of muffled.  You couldn’t hear them clearly because of those wild and crazy girls, and that was one of the main reasons they forever stopped touring just 12 days later, after their show in San Francisco.

Best of all, I remember George, who at times would point to sections in the greys at the top of the old barn, and the greens just below, and when he did, the fans there would rise together in magnificent fashion. Power at the tips of his fingers, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Only it was George, with his friends at Maple Leaf Gardens.

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Habs Lucky To Lick Laffs

iron-on

It would’ve absolutely sucked to lose to the lowly Laffs on Hockey Night in Canada, coast to coast on a Valentine’s Day Saturday night, when Hab fans far and wide took their dates to romantic bars that also happened to have televisions.

But Montreal didn’t lose. They won 2-1.  Although it took a shootout to make it happen.

No use talking about how the Canadiens play their lousiest when it’s a basement dwellar they face. They can lose to the lowly Oilers and Sabres and Coyotes. It’s almost something we have to accept because they can be assholes that way.

But to lose to the Laffs would have been the last straw. It’d be like Gary Lewis and the Playboys winning a Battle of the Bands showdown with the Beatles. The Washington Generals clobbering the Harlem Globetrotters. Wile E. Coyote outsmarting the roadrunner.

But the Canadiens got it done in the shootout when both Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais showed some sweet moves, and the Leafs didn’t. (One of their guys scored in the SO but it wasn’t sweet like our guys 🙂 ).

All in all it was a fairly tight and slightly rough affair, with Toronto’s David Clarkson doing battle with Brandon Prust early in the first and then with Nathan Beaulieu later on after Clarkson had nailed Sergei Gonchar into the end boards and Beaulieu came a callin’.

An excellent “fight for your teammate” moment for Beaulieu, and an excellent removal from the game for Clarkson. And Beaulieu’s actions certainly go a long way in him becoming a true and respected regular on the team, something he’s been working on for several seasons, little by little. It appears his time has come and it must feel good.

Gonchar was gone for the night after that check, and hopefully he’s fine.

Not a pretty affair for the CH, not passionate, far from perfect. But we take the two points, retain fine bragging rights (Montreal edged Toronto 4-3 in the season opener), and the good guys get a chance to make it three in a row on February 28th when the Laffs once again return to the Bell to experience another heartbreaking disappointment. 🙂

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher tied things in the first period, a power play marker after some nifty passing from Pleks and P.K.

P.K. racked up more than 35 minutes on the ice, including a stretch of four straight in the second frame. I played a game last winter at a rink near Montreal and was ready for a defibrillator after four seconds.

Canadiens outshot Toronto 32-29, and Carey Price was his usual self. We expect no less and we get no less.

Next up – Monday, when the boys are in Detroit. I’m hoping like hell I’ll be near a television so I can see and then babble about. If I’m not near a TV, maybe I can bullshit my way through.

Nice little tribute to Danny Gallivan before the game, with much of the commentary from his buddy Dick Irvin.

Hearing Danny’s voice gives me goosebumps.

Danny