Tag Archives: George Harrison

Last Row On The Floor

stub

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.

poster

My Brother Sends Some Pics

My brother just sent me these photos, at the bottom, from his vacation in London, England.

Important photos, because they’re of the Beatles’ iconic Apple offices at 3 Savile Row, where John, Paul, George and Ringo came and went, where they tried to help struggling artists and sometimes pretended to work, and where they sounded tight and together when they played on the rooftop in January of 1969.

I was 18 and with my buddy Robin in London that winter of 1969 when the Beatles played on the top of this building, but we had no idea and only found out about it later.

I’ve told this story before, but when Robin and I were in London, we knocked on the door of these Apple offices one day and when a woman answered, I asked if the boys were in. She said no, and on we went.

But we gave it a shot at saying hello to the Fab Four. And who knows, if one of them happened to be there he might have invited us in and I might have met Pattie Boyd. And she and I would’ve flirted and most likely ended up in the sack when George was busy in the studio arguing with Paul.

Below that, my brother’s camera shot from good ole Carnaby Street. Although this trendy street, in anybody’s ‘Swinging London’ conversation, was at its hippest peak in 1966 and 1967, Robin and I were there a year later, around the 17th minute of its 15 minutes of fame . We didn’t have money for bell bottomed trousers and polka dot shirts anyways, and Twiggy and the Shrimpton sisters had most likely already moved on.

At the bottom of the photos, Robin and I in London during that winter of 1968/69. I’m the one on the left, looking kinda goofy. It kind of makes me wonder if Pattie Boyd would’ve flirted with me.

Robin contacted me only a short while ago and it blew my mind as it’s been many years since I’d heard from him. He lives in Surrey, BC now, is a musician who goes by the name of Snazzy Rob, and has 4 CDs of standards from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, which he sent me copies of. He plays all the instruments and sings, and the music is soothing, fun, and very cool.

Robin I had a great trip to England, even though we slept standing up in a phone booth one cold night in Coventry, and in a homeless shelter in London on another. But as memorable a trip as can be.

And below the others, the ship we sailed on from Montreal to Liverpool, the Empress of England.

IMG_5875

IMG_5879

IMG_5882

Dear George, Dear Ringo

As we wait for Marc Bergevin to work his magic, and of course the  Habs and Leafs on Saturday night……….

I was telling this story to my buddy Wayne the other day, and he said I should put it on my blog. So I said okay.

Years ago I put a picture of George Harrison, from the Beatles “White Album”, into an envelope, along with a return envelope, a pen, and two bucks, and I mailed it to George at Friar Park, Henley-On-Thames, England.

A month or two later it came back, signed with a different pen than I had sent, and with the two bucks gone.

Of course I can’t say for sure whether it was George who signed. Maybe an employee did it for him, but it looks very much like his signature and I’m inclined to believe it’s real.

I also did the same thing for Ringo, although I forget what address I used, and it came back signed too. He also kept the pen but sent the two bucks back. I ended up selling it, along with a bunch of Beatles memorabilia, a long time ago.

As for Lennon and McCartney, their mail person must’ve gotten lost.

But I’ve still got George’s, and it’s probably the best two bucks I’ve ever spent.

George would have been 72 on Feb. 25th.

George 1

George 2

 

Just Sign It And Help Me With The Groceries

It’s certainly not very clear but written on George’s chin and neck is “To Dennis, Best Wishes, George Harrison.”

As some of you already know, I’m a big Beatles fan. Always have been, right from the beginning. I was a fan before they even played the Ed Sullivan Show. I went through my teen years with them. I saw them live in Toronto during their last-ever tour. I got drunk and stoned listening to them, and, if I was very lucky, made out with chicks in back seats of cars or at parties to the sound of George, Paul, John, and Ringo.

I still love the Beatles, and just a few weeks ago I bought, for about the fourth time, The White Album.

The White Album contains four 8×10’s of Beatle head shots, although now on CD they’re not 8×10’s of course, and at one point in my life, I decided that having at least one signed would be a nice thing. I knew George lived in a castle outside of London called Friar Park, so I put George’s picture from the White Album into an envelope, enclosed a self-addressed envelope, and added a Sharpie pen and a dollar. Then I mailed it to Friar Park and waited.

It was months later, but out of the blue, stuck in my mail slot, was the envelope. It was mangled pretty bad, in fact it looked like it had been nadled by someone very angry, but it came back signed. The dollar was gone and he used a thin-tipped pen, not the Sharpie.

Of course I can’t be sure if George signed it, but it looks like he did when I compare it other examples. Maybe it was the laundry lady or the guy who waxed his Bentley. I like to think it’s his, although he didn’t want to. 

I have a theory about what happened and why the envelope looked like it had been through a war. George hated touring, fans screaming, and all that went with being a Beatle. He was one of the first of the four who entertained the idea of the Beatles breaking up.

He probably would have hated to see a letter requesting an autograph. So he opened up my package, cursed, rolled it up in a ball, and threw it in the garbage. Of course his wife Olivia, the level-headed one, would have been disgusted with his performance and told him he shouldn’t do that, that a nice Canadian fan wanted an autograph and how hard would it bet? Heck, a staff member would even take it the post office.

So George reluctantly retrieved it from the garbage, muttered something about her probably being right, and signed it. He kept the dollar because it was his way of protesting, but why did he change pens?

Hmmm.

I think when he scrunched it up in anger and threw it in the waste basket, the Sharpie broke. So he grabbed another, which had a fine tip. He also thought to himself, “I’m being forced to do this so the signature’s going to suck a little. Hah!”

Olivia just shook her head at his little tantrum. “Ringo doesn’t act like this,” she replied sternly. “The meditating just isn’t working. Now get up and help me with the groceries.”

 

Gaston Took The Time To Help Out

He’s a ladies man, a world-traveler, an ex-con, a horrible lecher, a big Habs fan, a nasty drunk, he can’t be trusted, and is a complete asshole.

Now I find out he was sort of a fifth Beatle.

“Gaston wasn’t a musician in the band,” says an Abbey Road spokesman, “but he ran everything. He looked after the groupies, the drugs, and the alcohol, and told the boys all they had to do was concentrate on their music. What a generous and gracious guy he was. Almost a saint.”

I also discovered that Gaston frequently told the four Beatles to leave Pattie, Maureen, Cynthia and Jane in his capable hands while the guys were traveling, which I thought was quite kind of him, as the ladies must have taken up a great deal of his time. And out of the goodness of his heart, even suggested that he stay with the ladies overnight so they wouldn’t be afraid when the boys were away.

He did, however, tell John to take Yoko with him as much as possible, for some reason.

Blame The Look Of Hockey Fans On The Beatles

Things were going so well. Rinks in Montreal, New York, Toronto, Boston, Chicago and Detroit were filled with people looking like they were going to church and went in the wrong building by mistake. Fedoras, shawls, hats with feathers in them, polished shoes, diamonds, all on display in the seats above as players grunted and spit and smashed noses in below.

It was the perfect blend.

Then those darn Beatles and others with guitars and drums showed their faces, wearing longer hair than people were accustomed to, and it was the beginning of the end. As the months turned into years, jeans and ragged shirts added to the long hair and it all became the style of the day that has lasted even to now.

Hockey fans, of course, were not immune, and were quickly swept away by the look brought by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the rest, and soon, fedoras, shawls, diamonds, and hats with feathers in them were sadly put in trunks and only brought out when the kids were dressing up for Halloween.

Now, instead of looking like a million bucks, fans have taken to wearing hockey jerseys to games. It’s weird, yes it is, but they have. And NHL owners are sitting back looking at their jersey sales receipts and lighting cigars and drooling.

Blame it on the Beatles. If they would’ve shown up on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 with brushcuts and fedoras, arenas might still look like churches.

But the Forum, Maple Leaf Gardens, Boston Garden, Madison Square Gardens, Chicago Stadium, and the Detroit Olympia WERE cathedrals, weren’t they?

Postscript:

One of the things I’m most proud about is the fact that I saw the Beatles live, in Toronto, in 1966. The following is a small post I did a couple of years ago about this huge event in my life. Seeing The Beatles

Shocking Admission From Luke Schenn

luke_schenn_165x250I don’t know how to say this. Bear with me while I get myself together.

Luke Schenn has admitted recently that he doesn’t know the names of any of the Beatles. Schenn had taken in a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s “Love”, which is based on the music of the Beatles, playing at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Afterwards, Schenn was asked by an inquisitive reporter if he could name any of the Beatles. “No, not even close,” admitted the young Toronto Maple Leaf’s star.

How can this be? Or, the question is, do most 20 year’s old not know the names of the Beatles?

Say for the sake of argument that he’s never heard of George Harrison and Ringo Starr because he’s young.  But surely he’s heard the names Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Or maybe just Paul McCartney, because he’s still out there working. John was killed in 1980, nine years before Schenn was born, but you have to think that Schenn would’ve at least heard the name growing up.

I’m having a hard time with this.

I suppose there’s only one real explanation. He’s a Leaf.

00210

Regrouping With A Group

I think it’s time to switch gears a little. The playoffs are hell and there’s only so much we can endure. We need an escape and I’ve got a beauty for you. For those older, this might be a journey back. For younger people who don’t know much about the Beatles, I hope you enjoy this. This is the band many of us grew up with. The band many of us feel is the greatest ever. This is 2 minutes and 46 seconds that you don’t have to think about what’s going on in the playoffs.

It’s the Beatles in a nice, intimate setting in the studio doing Get Back in 1969, and it’s a tremendous piece of video. Billy Preston, who played keyboards for them from time to time, shows up, and you get a glimpse of Mick Jagger enjoying the moment.

This goes out to all Habs fans. Let’s hope the boys can “get back.”

So, as Ed Sullivan once announced, “And here they are, the Beatles!”

The Beatles And The Habs – A Winning Combination.

 On August 17th, in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there.

I was 15 years old and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that he was going and asked if I would like to go with him. I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, the show wasn’t sold out and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row of the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had the kiddies. Yvon Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23. Jacques Laperriere 24. And Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs have continued on over the years in mostly glorious fashion. The Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

And the Leafs continue to suck.