I consider Ed Wolk a good friend of mine for sure. A great guy Ed is, we’re about the same age, and we have similar interests, including the Habs (Ed grew up a Habs fan in Montreal), he’s a long time Beatles fan like me, and he knew John and Yoko, which I’ll talk about at a later time.
Ed has sent me a great letter from the time the great James Brown came to the Montreal Forum, and he’s also included some cool photos from the Bell Centre,
Here’s Ed’s letter from that time at the Forum in 1971 when he covered the James Brown concert.
Take it away, Ed…
“In the off season the Montreal Forum was the venue for many rock concerts and other events.
Even the Montreal Symphony had a series called “Dollar Concerts”…yes the price of admission was one dollar!…unfortunately the acoustics sucked….sorry, I digress.
Back in 1971 the Forum hosted the ‘Godfather of Soul’…James Brown!
At that time I was working at a radio station and was invited to a pre-concert press conference at the Forum…which was held at, of all places, the Montreal Canadiens dressing room.
How many times at a Habs game had I looked at the CH logo on the door of the dressing room…and there was no way that I would gain access within, until that day in ‘71.
There was probably a dozen or so media people in the room, we sat on the players benches and James Brown sat on a chair, and I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, sitting in the inner sanctum of my favourite hockey team. My eyes did a tour of the room…the photos of Morenz, the Rocket, Toe Blake etc….
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sitting in the ultimate Canadiens hockey shrine reading that famous quote of John McCrae..”To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high”…I got goosebumps!
I somehow managed to return to reality and the charismatic presence of Jame Brown “in the house”.
Near the end of the press conference..Brown, who was sitting about eight feet away from me..looked me straight in the eyes and said..”Anything you want to ask me, brother?”
Stunned..my reply was very simple…”No, Mr Brown…I’m just happy to be here!”
Imagine…I’m in the Canadiens dressing room with James Brown…doesn’t get any better!”
Oh, and the concert?
“The concert was great…It was a James Brown Review ..his backup band”The Flames” opened the show with an instrumental…James would come out sing a couple of songs..then he would showcase a singer…let her do a solo…he’d be back to do a duet with the singer…another couple of tunes….showcase another singer…Flames would be featured in another instrumental…and so on…a great show!
Saw him again a few years later at Place des Arts…a great showman!…always willing to share the spotlight on stage with others.”
And Ed’s photos are in the inner sanctum of the Bell Centre, including the one above of him in the dressing room.
“Michael Whalen invited me to tag along while he covered the Habs practice in Brossard (for TSN),” says Ed. “It was the first time I got to see Carey Price.”
“After the practice the players were bused back to the Bell Centre to shower etc…then there was the media scrum. I asked Michael to take my photo in the dressing room, and you’ll notice it predates the ‘No Excuses’ sign!”