Tag Archives: John Lennon

Ed Meets James Brown at the Shrine

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.”

Cheers
Ed

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!”

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John Lennon Stuff Made Me Some Cash

In the late 1970s or early-80s I bought, through an auction house in New York, one of John Lennon’s bank cards. It was from Barkleys bank, and it basically said that Lennon was free to use it as long as it was under $200, but more than that must be agreed upon by his two lawyers. I paid $120 for it.

Seriously. $200.

The little card was signed by Lennon and these two lawyers.

I held onto this card for a few years, and then I thought I should sell it, so I put an ad in the Ottawa Citizen, but no one called.

Except one day someone did call. He told me his name, said he used to play in a band in NYC, and was a big Beatles collector. And amazingly enough, he even described over the phone the card I had.

He said he didn’t have much money, but would I be willing to trade, and I said I didn’t mind having a look at what he might offer. So I went to his apartment.

His apartment was jammed full of Beatles memorabilia. It was amazing. And he looked at my card and said yes, that’s the one he thought.

He then pulled out a binder of sheets of original John Lennon lyrics written in pencil from one particular album ‘Sometime in New York City’, one of Lennon’s lesser known releases, and asked me if I would like to choose one of the lyrics sheets and trade.

So I did. I chose the track ‘New York City’ from the album, it was original indeed, in beautiful condition, and at the bottom was one of Lennon’s hand-drawn cartoons of him and Yoko.

I kept this piece of paper for several years. But then my first wife and I began thinking about how nice it would be to turn our dark, musty old basement into a beautiful rec room, and we started getting quotes, and each quote that came in made us more depressed. We didn’t have the thousands of dollars to get this done right.

So I decided to put my John Lennon lyrics in another New York auction, at Sotheby’s, and it sold for $7000. We finished the basement, bought brand new furniture for it, and added a lovely big television. It was here I watched my Habs, Canada Cups, and Expos.

 

John And Yoko – Two Habs Virgins

I think it was their own special way of saying “Go Habs!”

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I bought Two Virgins when I was in England in 1968, near the time of its release (which was only a few weeks before the release of the Beatles’ beautiful White Album), and before it was sold in America in a brown paper sleeve to cover up the body parts.

It’s a terrible album, consisting of John and Yoko shrieking and sending out other stupid noises that would make cats in heat sound like the Vienna Boys Choir.

At one point I sold it, which I’ve always regretted, probably because it was one of the few souvenirs I had of my trip to England. I hadn’t even brought a camera, which is the biggest regret.

I recently found this one at a used record store in Ontario, and even though it’s in rough shape, it was my chance to get the thing back. Even though it’s a ridiculous body of work. (“body”. Get it?)

I can’t imagine what the other three Beatles thought of this. Or John’s wife Cynthia, who was holidaying in Greece when Yoko came over for a sleepover at the Lennon home and contributed her body and shrieks to this thing.

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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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.

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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

 

How $150 Became More, Thanks To John Lennon

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34 years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead. It sucked then and it sucks now. Below is a re-posting of a story I wrote a few years ago that, although unrelated to that dreadful evening and the days that followed, has a definite Lennon connection.

Years ago, through an autograph dealer in New York, I bought a little Rolodex-style Barclays bank card for $150, a card that had once been issued to John Lennon. This little card stated that anything under $200 in Lennon’s account could be withdrawn by his two lawyers without permission, but over $200 must be authorized by Lennon.

The card was signed by Lennon and the two lawyers.

I held onto this card for quite some time, but decided at some point to see what someone might pay for it, so I put an ad in an Ottawa paper and wondered what kind of offers might come up. Soon after, the phone rang.

It was a fellow in Ottawa who said he knew what the card was, he was a big Beatles collector, and said he had once played in David Peel’s band in New York, a band Lennon had jammed with and had produced Peel’s “The Pope Smokes Dope” album. He asked me if I would be willing to come to his place and have a look at what he had, and maybe make a trade. So I went.

The guy’s apartment was jammed with Beatles memorabilia, worth a large fortune for sure, and I could tell he really wanted my card. But if I was going to make a trade,  what he was offering better be good. And it was.

He showed me about half a dozen sheets of Lennon’s hand-written lyrics of songs from the “Sometime in New York City” album, and suggested that if I wanted, I could choose one if would part with the card. Oh yes, I thought. I’ll definitely do this.

I chose the song “New York City,” written by Lennon in pencil, with his little caricatures of himself and Yoko drawn on the sheet along with the lyrics. I was more than happy to make this trade.

It wasn’t long after that when my wife and I, just making ends meet, thought our dingy old basement would look fabulous if it was gutted and renovated. Our house was small, we had two young kids, and living space in the basement would double the size of the house. It was a lovely thought to have such an addition, so I made the decision. I’d sell the Lennon lyrics.

I sent a copy of it to Sotheby’s in New York, and they asked if they could see the real thing to assess it properly, so down it went by courier. Soon after they wrote back and said yes, it’s authentic, and they put a possible selling price of $2500. I knew that in the near future Sotheby’s would be holding a Lennon auction, the timing was right, and the basement needed serious work, so I told them to go ahead and sell it.

It sold for $7000.

I know what you’re going to say. Imagine if I sold it today, it would go for much, much more. But $7000 was a big score for us back then, it had only been a $150 investment in the first place, and we were happy. And the basement ended up looking like a million bucks, with new furniture, a new televison, and lots of shelving to hold my hockey and Beatles collections.

Eventually we sold this house, got a fine price for it, definitely because of the new basement, and moved to Calgary. And the extra money we got from the sale allowed us to buy a beautiful place in Cowtown, which I was able to enjoy for a solid three years before my wife left me.

Suitable For Framing

I was going to wait until the Canadiens and Leafs squared off before posting this great picture but I see that they don’t play each other again until Valentine’s Day which is a long way away. So I decided to put it up today instead.

A great old Habs/Leafs illustration on the cover of a 1949 MacLean’s magazine, created by Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle and sent to me by Ed, a fellow who was at John Lennon’s Montreal press conference in 1969 and who handed John a Canadiens sweater and toque to wear, which you can see here – Lennon’s Habs sweater.

From Ed’s pile of old magazines – back in the days when players from opposing teams sat together in the penalty box.

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More To the Lennon/Habs Sweater Saga

A fellow named Ed sent details the other day of the time John Lennon held up a Habs sweater, which looked to be number 5 but was actually Bobby Rousseau’s number 15.

You can get the lowdown here – Update on John Lennon’s Habs Sweater.

Now, to add to the festivities, Ed has sent a picture of him actually giving the sweater to John at the time!

John and Ed

I’ll Take Several Please

Further to the John Lennon/Habs sweater update posted yesterday John Lennon’s Habs Jersey.

Ed, who filled us in on the details, paid $15.00 in 1969 for a Bobby Rousseau game-used Habs sweater. Besides the John Lennon aspect, that in itself is a mind-blowing detail.

In 1969, according to Calculator.net, $15.00 in 1969 is equal to about a hundred bucks today.

Fifteen bucks ($100) for Rousseau’s sweater. But If I’d known back then it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway because I had no money and neither did my parents.

In those days, when I was hitchhiking around the country with almost nothing to call my own except my clothes and a cool jean jacket, my mother would sometimes send me a five-dollar money order to help me out. I still have her letters.

Al McNeil’s early 1960s Habs sweater sold recently for $6700.00. Henri Richard’s from 1973-74  was $15,000.

Rousseau’s late ’60s gamer might be close to the McNeil price. Unless a couple of very serious bidders went at it and drove the price through the roof. Like Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series sweater, which went for $1.25 million.

In 1969, people didn’t collect memorabilia like they do today. If everyone saved their sports and music treasures from back then, everyone would now be lounging on easy street.

But most never thought of it. And so at McNiece’s, which was located in the Forum before the 1968 renovations and eventually moved across the street, a brand new unused Habs sweater sold for more than a game-used sweater worn by a hard shooting star like Bobby Rousseau.

It’s amazing to think about, but it’s how our society has changed. Memorabilia from all walks of life is now big business. It’s also why I have a job.

Here’s a picture I took of McNiece’s in about 1965. I never realized until now that part of my finger is in it.

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