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.