Tag Archives: The Beatles

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.

McNiece's

 

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

Fifty years ago today the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. The first time most kids and parents in North America had seen them.

How time flies. I was 13. A skinny kid who played hockey, went to church, listened to Roy Orbison and Elvis on my little red transistor radio, and dreamed of playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

Then the Beatles came along and pretty soon I was growing my hair, dancing and smoking, and wanting to do more than just holding hands.

I won’t blame them for killing my dream of playing for the Habs, although I should. It just never helped when I’d skate down the right side with the puck in an important game, singing Beatles songs under my breath as I went.

Didn’t help one bit. Lack of focus.

I was as impressionable as can be, and the Beatles left a lasting impression.

It was a big moment in my life. Fifty years ago today.

 

 

150 Bucks Became $7,000, Thanks To John Lennon

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, wondering 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 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, it had better be good what he was offering. 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 I sent it down 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, 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, probably 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.

Name Scribblings

Tim Thomas has just signed an exclusive autograph deal with some company which obviously has money to burn, for $300,000 for one year.

I pulled out my trusty calculator and found that if Thomas signed 8×10′s that sold for 20 bucks, he would have to sign 15,000 in one year for this company to get their money back. That’s a lot of pictures. Are there 15,000 people out there willing to buy Tim Thomas’ autograph?

That’s good work if you can get it. All that money for signing your name. As much as the Prime Minister makes. You can even write off all the pens you go through as a business expense in your Online Tax Software.

I wouldn’t spend 20 cents for a Tim Thomas autograph. In fact, if I was rich, the only autographs I would consider buying would be Babe Ruth’s, Howie Morenz, and the Beatles.

I did, however, have a look in eBay for you if you’re interested in a Scott Gomez autograph! And no, there’s no need to thank me.

I found lots stuff signed by Gomez, and they range from five bucks to thirty bucks. Can you imagine how much beer you could buy for thirty bucks? There was an 8×10 of Gomez in a Habs jersey selling for $15.32 or best offer. I don’t mind the 32 cents part.

And I noticed a Scott Gomez game-worn pair of skates from when he was a Ranger, selling for $300.00. This might be a good deal, but only because the skates might cost more than that at the local sporting goods store anyway.

And by the way, his signature sucks. Look at this mess. In my mind this is just laziness and shows no respect for the fans.

Now have a look at these that I also noticed on eBay. These are people who take their time, and show respect to the fans. Nice signatures, that you can read. Jean Beliveau, Johnny Bower, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and John Bucyk.

 

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.

Great For Habs Fans…Not So Great Elsewhere

The summer of 1965 was a fine time for Habs fans. The team had captured the Stanley Cup that spring by beating the Chicago Black Hawks four games to three, and Jean Beliveau became the very first winner of the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP.

Joyfully, at least for Habs fans, the team would win the Cup again in the next year when Henri Richard scored the overtime winner in game six over Detroit.

Yes, it was a good time to be a fan of the Montreal Canadiens.

It was a good time in many ways. Jobs were plentiful in Canada and the US. One could conceivably quit a lousy gig on Monday and grab maybe a better one on Tuesday. And if Tuesday’s job sucked, then just find another on Wednesday.

Music was bursting at the seams at this time. The Beatles were in full throttle, as were the Rolling Stones and the rest of the British Invasion, and the Americans donated the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkle, and the sounds of Motown to the pop charts.

Unfortunately, beneath the rosy, smiling setting of mid-1960′s lay a rotting, ugly underbelly. And it stunk to high heaven.

The Cold War reminded us daily that the Russians could obliterate us at any time unless we did it to them first. Vietnam was as brutal as any war in the history of wars. And blacks were treated as third-class folks, sometimes strung from trees, which led to protests and demonstrations which often began as peaceful and quickly turned deadly. Hatred and racism oozed from the pores of those who never knew they had it.

In July of 1965, just when Habs fans were savouring a Cup win and preparing for another, with Jean Beliveau the toast of the town and Henri Richard soon to be, a songwriter in Los Angeles, PK Sloan, penned a tune to describe the times, singer Barry McGuire recorded it, and just like that, an unknown and his song were filling the airwaves.

This is what we listened to at our dances and on our radios as we made our way through the summer of ’65. We even sang along. Take it as a reminder that although now is a deadly and depressing time, other years were too. But sometimes things change and get better if we’re patient and work at changing.

It’s Called “The Eve of Destruction,” and these are the lyrics.

The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad feels like coagulatin’
I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist  the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

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