A Brush With Beatlemania – All Those Years Ago

Remembering The Last Time The Beatles Ever Played Live Together In Canada

By Linda McKellar

It was 50 years ago this August 17th.

Linda McKellar still has her tickets from not one, but two Beatle shows on August 17th, 1966 in Toronto. Notice the price on the tickets. The last time Paul McCartney performed in nearby Buffalo, New York, most tickets sold for well over $100.

Linda McKellar still has her tickets from not one, but two Beatle shows on August 17th, 1966 in Toronto. Notice the price on the tickets. The last time Paul McCartney performed in nearby Buffalo, New York, most tickets sold for well over $100. (You can click on image to enlarge it.) Photo courtesy of Linda McKellar

As a teen I was lucky enough to work in a restaurant frequented by Harold Ballard (who was an executive partner and later the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens) after races at the Fort Erie track and he gave us tickets to see the Beatles every year, expensive ones, $5.50!

The experience of their concerts was beyond belief and something I will never forget.

The streets around the Gardens were blocked by police and hordes of shrieking girls. Once inside it was bedlam. When the Beatles finally took the stage the screams reached the pitch of the Concorde (I couldn’t hear properly for two days) and the flashbulbs (all useless of course) were blinding.

I recall that Paul managed once to quiet the audience just a little for a slow song, Yesterday. As soon as “Yes-” came out of his mouth it was again hopeless to hear anything, which angered me because I WANTED to hear them!

One girl managed to crawl up to John. He bent and tousled her hair and it was lights out for her – fainted and dragged away like a rag doll as were so many others.

Ironically, my parents waited outside and could hear them well from the ceiling mounted speakers. After numerous diversions, when the show was already underway, the Beatles were taken in the back via a police van right in front of my parents.

John had the window slightly open and my mother said “Hi John” and he replied “Hello nice lady”! She got closer than any of us did!

I’ve been to many concerts since but, regardless of how flashy they were, none will ever compare.

Amazing that four guys could change culture and music with conditions and equipment that every garage band has today, and they didn’t need pyrotechnics and a bunch of dancers behind them to make it a show.

Many of their songs will live forever and that, as time has already proven, is no exaggeration.

A response from The Beatles' Liverpool headquarters to a fan letter Linda sent their way back then.

A response from The Beatles’ Liverpool headquarters to a fan letter Linda McKellar sent their way back then.

Linda McKellar is a Niagara, Ontario resident, a regular member of Niagara At Large’s growing community of readers, and an everlasting fan of The Beatles.

(A Brief Footnote by Doug Draper – Nine days after Linda and thousands of others were lucky enough to get tickets and  see The Beatles in Toronto, they performed the final concert of their 1966 North American tour at Cnadlestick Park in San Francisco, California  and announced that their touring days as a group were over.

That summer they had released a groundbreaking album called Revolver with intricate instrumental sounds which at that time, before the days of computers, were virtually impossible for any four musicians, however talented to reproduce on stage.

After the Candlestick show they would return to England and retreat to the studio where they would begin working on Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and a mind-blowing masterpiece of an album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

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