My Dad says that I actually saw The Beatles when we living in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
It was just before the global phenomenon which would become Beatlemania. They were performing or maybe conducting an autograph session in the parking lot of a supermarket called Supermac near the town of Newtownbreda - a small village just Southeast of Belfast. This is where we did our grocery shopping because it was the only real supermarket in the Belfast region back then.
The Beatles performed in Belfast twice, once in 1963 (with a show in Dublin) and then again in 1964. I was a wee thing at the age of 7. So I can barely recall this. But I did have a very cool exclusive Supersize Beatles badge and I always wondered where it came from. You could tell the winds of pop culture were about to blow in a very exciting direction. I watched BBC music institution Top of the Pops every week. The following year, on Feb 9 1964, allowed to stay up past my bedtime, I also saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and now I actually possess a recording of this historic performance on vinyl.
Over the years, I became a huge fan of John Lennon because I loved everything about him especially the way he wrote in tomes Spaniard in the Works, In His Own Write, and Skywriting by Word of Mouth.
His inventive prose reminded me of a cross between the whimsical words of Spike Milligan from The Goons and the surrealism of Alice in Wonderland's Lewis Carroll.
And of course, to me, every phase of The Beats music was mega fab. The night I heard Sgt. Peppers was an aural revelation and The White Album occupied my turntable for days on end.
In the 80's I deejayed in a club called The Cavern (one of the music phases in the infamous little basement club nestled beneath Kitchener's Metro Tavern). The underground cave like bar (which had served numerous times as a punk haunt, and was a formerly a 70's disco nook!) was now adorned Yellow Submarine animation along its walled mirrors. It was a quirky shrine to the music of The Fab Four and their British cohorts. Thanks to vinyl retail experts Records on Wheels, Sam the Record Man, Record World, and Encore Records, (then at the crossroads of King and Cedar Streets) I was able to collect many Beatle platters from very early works to some rare bootlegs.
Monday Dec 8 1980, just after 11pm, I was deejaying. I always had some John Lennon with me in my vinyl filled plastic milk crates. I put the needle on Dream #9 from 1974's Walls and Bridges and left the chicken-wire deejay cage for the night.
Like the rest of the world, I was devastated....
In 1994, in another of my many surreal life moments I met The Beatles Outside Circle - Cynthia Powell Lennon, (John Lennon's first wife) Pauline Sutcliffe (the late artist Stuart Sutcliffe’s sister), Pete Best (The First Beatles Drummer), Louise Harrison (George Harrison’s sister) and Allan Williams – The Beatles first manager. They were here in Canada for a Toronto Beatles convention called Beatlerama and my pal music promoter Peter Jacobs asked me (and photographer Lorne Eillott) if we would like to come down and cover the event.
So, summoning all of my nerve, and keeping my Inner Fan in check. I led an hour long wide ranging panel discussion with this Fab Five from Early Liverpool Days to the 1994 musical bio-drama Backbeat.
Afterwards, I was chuffed to find out that Cynthia Powell Lennon, had agreed to a more in depth interview with me. Part of the interview was published by Raj Kumar Dash in bi monthly alternative publication Chaos Magazine, and years later on Vancouver based internet magazine Suite 101. The Music Editor of Suite 101 did not believe the chat was real, so I had Cynthia's manager contact him for verification. Imagine my surprise when a got an email from her on my likely now defunct My Space page. (***By the way, the rest of these Fab Five chats have yet to be published. And yes, I am working on it. ***)
I had brought the book Imagine with me, by Andrew Solt and Sam Egan, found a lovely pic of John and Cynthia together in Florida after the first U.S. tour, took a deep breath and asked Cynthia for a scribble. She wrote - “To Coral with love from Cynthia Lennon. X.”
I also chatted a little more with Allan Williams. I had a hard copy of his book The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away. He asked me if I could trade my copy of the book for HIS paperback copy. Of course, he autographed it. AND.. I discovered that upon giving Allan Williams BACK his hard cover copy that in the soft cover edition that he gave me (with William’s scribble) there’s an inscription from someone else in Dartmouth, Canada who did the SAME thing.
It says: “To Allan Williams. This is now your copy of YOUR book. Thanks for signing mine. Only one favour. If you ever decide to give it up please let me know. I’ll be damned (insert expletive here) if I’m going to bid against some bloke in order to buy me own autograph….”
I know. I guess I should have kept the original hard cover copy. Hide-sight is 50/50 yeah yeah yeah...
I also have a beautifully framed John Lennon lithograph (sold to me by Allan Williams no
less!) of my music hero wryly walking on the water. It is called Nothing is Impossible and it has a Japanese stamp on it. It is one of my most proud possessions. So congrats on 50 years lads! May future generations continue to think of your musical legacy as The Toppermost of the Poppermost.