It’s been 50 years since The Beatles rocked Maple Leaf Gardens and to celebrate, Classic Albums Live is recreating the last Beatles show, note for note, cut for cut.
They will perform the original set list in its entirety plus tons of other hits.
It’s Classic Albums Live: Beatles 1966 at Maple Leaf Gardens in concert with the City of Toronto and Massey Hall.
You may have been one of the lucky souls to witness the spectacle that was the Beatles and undoubtedly your memories of the concert are just as vivid today as John, Paul, George and Ringo were standing in front of you then.
Let’s walk down memory lane, all the way back to Wed. Aug. 17, 1966:
Shake It Up Baby - by Christine Dirks
We were 14 and we had everything we needed that summer morning in
1966. There were letters of introduction from the Mayor of Sarnia and the
Managing Editor of The Sarnia Observer, a four foot long key to the city
which we’d cut from styrofoam, covered in white fabric and trimmed in
purple ribbon, a card professing our undying love, and tickets. Red box seats
for the afternoon concert. Gold fifth row floor seats for the evening. It was
August 17. The Beatles were performing that afternoon and evening at
Maple Leaf Gardens and Connie and I were on our way. My parents would
We’d ordered tickets from the Gardens once the concerts were announced.
The afternoon tickets arrived in the mail with a note that the evening concert
was sold out. We knew there had to be some still available so we called Stan
Obodiac, Director of Publicity at the Gardens but he was either out of the
office or busy.
We chose Obodiac as he’d replied to our earlier letter to Stafford Smythe,
President of Maple Leaf Gardens asking to attend The Beatles’ press
conference. Obodiac wrote that he was sorry only full-time journalists over
18 could attend. We thought he would remember us so we called and we
called and we called.
Finally we connected. We told him we were the ones who had asked to
attend the press conference thinking he might take pity. We pleaded. He
listened. He said he’d see what he could do. Days before the concert, two
tickets to the evening performance arrived in the mail – no charge.
We’d seen the Beatles the two summers prior but this time it would be
different. We were going to both concerts and we had letters.
One from Mayor Henry T. Ross, to the Gardens’ Press Office, requested we
be presented to The Beatles so we could make a presentation on behalf of
the City of Sarnia. Days prior we’d walked into the Mayor’s office with the
key and told the receptionist we were there to see the mayor. She asked
why. “We’re going to see The Beatles” we said “and we need a letter from
She went into his office and returned saying the Mayor was busy. “We’ll wait”
we said. She typed. We waited. She went back to his office. She returned in
a few minutes saying we could go in.
The mayor was a familiar figure. He was often pictured in The Sarnia
Observer sporting his mayoral chain while presiding at public events, once in
a canoe. He seemed amused by our request and said to wait outside, there
would be a letter.
We’d approached Geoffrey H. Lane, Managing Editor of The Sarnia Observer
in a similar manner. His letter requested we be afforded all the necessary cooperation
in the accomplishment of our duties.
We hadn’t told our parents about the evening concert reasoning if we did
they wouldn’t let us go as one concert- certainly for them – would be quite
enough. Our plan was to surprise them with the news following the
afternoon concert. “What could they do?” we said. “They’d have to let us
We were at the Gardens early to place the key on the stage. A St. John’s
Ambulance attendant said we weren’t allowed on stage but she’d do it for
us. We asked her to lean it by an amplifier. She did.
The concert was not unlike earlier ones. There were the opening acts then a
deafening roar as the MC began his introduction and The Beatles took to the
stage. We were on our feet screaming, crying, blowing a police whistle we’d
bought so they would hear the whistle and look at us. Then it was over.
George had touched the key. It was up for grabs. We hopped over the seats
and bolted to the stage. A girl was leaving with the key. “Stop” we yelled.
“That’s our key.” She ran to a phone booth, slammed the glass door, hugged
the key and started at us. We said we’d call the police. She opened the door.
We grabbed the key and headed for the press conference.
A security guard asked if we had press passes. We showed him the letters.
He directed us to a narrow dimly lit room with rows of chairs occupied by
quiet, well dressed teens. There was a speaker attached to a wall. Then we
heard those voices.
“We’ve been had” we cried tearing out of the room. We spotted a door,
yanked it open and there they were – seated at a table – a few quick strides
away. We were on a small landing holding onto a wrought iron railing
screaming, “We love you! We love you!”
In a flash, two of Toronto’s finest took us out of the press room, through the
Hot Stove Lounge, out the door to the blazing sun and Church Street where
my father was waiting. He looked at us. He looked at the police. Crying, we
told him we had tickets to the evening concert. “We’re going to the hotel” he
said. “We’ll talk about it later.”
We never did get to that concert. But at the press conference something
happened we never anticipated. For all those years looking at The Beatles
there was that one moment when they looked at us.
Were you at the last show? What’s your Beatle story or other cool concert stories?