Beatles fans remember 1964 Montreal performance Live

The Beatles (clockwise from top right: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) wave to fans after landing at a tour stop in 1964. 
(Photo by The Associated Press) 

'I remember the concert as if it were yesterday'

Leslie Sullivan (née Kuchta) of Saskatchewan was originally forbidden to see the Beatles but was surprised with two tickets by her father:

"I saw the Beatles live in Montreal on Sept. 8, 1964. I was 12. My mother was afraid I would be trampled, so forbade me to go. I cried for days, listening to 45s, mourning my loss. 

THEN – the day before the concert, my father came home from work with two tickets to the 4 p.m. show. He took me. He hated popular music, and we listened to a lot of opera and the classics at home. But he did it for me. 

I can close my eyes and remember where we were sitting, the feel of the chair, the screams and the music.

My aunt in Montreal just reminded me of the date in an email, but I remember the concert as if it were yesterday. I can close my eyes and remember where we were sitting, the feel of the chair, the screams and the music. In my lifetime of attending concerts, I have only rarely experienced that same phenomenon – of feeling the music so intensely, that it takes over and I become one with the music. You know the feeling.... I am not crazy or a groupie type, but an intelligent lawyer in Saskatchewan. But it was an incredible experience. 

It was the summer of A Hard Day’s Night and from the minute they walked on stage, to the end, I wept. Constant tears. I knew all the words to all the songs. We brought binoculars and my father’s opera glasses. But I couldn’t see through them, as they fogged up from my crying. So, there were two desperate girls seated next to us and my father, with some trepidation, let them look through the glasses. If I could transport back in time, I wish I could go back there.
I would love an opportunity to share my experience with your listeners or readers. When I mention to young people today that I saw the Beatles live at the Montreal Forum in 1964, I am treated like a hero."

Leslie Sullivan (right) with her family in 1964. (Courtesy Leslie Sullivan) 

Limited amenities make for smelly Forum

Bruce Mitchell, who now lives in New York State, shared his wife Sally's story with CBC News:

"My wife, Sally, travelled from Ottawa on one of several charter buses.  

Only 15 years old, she was escorted by her father, who held a high position in the government at that time. In a conversation, several decades ago, he recounted his adventures on that trip.  

Apparently, he was one of a handful of parents acting as chaperones. Having been a Canadiens season-ticket holder for many years after the war, he was familiar with the limited 'amenities' at the Forum. 

Apart from the deafening screaming (which drowned out the music) his most vivid memory of the concert was the pervasive smell of urine. Apparently, far too many of the young ladies present at the concert weren’t as familiar with the Forum. 

My wife still loves the Beatles and counts that evening as one of her most memorable."

Glenn Keith Cowan (father) and Sally M.J. Cowan in the 1960s

'The racket at the Forum was incredible'

Judyth Lapomme of Montreal was at the Forum, even if she wasn't a big fan of the Fab Four:

"I was there and today's discussion on Radio One brought it back -- to the point that I can hardly believe it's been 50 years.

Once the Beatles came out, the screaming and weeping nearly drowned out the band.

Anyway, I wasn't one of the girls lining up; in fact, I wasn't much of a Beatles fan, having already discovered the Rolling Stones in their blues mode. I was given my ticket because a cousin was a real fan and her parents wanted her accompanied by a slightly older, ostensibly more responsible person and chose me. (Quite possibly based on my reputation as a good babysitter.) But I was teased about the concert beforehand and my stepmother bet me a bottle of perfume that I'd blow my cool and scream.

Before I knew I was going to the concert, and being a fan of CKGM's DJ George Morris, when I heard he was to emcee, I went off to Ogilvy's for a pound of Jelly Babies (reputed to be the Beatles' favourite candy and something their British fans were known to throw at them) and dropped in at the station to present them to George as a joke.  

On the night, the racket at the Forum was incredible, even when only Dave Boxer (a CFCF celebrity at the time) and George were onstage. Once the Beatles came out, the screaming and weeping nearly drowned out the band. Niagara Falls is quiet by comparison. It's just as well -- everyone knew the lyrics by heart. 

There were two main results for me at the time: elevation from what we would now call geek status to somewhat enviable for having seen the Beatles live, and a short-term influx of extra pocket money when I figured out how to order the Beatles' British EPs (45s with two songs per side that were never released here) from the UK.

Oh, and a third was winning that bottle of perfume: I hadn't screamed even once."

The Beatles played the Montreal Forum on Sept. 8, 1964 (Video still from Radio-Canada) 

Stroke of luck

Diane Houle was 11 years old when she was pulled out of school and thrown onto the train from Ottawa to Montreal to catch the Beatles' matinee show.

Her mother had entered a contest for Beatles tickets prior to the family moving from their home in Châteauguay to Ottawa. 

It was a stroke of luck that the Houle household received a pair of tickets in the mail the morning of the show. The tickets arrived just in the nick of time, having been sent to their Châteauguay home first. 

Houle said her mom shared the news with her when she came home for lunch and decided to send her to Montreal to catch the show with her grandmother. 

Her only regret? Not keeping the ticket.

Listen to her story here:

Diane Houle on the Beatles
by Tracey Lindeman

Diane Houle at the age of 11 (left) and today. She's been a collector of Beatles memorabilia since discovering the band in the early '60s, and this is just a sampling of her collectibles. "I am also wearing Beatles earrings bearing the Apple sign," she says of the more recent picture. (Photos courtesy of Diane Houle)

Four nicely dressed fellows

Jane Brunet drove in from the country with her mother to attend the Beatles show at 4 p.m.:

"I was at the 4 p.m. show. My Mum bought the tickets, and we drove in from the country to attend. I think that I have old negatives of pictures that I took with my Brownie camera that day. I asked Mum about the trip this past Monday, and she was amazed that it was 50 years ago. 

Watching the attached video makes me realize how innocent we really were back then. Just four nicely dressed fellows held our attention, no glitzy gimmicks or over-amplified sound. I haven't figured out if I just feel old or privileged that I was able to be part of history. I can't wait for 'memories of Expo 67.'

Excited fans lined up around the block on the night of Sept. 7 to make sure they got a good spot at the Montreal Forum. (Video still from Radio-Canada) 

Winning ticket

Ken Lambon won a pair of tickets to the evening Beatles show from the Montreal Star newspaper:

"Yes I was there for the 8:30 p.m. show. Won the tickets for selling a certain number of new subscriptions to the Montreal Star. Went with the lady who ran the newspaper depot I picked up the newspapers from, as she was the only who could go with me and she had a car. 

Actually, her husband drove us there and picked us up. I think the stage was high up to keep the fans from getting on stage."

"I am the tall fellow between the man and the fellow in the tie -- the one with the big ears. No wonder kids use to tease me!" Ken says. 


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