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Memory Lane: Share your memories of The Beatles

Where were you on Feb. 9, 1964?

This week in 1964, The Beatles had the top five songs on the Billboard Top 100 with "Can't Buy Me Love" at No. 1, followed by "Twist and Shout", "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Please Please Me."

Seven other Fab Four songs were on the Top 100 during the first week of April.

Sudbury.com invites readers to share their Beatle-related memories and stories of how their music became the soundtrack to their lives for a follow-up story April 13.

If you are a senior citizen, born between 1940 and 1960, you probably remember watching The Beatles' first appearance in North America on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964.

The Sullivan show began to broadcast in colour the following week, so record-breaking audiences were treated to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in living colour for their second performance Feb. 16.

The band performed a third time on the variety show Feb. 23.

Baby Boomers know the words of most Beatles songs because they played their 45 rpm singles and LPs over and over.

The Beatles led the "British invasion" of pop music, art, fashion and culture. Although the band from Liverpool broke up in 1970, they influenced a generation or two who remember the band's trendsetting "mop top" haircuts, slim-fitting drain leg pants, Chelsea boots, and later, colourful Sgt. Pepper fashions, Nehru shirts, love beads, and longer hair and beards. 

Capitol Records released the mono album "Beatlemania! With the Beatles" in Canada on Nov. 25, 1963 – two months before their first American album, Meet the Beatles, was released.

Prior to their Sullivan performance, the mania was catching in Canada when radio stations began playing  "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Roll Over Beethoven," following the release of the album.

From 1964 to 1966, The Beatles played seven concerts in Canada. 

The band's first Canadian appearance was unplanned. Their plane stopped at the Winnipeg airport for refuelling on its way to  San Francisco on Aug. 18, 1964. Beatles' manager Brian Epstein encouraged them to disembark and wave to fans.

Their last concerts in Canada took place Aug. 17, 1966, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. There was an afternoon appearance and an evening show. Ticket prices ranged from $4 to $5.50.

Over the years, I have heard stories from people who attended their Maple Leaf Gardens concerts, but remember they could not hear a word because teenagers were screaming.

I once interviewed a Sudbury woman who grew up in Liverpool and hung around the clubs where The Beatles and other bands played in the early years. One memorable night, she and her girlfriends sang backup for the band.

In 1966, my mom sent a cheque to Olympia Stadium in Detroit for tickets for the band's Aug. 13 matinee performance. Tickets were $5.50 (US). Unfortunately, the matinee was sold out, and we didn't feel safe attending an evening performance. We said, "Next time." There would never be a next time. The Beatles stopped touring.

Seeing band members play live was on my bucket list for a long time. In August 2010, I paid $200 for a ticket to see McCartney at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. In August 2019, I saw Starr and his All Starr Band at the Windsor Casino. Yeh, yeh, yeh.

Fifty-seven years later, John, Paul, George and Ringo and their music are still very much part of my life. My car radio is tuned to The Beatles station on SiriusXM.

In what is my favourite story about nearsighted urban renewal, the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the band played in their early years, was torn down in 1973 to build a subway ventilation shaft. A change in plans left the site a parking lot. 

After Lennon's death in 1980, there was a resurgence in The Beatles’ popularity. A replica Cavern was built across the street from original with bricks from the original. It is among the top tourist attractions in the city. 

Grey-haired fans from around the world line up for Beatle-themed tours of Liverpool

A new documentary about the band is expected to be released in August. Directed by Peter Jackson, "The Beatles: Get Back" features studio footage not seen before that was shot for the 1970 film "Let It Be."

Send your Beatle memories to  editor@sudbury.com or vgilhula@gmail.com.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. Memory Lane is made possible by our Community Leaders Program