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Memory Lane: We asked for your memories of The Beatles and boy, did you deliver

A half-eaten piece of a Beatle’s toast, touring their hotel room after their first Toronto show and the delicious taste of the bubble gum that came with the band’s collector cards 

"Our parents laughed and figured they’d be gone in a year," says retired broadcaster Scott Turnbull about The Beatles. invited readers to share their memories of one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. 

"The Beatles have had more influence than anything or anyone else. When you look back, you realize they changed everything. Our music. Our clothes. Our haircuts. Our attitudes. They weren’t just a band, they were a cultural phenomenon," says Turnbull, who grew up in Sudbury and worked at CKSO from 1976 to the early 1980s.

The band's beat turned him on to rock, a passion that led to a 43-year career in broadcasting. 

Turnbull, who now lives in Sault Ste. Marie, wanted to be a drummer like Ringo Starr. 

"Within a year or two, I knew I was never going to be much of a drummer. But I wanted to be part of the whole music thing, so I got into radio. It’s dragged me around a bit. It was lots of fun … met lots of great people."

Sue Perry has been a fan of The Beatles since 1964 when she saw them in concert in Toronto. Some 33,500 fans attended one of the two concerts Sept. 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Ticket prices ranged from $4.50 to $5.50. (Ticket stubs from the concerts now sell on eBay for several hundreds of dollars.)

"We had gone to visit my cousin who happened to have an extra ticket. My seat was by myself in the greys. My cousin was closer to the stage. I can’t imagine letting a 12-year-old sit by themselves in an arena in a different city in this day and age."

Perry got to relive some of the excitement years later when she took her son to see former Beatle Paul McCartney in concert. 

She recommends The Beatles tour to visitors to Liverpool. 

"We took the Fab Four Tour. They take you to all the sights associated with The Beatles. Amazing tour well worth taking."

David Hawkins got an up-close peek at the band when they played in Toronto on their first tour of North America.

 "My Aunt Peggy managed the coffee shop at the King Edward Hotel. She knew the manager of the front desk and arranged for my parents to get a room on the same floor as The Beatles.

"My father negotiated a deal with one of the security guards for my five siblings, mother and father, to stand in a little alcove off the hallway. (We were) in our pajamas. 

“I could have reached out with my little arms and touched The Beatles as they walked by. I recall the white towels around each of their shoulders. 

"There were 3,000 screaming fans (mostly teenaged girls ) trying to get into the  lobby. They besieged the hotel for 36 hours. I recall the night of the concert, a wall of mounted police surrounded the hotel holding the screaming crowd back. The sight of police on horses seemed enormous and scary to my nine-year-old eyes. 

"The next morning, I returned to the lobby, and witnessed the continuing mayhem. One sight that is etched indelibly in my mind is that of a teenage girl shaking and screaming she had a piece of toast that had been partially eaten by one of the Fab Four.

"My dad, an excellent negotiator, got (the family) a tour of their suite the next morning, before the room was cleaned. The pile of abandoned gifts was a pyramid that extended to the ceiling. One of the gifts was a two-foot long comb."

Jamey Burr remembers The Beatles'  North American television debut Feb. 9, 1964, because it was his seventh birthday. 

"The next day at school all the talk was, of course, about The Beatles. Our teacher at R.L Beattie Elementary School took me aside with three other male students and told us in secret that we were going to perform as The Beatles at a school assembly later that week. This was long before lip-synching and karaoke were common. 

"I don’t remember the song we used in the number, but I do remember a number of girls rushing the front of the stage and screaming. Few if any of those girls had paid attention to me in any way before that time, nor did they after the event. But for a brief moment I thought there might be something to this rock 'n' roll stuff."

The Beatles stopped touring in 1966, but that did not diminish their popularity. Martin Stone saw George Harrison in concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1974.

"I stood in line overnight to get my ticket. Had Harrison been a solo artist instead of the Fab Four, he would have been given higher exposure and his talent would be more recognized.
"I’ve been lucky to see Paul McCartney (even once with Wings) six times and Ringo Starr twice. Sadly, never had a chance to see John Lennon."

Timothy Lynham's five older sisters were fans, but he liked the pink bubble gum that came with Beatle collector cards. 

"They (sisters) used to send me to the local Kresge store to buy a four-pack of Beatles cards that came with flat gum. The deal was that I kept the gum and they got the cards," he says.

Edmonton-based broadcaster journalist and sound artist Don Hill remembers his youth in Sudbury and a man named Andy who took care of the local hockey rink. Andy played Beatle music to usher the boy hockey players off the ice to make room for girls playing ringette.

"There were quarrels with the girls over ice time. Ringette was new and quite the thing. And we boys figured the sooner we could encourage the girls to be done with their game, well … the faster. This is where The Beatles came in handy. 

"It’s 1968 – the beginning of winter – to smoothly transition from ringette’s time on the rink to hockey with the least amount of lollygagging and goofing around, Andy cued up a Beatles record and blasted it out over the rink’s public-address system.

"Really liked The Beatles, Andy did. 'Not sure about this new record though,' I recall him saying. It was their very latest, "The White Album," a departure for The Beatles, especially Side 4 of the double album. And it became Andy’s secret weapon. 

"The quickest and most efficient way to clear the ice of stragglers was to blast out ‘Revolution Number 9’ (an eight-minute experimental sound collage). ’Helter Skelter’ kind of worked, too."

Fan Eddie Moore sent this remembrance. "All I can say is that after watching The Beatles that first time on The Ed Sullivan Show, it was like a nuclear bomb going off in my life. After PE class at school that next morning, all of us were in the showers washing the Brylcreem out of our hair forever."

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer (and a Beatles fan). Memory Lane is made possible by our Community Leaders Program