Friday 9 September 2016


The Beatles, vanguard of the British Invasion, felt more like prisoners when they arrived for their first-ever appearance in Toronto on Sept. 7, 1964.
Over the course of two shows, more than 33,500 screaming fans packed Maple Leaf Gardens to watch the Liverpool band play. Toronto Police constables formed rigid lines around their digs (the King Edward Hotel), the airport and the Gardens, as if expecting outright anarchy.
Fans gave it to them.

The Beatles perform a sold out show at Maple Leaf Gardens, Sept. 7, 1964
“Beatle fans surged against police lines in the street below while John Lennon casually modeled a fan-sent striped nightgown in the eighth floor vice regal suite of the King Edward hotel,” began a story by Star reporter Gerry Barker, who embedded with the band during their stay.
About 3,500 of those fans actually did break through police lines as the band was about to step into several limousines bound for the Gardens, the Star reported. Several were injured, none seriously.
The Beatles snagged a $93,000 paycheque (about $727,000 today) for just two half-hour shows. Despite its brevity, the Star never actually reported their set-list — something of a cardinal sin in concert coverage. A Star reporter standing in the Gardens for the show explained why.
“On came the Beatles and for 30 minutes it was like standing directly behind a supersonic jet readying for take-off,” the Star reported of the incessant screaming of the thousands of Beatles fans throughout the show.
Their fame, however, proved to be an impediment.
“Travelling around the country basically as prisoners of their own success, the Beatles take it all in easy-going fashion,” reported the Star.
Plans to step out and greet the thousands of Beatles fans outside the King Edward were quashed by no less than the Chief of Toronto Police. In fact, the bandmates were shuttled back from their concert at the Gardens in the back of a police van.
John Lennon, sitting with the other Beatles in their hotel suite, summed it all up in a single wisecrack.
“The best view of the country is over the blue shoulder of a policeman.”

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