Beatles from Vancouver to Mexico City
“All my loving” Beatles from Vancouver to Mexico City
by Dorothy Bell
I saw the Beatles August 22 1964 – My sister Camille and I and 20,261 other screaming fans. It was an incredibly short concert – 27 minutes – at Empire Stadium in Vancouver BC – a venue generally reserved for football games and other large scale sporting events.
Our tickets in the bleachers cost $3.25 (the most expensive we $5.25) – incredibly cheap but for us they were dear. Back then we made 25 cents an hour babysitting. That was considered a great wage for looking after children.
Earlier that day, Camille and I took the bus from the suburbs to the Georgia Hotel in downtown Vancouver to the where the Beatles were scheduled to arrive later that day. We proceeded to scout out the entrances as did the hundred or so other girls. Where would THEY enter? We speculated on the time.
Girls were climbing a drainpipe in the alley in an attempt to get inside. Their efforts were thwarted by security but this did not discourage my sister and I. While security was dealing with the drain pipe we saw our opportunity and quickly took it. Camille and I and another half dozen girls or so, captured a hotel cook as he entered the back service door. We wouldn’t let him go until they let us in the hotel.
They did and we waited patiently for an hour or so until they informed us that the Beatles were not coming to the hotel but rather were going straight to the stadium. Unless we got a move on we would miss the whole thing.
We were allowed to write notes and we proceeded to scribble a few “I love you Paul’s and please phone…..” We went to the stadium and took our lowly seats far away from the stage.
The opening acts began (I remember Jackie de Shannon and the Righteous Brothers but cannot remember any other groups) and my sister and I slowly moved closer as seats and viewing opportunities arose. We finally found a side view vista around the 20 yard line but still high in the bleachers. It was the best we could get.
But we saw it all. We saw the car arrive and local Disc Jockey Red Robinson introduced the Fab Four. The Beatles performed an 11-song set: Twist And Shout, You Can’t Do That, All My Loving, She Loves You, Things We Said Today, Roll Over Beethoven, Can’t Buy Me Love, If I Fell, Boys, A Hard Day’s Night and Long Tall Sally.
They quickly unbuckled their guitar straps and were ushered away in an awaiting limousine. They never did return to the Georgia Hotel and ultimately Paul never did read my awaiting note surrendering my 12 year old soul. I promised in that letter to love him FOREVER and that 12 year old girl kept her promise.
My life went on – and the sixties played themselves out in a surrealistic – some would say a psychedelic – fashion. I finished high school, moved to London England, returned to Canada with my boyfriend in tow. Canada Immigration changed some rules and insisted I marry Gerry within a week of his arrival in Canada. I did.
We had fun and moved throughout BC. And then we didn’t have fun. We divorced and I returned to Vancouver to attend College. I had a string of boyfriends including musician Alan Treen who said we should pack up our car and head south to Seattle to see Paul McCartney’s new group, Wings. He wasn’t that pleased that Paul’s photographer wife Linda was now a musician. “Whose the Dog with Wings” he would say.
June 10, 1976 we drove the 150 mile route down to the US. The venue was the Seattle Kingdome a new covered stadium and Wings were the first band to play there. Over 67,000 people purchased tickets. Alan and I were very hyped and looking forward to the show but when we entered the stadium the police actions; searching people, frisking them, throwing a few guys into a wall was way overboard. More brownies please. It affronted our Canadian sensibilities.
The show was much longer than the 27 minutes of music in Vancouver. Songs they sang:
Venus and Mars, Rock Show, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed, Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long and Winding Road, Live and Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me), Richard Cory, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen a Face,
Blackbird, Yesterday, You Gave Me the Answer, Magneto and Titanium Man, Go Now, My Love, Listen to What the Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Time to Hide, Silly Love Songs, Letting Go, Band on the Run, Hi, Hi, Hi, Soily
Wow the light show was amazing. More brownies please. It was a fine concert but it wasn’t the Beatles and it wasn’t a great atmosphere. Love peace happiness and bully sticks.
We have kids. Bill and I have a his, mine and ours mixture that has always traveled together and usually by car. It seems we have always belted out Beatles songs as we have zoomed through lonely deserts or high mountain ranges. I think if you asked any of our brood you would be able to get at least a dozen Beatles songs out of them. It is tattooed, branded into their blood much like DNA.
It is a family memory now. Embedded. They will pass that glee, that fierce joy onto their children.
May 10 2012
Bill and I drive to Mexico City to see Paul McCartney Live in the Capital’s main square called the Zocalo. It is the largest plaza in all of Mexico and Latin America, and flanked by a major cathedral, National Palace, Palace of the Governor and many a slew of businesses/hotels/restaurants. An ancient Pyramid site continues to be excavated and explored in one of it’s corners. The most impressive mural in all of Mexico, The History of Mexico by Diego Riviera is painted and displayed inside the National Palace. It is inarguably the center, the heart of culture in Mexico.
Mexico has had a Hate /Love with the Beatles. Mostly love.
Beatlemania hit Mexico in 1964. In 1965 the Beatles were scheduled to play in Mexico City. Brian Epstein had planned the concert at the Palacio de los Deportes Stadium or Sports City, but Ernesto P. Uruchurtu, Head of the Federal District, would not grant permission, saying that the Fab Four were as a threat to youth. The show date was then given to San Diego.
The Beatles “Bésame Mucho” by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez was especially appreciated in this country. Later on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover you will notice the Mexican ceramic Handicraft “tree of life.”
You will notice that there is still a lot of Beatles merchandise available in Mexico especially T-shirts and posters. Several radio programs are STILL devoted to the Beatles. Radio station Universal Stereo 92.1 blasts Beatles songs between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for people driving to work every morning.
Bill and I exited the subway an hour and a half before the concert began. The closest underground station was closed to allow the police to control the number of people in the square. When we emerged from the belly of the city to the street above, vendors were everywhere selling T-shirts, hats, coffee cups and more with Beatles and Paul McCartney pictures and logos. LOL I wondered whether they were authorized merchandise.
We walked briskly towards the Zocalo, as did thousands of other fans. Young and Old. Toddlers and teenagers. The street was closed to car traffic and two blocks from the Zocolo a large screen TV was set up and then another a block away. Fifty or so porta-potties flanked one our street just before the square.
Mexico police were everywhere many with plexi-glass riot shields. There was a single file lineup to enter the area as they scrutinized each one of us. No frisking, just a little intimidation to let us know who was boss.
The video screens were long horizontal strips Perhaps 5 by 20 meters that rolled video in a vertical up to down fashion. Pictures and various video clips played and entertained for over an hour as the crowd snuggled in for the concert.
It is election year here in Mexico and when one candidate’s banner was unrolled from a building, the crowd booed and the banner was rolled back up. This was not a time to be talking politics.
All balconies surrounding the Zocolo were filled with mucky mucks, those with relatives, connections a lot of dinero or a little mordida. Bill and I didn’t care so much as the point was to be here and experience the history.
Finally Sir Paul came onstage and began the musical set Hello Hello. For 3 hours we stood mesmerized as the 70 year old rocker sang, entertained and flirted with the audience. He dedicated songs to John, George, his wife Linda who died of Breast cancer and to his new wife Nancy.
He tried but his Spanish was horrible. Embarrassing. He called Mothers Day a special day for Momisitas – slang for Mexican hot chicks. But the Mexicans loved it and responded with loud and boisterous approval. Conversely, when the audience sang, and they sang loud, confidently and frequently; there was little accent. It was an opportunity to experience our youth and remember the 12 year old in all of us that could believe in a better future, where passion was innocent and where love was a simple song and a deep belief in peace and goodwill.
Oh yes the crowd was very friendly and strangers talked freely to each other, taking pictures of the event as if it were, and it was, a life experience. “I was in the Zocalo when McCartney played” they would say. He played for me and 200,000 of my closest friends.
Paul McCartney played to over 200,000 Mexico City Fans Thursday night. Bill Bell Photograph