Your testimonies

Fans during the evening show at the Montréal Forum, september 8, 1964. (Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Fonds Jean-Louis Frund)

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Les cymbales de Ringo

Moi, je me rappelle que les cymbales de Ringo étaient plus verticales qu’horizontales. J’ai fait remarquer ça à un de mes amis et il m’a dit en blague : «peut-être pour se proteger du froid» (j’ai découvert plus tard qu’il a reçu des menaces de mort) et moi, j’ai admiré le show. J’étais devant eux et même que John m’a fait un salut de la tête en me regardant dans les yeux. Ma blonde s’était évanouie à force de crier.


By September, we all knew who the Beatles were, but I still had my greased Elvis hair and a bad Colombo raincoat with thick-framed glasses. September 8th, 1965, was my 15th birthday. I looked like a nerd. I was a nerd. I remember sitting on the ice in front of the stage in about the 13th row. The Forum was packed. There were at least 2 groups and Jackie deShannon before the Beatles came on. Everytime the curtains moved, the crowds broke out into screaming fits. Eventually the Beatles came on and the screaming was so intense, so total, that it became like white noise, and then total silence. I was totally deaf. I could only slightly hear the music through the floorboards if I put my elbows on my knees and rested the palms of my hands on my ears. The show only lasted about 35 minutes or so and of course they played everything faster than normal. I really don’t remember the playlist or much else about the show. It was just so completely overwhelming. I was in shock for days. I will always remember the day I turned 15, I saw the Beatles.


I was there at the afternoon show… front row seat. There was a baracade built in front of the stage—about 3-4 feet high. I remember the reporters and cameramen at the front, crouching down along this baracade, taking pictures of the crowd and trying to get us to stand and scream before the show started so that they could have their “shot” for the newspapers. The show was everything I could imagine. I remember one of the opening acts was Del Shannon (I think). I have that day etched in my memory and I did have pictures taken with my Brownie Star Flash camera but I can’t seem to find them. My picture was on the front page of one of the French daily papers in Montréal, but I can’t remember which one.


I had just turned 13 the previous month, in August of 1964 and I had won a pair of Beatles concert tickets in a weekly draw sponsored by The Montreal Star, who also published the names of the winners. You can imagine my excitement at seeing my name printed in The Star, let alone having two Beatles tickets in my possession. Despite protests from my (then) 9 year old sister that I take her (yea right), I took my close childhood friend Ed with me, and we were driven to the Forum by my father, who (I discovered years later) had waited downtown for us the entire time. I often wish that I had had the foresight to have saved my ticket stub from the concert but I do still have a momento in my possession, carefully preserved. After the concert outside the Forum on either Atwater or Ste. Catherine, white cardboard two-sided folders containing two glossy black and white “autographed” photos of the Beatles were being sold. As I recall, they were the grand sum of $1.00 for the pair in the folder. Though the won tickets weren’t front row, as you can imagine, I was there and then as now 44 years later…. that’s all that matters. It was one of the finest, most exciting experiences of my life and those four young men (at the time) helped form my youth and to a great degree in retrospect and my life in many ways. I was the perfect age to appreciate them for all that they were and for all that they gave and continue to give us. I have my memories now, as do we all.


Je me rappelle de Paul qui s’est placé à genoux directement devant John qui chantait If I Fell. Je me rappelle aussi de George, qui après son solo sur Roll Over Beethoven, s’est rué vers son micro pour chanter : il avait oublié de s’avancer! Ringo, quant à lui, a passé tout le concert penché sur sa batterie. Ça m’avait frappé à l’époque mais aujourd’hui, je sais pourquoi !

NDLR : Ringo avait reçu des menaces de mort.


I have pictures of the Beatles arriving at Dorval International Airport in 1964. They have not gotten off the airplane yet they were still getting off and they were still on the stairs waving and looking my way. This was a really exciting time for me and my friends. The girl that got us right up to the plane was lucky that her dad was a ramp attendant for Air Canada and got us right up there to the stairs. Very exciting for two 14 year olds.


Dressed in a blouse that was embroidered with Beatlemania stuff – the boys’ names, guitars, hearts, etc. etc. etc. Was 12 years old; first concert and went on to many more…still going to rock concerts. Saw the Stones in 1965 at the Paul Sauvé Arena in Montréal.
Now THAT was a concert!


Salut, moi aussi j’y étais pour le spectacle de l’après-midi. Je me souviens d’avoir manqué l’école pour acheter mon billet. Je ne savais pas à quoi m’attendre, c’était mon premier spectacle LIVE. Mais j’étais déjà envouté par leur musique. Quand les Beatles sont arrivés c’était l’hystérie totale, comme une immense vague de cries aigus. Tout s’est passé très vite mais de les voir là, sur la scène, habillés pareil avec leur teints blancs et leurs cheveux noirs peignés par en avant fût un moment magique. La chance a fait que j’ai pu les revoir l’année d’après à Toronto. Mais ça c’est une autre histoire. PEACE AND LOVE


Too young (9) to remember much. My mother was trying to stuff cotton batting in our ears. I do remember not hearing a bloody thing for the screaming once the first note was played. Ringo was completely obsured by the cymbal in front of him. Policeman were escorting youngs girls in strethers as the fainted.


I was visiting with my cousins in Montréal at the time. I lived in New York. One of my cousins actually won tickets on the radio to see the Beatles at the Forum. She didn’t want to go so she gave me her ticket and I went with her sister. I remember the crowd being huge (especially from an 11 yrs old prespective). Our seats weren’t the best but I can remember well seeing them and especially them singing “If I fell” which was a favorite of mine. When we went home we tried to catch the news about the show and get to see them one more time. We did and my cousin (13 yrs old) was hysterical crying because now she was in love with Paul and already missed him. Till this day I wonder about the regret my cousin must feel that she gave up tickets to see the Beatles, one of the hugest groups ever.


Non seulement j’y étais pour le concert de la soirée (il y avait une matinée également), j’y étais également pour le SOUND CHECK sur l’heure du lunch… impressionnant de les voir au loin du fond de l’aréna et de tester les micros, les instruments etc… Faut dire que ma mère travaillait au Forum comme téléphoniste; ça fait que… j’avais de bons billets près de la scène sur le côté gauche. Je me souviens de la première chanson interprétée : Twist and Shout. Et les fans se mirent a crier, hurler, pleurer etc.. quel beau happening.

À 60 ans aujourd’hui, je pense aux années 1960 – 70 où tout était possible… une belle liberté ! et beaucoup grâce à la musique des Beatles. Je la souhaite cette liberté aux jeunes d’aujourd’hui.

LOVE and PEACE comme on disait !!!!!!!!!!!!!

anonymous (Montréal)

I was 31/2 when I saw the show with my Mother and my sister and for me, to be there to see the Beatles was like going to Disneyland!

from Karen (Ottawa)

I was lucky enough to be at the 4pm show with my father & sister. I was young (7) but remember it vividly. It was a very long wait through the opening acts, but well worth it! I couldn’t understand at that young age why all the girls were screaming so much and remember being quite annoyed because they made it difficult to hear, and I had to stand on my seat to see better! I’m forever thankful that I have this precious memory of time spent with my dad, who I lost a few years later to cancer. Beatles music has been my link to him for 40+ years now.


Yeah Yeah Yeah j’y étais.

Ce que je retiens le plus de cette merveilleuse journée est le trajet en bus de Ville St-Laurent jusqu’au Forum. Plus on approchait du lieu magique, plus les passagers rajeunissaient. L’exhubérance était à son comble avant même le spectacle de 16h pour lequel j’avais un précieux billet (que j’ai évidemment conservé).

L’atmosphère était d’une joie que j’ai depuis lors, malheureusement peu connue. Quant au spectacle lui-même… beaucoup de cris et hurlements mais nous y étions. La révolution des moeurs pouvait débuter à bord de ce Magic Bus qui nous a fait transformer notre société pour le meilleur et pour le pire.

from Robert (Montréal)

“Loud” doesn’t half describe it! “Deafening” more like. My most enduring memory of the experience is of a girl about 2 or 3 seats away from me, who was so totally in the throes of hysteria: she screamed, jumped, waved, cried, (I won’t swear she didn’t soil her pants, but I was too young then to have suspected such a thing!) – she was completely oblivious of anything but her immediate feelings. She wasn’t alone, there were hundreds, thousands like her in the crowd, but her proximity to me made this very real, very vivid. I don’t know who she was, but the memory of that unknown girl is still my personal embodiment of what Beatlemania was. You can see her by the thousands in any old video of the time, of course. But to really understand it, you “had to be there” …

I can also actually remember the concert – I could hear some of the performance (that show didn’t sell out, so maybe it was a little quieter than the norm!), I can remember Twist & Shout and Money – I think! To be honest, I knew their early albums so well by then, I could hear the songs without stimulus, and could imagine them even if I couldn’t actually hear anything. (But I will still swear I could actually hear those immortal voices, through the din … and you won’t get me to admit otherwise after all these years!) I can remember the frustration of waiting through the “warm-up” bands (what a hell it must have been for them, to offer their musical souls to an audience that just wanted them to disappear and be replaced by the four gods!), and the excitement that drove it all away once our boys ran onto the stage. I learned later that Ringo had received a death threat, and tried to hide behind his drum kit, eager for the set to end. But that was not at all apparent to me then, I just relished every minute of this incomparable experience. I had never been in such an excited audience before, and cannot think of any that has ever equaled it since. More rewarding musical moments? – sure. But more vivid cultural experiences? Probably not. At that moment, these four guys from Liverpool were the essence of life itself. That feeling passed long ago, but its memory will remain with everyone who experienced it, I am sure.

Some background: at that time, I was about 13. Before serious girl friends, before really having become an autonomous person. I was certainly still a kid, even if one with pretensions of independence! I was a choirboy at the time, and went with a school friend who was also a choirboy in the same choir – we had a choir rehearsal that evening, which was why we went to the matinee concert. I can recall the odd juxtaposition (odder then than it would be now perhaps, since rock’n’roll was still a bit “counterculture” in 1964) of leaving the Beatles concert to go directly to a church choir rehearsal. Nothing would have stopped us going to the Beatles, so this didn’t seem so odd to us, but there was a slight air of unreality in making the change nonetheless.


Le souvenir : j’écoute la télé et l’émission de Janette Bertrand Comment ? Pourquoi ?. Elle interroge des jeunes qui vont assister au spectacle au forum. Bravo pour votre initiative…

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