The summer of 1970 (and my brush with John and Yoko)
This will take a while to get to the John and Yoko part, but it is an interesting set of events. It was the beginning of summer. I was 17 and had just finished grade 11 at Richmond High School, British Columbia, Canada. I had a friend who was an excellent drummer,whose name was Bruce Miller. He was going on a European tour with the Kitsilano Boys Band, and before he left, we talked about meeting up for a few days in London at the end of his tour. My father was an Air Canada employee and always encouraged me to actually use some of the passes he was entitled to, and so I told Bruce I would fly over on a certain date near the end of August and he said he would meet me at Heathrow Airport. And off he went to Europe. And I got a job working at Avis rent a car as a car jockey at the airport.
The end of summer came, and I headed to London. When you travel on a pass, there are a few drawbacks. You get get a seat as long as- a) there is an empty seat available, and b) you have seniority over anyone else with a pass wanting the same seat. To go to London on the premise that I would be met at the airport on a certain flight on a certain day, with no further communication over the summer was ….well…when you’re young, you do things like that.
Heathrow airport is what I would call… Large. Arrivals are shuffled into a huge open area to claim their baggage and meet their greeters. There was a sea of greeters, and they all seemed to be waving around signs with names on them. My name was definitely not in the mix. No Bruce. I boarded a bus that took me into the heart of London where I got off and asked some people for directions to the Canadian consulate. They would know where the boys band would be staying. I was wondering around, basically lost, when I turned a corner and literally bumped into Bruce as he was coming around the corner from the other direction. It was 1970 and there was a feeling in the air that “anything can happen”. He was trying to find his way to the airport and was basically lost too. For a city of ten million people, I was impressed with my first day in London.
We hung around for a few days and then it was time to return. There was a slight problem on my end though, as B.O.A.C. Airlines had gone on strike, and Air Canada was picking up all those excess passengers and filling up the planes. Which meant I was screwed and stranded at Heathrow. For almost three days. And nights.
And on the third day (actually it was night…about 4AM) I was laying on a bench in the airport, trying to sleep. There were some cleaners around and that was about it, except for John and Yoko walking towards me. John and Yoko??? WTF???
At first I thought I was hallucinating! but no! it was them all right! and they were going to walk right by me. I thought about springing to life and introducing myself, maybe asking for autographs, but they didn’t look too approachable. They seemed to be looking right through the walls of the building at their destination, and there wasn’t anything in between. Not me that’s for sure.
The Beatles stopped touring in 1966, frustrated with not even being able to hear themselves above the screams of Beatlemania.
Brian Epstein died in 1967 meaning that the Beatles became personally involved in financial and legal conflicts.
1967- The Beatles release an untitled album usually known as “the White Album” (probably my favourite)
Sept20/1969. Lennon informed McCartney and Klein of his decision to leave the Beatles.
Recording for the album “Let it Be” had started in 1969 but was postponed for a 1970 release. Recording for “Abbey Road” happened sporadically during the spring/summer of ’69 with the members often recording their own tracks separately. Friction.
1969 was Woodstock. Joni Mitchell watched it on the news from a nearby hotel room and penned the song that would become the anthem for a hopeful new generation.
Hippie vs Establishment, Liberal vs Conservative, Anti-war vs Militarist, Political assassinations. 1968 Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and then Nixon gets in…more chaos. More friction.
The Beatles breakup was a cumulative process throughout 1969. McCartney publicly announces the breakup in a press release in Nov, 1970.
Dec/1970. McCartney files lawsuit against other 3 Beatles.
Sometimes I really wish I would have asked John and Yoko for their autographs.