The Toronto Star had a fun story Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first concert at Maple Leaf Gardens. The two shows took place on Sept. 7, 1964 and, as you can see above, tickets were priced at $4.00 and $5.50, which, believe it or not, was considered a lot back when hamburgers could be bought for change.
In a nice nod to the past, the Star got their semi-retired culture critic William Littler to confess to his acidic review of the Fab Four back in `64.
Littler was a young reviewer for the Vancouver Sun at the time and his review of their Vancouver concert that August made the front page. Littler could not have been more dismissive. The Star article only had snippets but here is more of his take down of the Beatles:
“Seldom in Vancouver’s entertainment history have so many (20,261) paid so much ($5.25 top price) for so little (27 minutes)…” began his stinging attack. He continued:
As music critic I have had to subject my eardrums to more than a little of the cacophony which currently dominates the hit parade but, the stuff shouted by these Liverpudlian tonsorial horrors left me particularly unimpressed.
That is, what portion of it I could hear between choruses of deafening screams…aside from their hair-cuts (or lack of them) and Mersey-side accents, I perceived nothing that made them better or worse than any number of less ballyhooed groups, either as vocalists or instrumentalists. They sounded just as loud, just as monotonous, and just as unmusical.
Although he sounded like he was 80 then Littler was in fact just a few years older than The Beatles. He ended his rant with this prediction: “I do not know how it came, why it came and when it will go away. But go away the Beatle phenomenon will, and with it will go the Beatles. The day has yet to come. When it does, music lovers everywhere can rejoice–yeah, yeah, yeah.”
So much for the power of the press. Hey, we’ve all been off the mark in the past. Littler takes it all back here in this generous mia culpa.