Tag Archives: beatles

The Last CKY Hit Parade


Reid Dickie

Every week for at least five and a half years, CKY Radio, Canada’s Friendly Giant, published a hit parade that listed the Top 50 pop songs and Top 20 western songs in Winnipeg. The 50,000 watt station devoted a few hours a day to, what was then called, western music, country music’s uncle. The CKY hit parade was a colourful single fold sheet distributed free at record stores in Winnipeg and round the province to a degree.

The weekly chart was distilled using a formula that combined local record sales and listener requests and resulting in the hit parade. Post-1963 issues featured pictures of the disc jockeys.

The last CKY Hit Parade was published on February 27, 1966. The Beatles are #1.



I’m not sure when CKY started publishing a hit parade. The earliest one I have is for the week of September 9, 1961.


Listen to CKY go off the air forever on January 21, 2004.

If you liked this stuff, check out some of my other nostalgic Winnipeg memories like Eaton’s Beatle Bar, Inside the Mind of a 15 Year Old Beatlemaniac, CKY wants a town named after it, my radio career, the Beatles come to Winnipeg, even some fake nostalgia.

I have pages about Winnipeg’s grand old schools, some heritage houses, churches and Manitoba heritage from around the province.

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Filed under 1960s, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

Four Docs

Reid Dickie

I’ve been pillaging the Winnipeg library system’s terrific collection of DVDs for recent documentaries and have four to recommend to you. I’m sure you can find some or all of these on the internet.

Gasland by Josh Fox Wanna see a guy light his tap water on fire? Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a dangerous and earth-killing technique that oil and gas companies all over North America use to release natural gas from shale deposits deep underground. A combination of water, sand and over 900 chemicals under enormous pressure is pumped into the shale, fracturing the rock. Trouble is, without any oversight, the drillers pollute the groundwater of area residents with natural gas and chemicals causing dire consequences. On the Canadian prairies, fracking is used extensively in southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan. It would be interesting to look at the groundwater purity in places like Waskada and Melita, MB and Stoughton, Carlyle and Weyburn, SK today and see what happens to it over the next year or two. Click the pic to watch a preview of Gasland.

Buck by Cindy Meehl Buck Brannaman is an American “horse whisperer” of sorts. Raised by a violently abusive father, Buck bucked the typical imitative lifestyle of the beaten-young and lived the opposite life, one of compassion, love and understanding for people and animals, especially horses. We follow Buck as he travels to various four-day horse-training workshops and we encounter the people and horses he meets and tames using his gentle technique which he teaches to the horse owners. We get to listen to Buck’s country philosophy delivered with humour and true wisdom. As Buck says, “Often, instead of helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” I was honoured and humbled to spend ninety minutes in the presence of someone as highly evolved as Buck Brannaman and you will be too when you watch it. Click pic to see preview.

Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy When Linda and me first got together in 1977 we made all sorts of art including street art. Our outdoor work included putting fancy decorated bras on the “breasts” of fire hydrants, postering neighbourhood telephone poles with paper collages and so on. (You can find out much more about our early art efforts on my DTC Art page.) The spirit of street art has grown since then to the degree that one of the genre’s most shadowy figures, British graffiti artist Banksy, has made an Academy Award nominated documentary on the topic. Banksy tries to give us some direction here but this film twists and turns until you’re not sure who or what it is about. Fascinating glimpses into the lives of Shepard Fairey (OBEY) and Thierry Guetta whose role changes as the film progresses. Overall a statement on art beyond post-modernism demonstrating that the distance between graffiti on a brick wall in an alley and on the wall of a cocktail-muzak art gallery is very short. There is some indication the whole movie was a hoax, a prank by Banksy. Decide for yourself. Click pic for a preview.

Catfish by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost After a discussion on the veracity of the internet, my friend Kenn recommended Catfish to me. Thanks Kenn! Here we find a nice Jewish photographer who starts to buy art ostensibly painted by a little girl over the internet. Soon he meets her older sister, again over the internet. They talk on the phone, exchange pictures, check each other out on Facebook and he starts to fall in love with her. He desperately needs something to believe in but gradually things about her don’t add up so he and his filmmaker friends decide to visit her in Michigan. That’s as far as the trailer takes you and I’m leaving you there too. You’re on your own for the rest of this fast-paced eye-opener. I didn’t have much sympathy for the gullible photographer who seemed incapable of any kind of critical thinking, dumbed down and fully in the sway of Born-Yesterday Syndrome but I was richly entertained by the film. The upshot: Believe nothing you read on the internet, including my reviews, unless you can personally verify it, which in my case you can by seeing the films. Click the pic for trailer.

Four non-docs I recommend: Red State is a departure for that Kevin Smith and the antidote to Clerks. Tyrannosaur is a powerful British film completely peopled with despicables. The first season of British crime drama Luther features the incredible Idris Elba in the scary title role. Pirate Radio is a nostalgic romp that includes one of the best Beatles homage moments ever.

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Filed under Art Actions, Diversions, Film, Linda, Love

Happy Deathday John Lennon

“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” John Lennon was assassinated on this day in 1980 by Dakota “doorman” Jose Perdomo, longtime CIA hitman and mind control agent. I miss John but we still have his music and his thoughts to challenge and comfort us. “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” “Everybody loves you when you’re six feet in the ground.” “I’m not claiming divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can. But I still believe in peace, love and understanding.” “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” “My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.” “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” “We all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.” Watch a video of Mind Games. What’s with happy deathday?


Filed under Momentous Day, Music

Happy Deathday George Harrison

“I’d join a band with John Lennon anyday, but I wouldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney.” Good choice, George. On this day in 2001 Beatle George died of lung cancer. He was 58. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges River. George left a few thoughts behind for us today.  “After all we did for Britain, selling that corduroy and making it swing, all we got was a bit of tin on a piece of leather.” “It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”  “As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead.” “As long as you hate, there will be people to hate.” “The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them.” “When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” “You’ve got as many lives as you like, and more, even ones you don’t want.” What’s with happy deathday?

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Toronto Rock & Roll Revival -September 13, 1969

Reid Dickie

A few days after my return to Toronto for my second year of Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now University), the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival occurred in Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto. The open air stadium held about 20,000, the music started at noon, it was a warm sunny day and the line-up commingled an eclectic range of music. In order of appearance the revival offered Flapping, Whisky Howl, Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys, Chicago Transit Authority, Screaming Lord Sutch, Tony Joe White, Doug Kershaw, Alice Cooper, Junior Walker & the All-Stars, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band and the Doors.

Tickets hadn’t sold very well until the day of the festival when it was announced that John Lennon would be appearing with a pick-up band. The stadium filled up quickly and updates came every half an hour about the plane carrying Lennon and band. Chicago and Alice Cooper were just starting their careers and all I remember about Alice was something to do with live chickens. I never cared much for Chicago’s music but the rest of the line-up brought musical depth to the day.  The four old boys – Gene, Jerry Lee, Little Richard and Chuck – were full-out rocking with Little Richard stripping down to a pair of wild shorts while assaulting the piano.

One whole section of the bleachers was reserved for bikers because they served an important duty that day. Both Lennon and his band and the Doors were formally escorted into downtown Toronto from the airport by a phalanx of bikers thus earning them their own section in the stands.

Lennon’s pick-up band for the gig was top-notch with Eric Clapton on guitar, Klaus Voorman (who designed the Revolver cover) on bass, Alan White (who’d sat in for ailing Ringo during the Beatles’ Australian tour) on drums with Lennon and Ono on vocals. The resulting set became the album Live Peace in Toronto 1969, not Lennon’s best music but certainly some of his rawest.

This picture by Emil was taken at the festival. The white thing on stage next to Lennon is idiot Ono screeching in a bag, making John look as ridiculous as possible, which was her task from the beginning. D. A. Pennebaker shot a film of the event called Sweet Toronto.

When I started at Ryerson I did concert reviews for the alternative weekly newspaper The Eyeopener. I was usually joined by Emil who was taking photography at Ryerson. Emil and I had never met anyone quite like each other before and we hit it off right away. We were opposites who attracted. He’d never met a hippie country boy with a rural prairie upbringing and I’d never met a sophisticated Greek photographer who came from an enormously wealthy family and always wore crisp white shirts, black slacks, smoked Gitanes and had a cowlick curl that fell over his forehead. Though not one of his best shots, Emil’s grainy picture of John Lennon matches the music of the day.

Lennon ended the set with Give Peace a Chance which the entire audience continued to sing for about 20 minutes after the band had left the stage. It was a beautiful eerie moment filled with possibility and promise. The Doors ended the day coming on stage about 2 a.m. and offered a violent and self-destructive show with Jim Morrison, then overweight with full beard, leaping into the air and coming down on his knees making great cracking sounds. This interview from around the time shows Morrison’s state and gives a bit of background on his interest in shamanism.


Filed under 1960s, Music

The First Time I Heard “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles

Reid Dickie

            It was a Friday, August 5, the day after my 17th birthday, 1966. My after-school and summer job at the Shoal Lake Locker Plant mostly consisted of stocking shelves and sweeping up. Once I turned 16, my other duty was delivering groceries around the little town to people who’d called in or were too elderly to carry them. The store had a Chev they’d knocked all but the driver’s seat out of, making room for the deliveries. I piled in the bags of groceries with the family names written on them. I was expected to know where everyone lived and I did. It was a small town.

            I enjoyed getting out of the store, driving around my familiar little town listening to the radio. CKY, Canada’s Friendly Giant, 50,000 clear channel watts out of Winnipeg, had been shouting all day about having an exclusive on the new Beatles single and would play it at precisely 4:55. The DJ kept telling us we wouldn’t believe our ears. They wouldn’t even tell us the name of the song. I was a zealous fan. The Beatles defined and informed a large part of my youth. I was excited.

            Setting the stage musically for Eleanor Rigby‘s arrival, the previous five singles The Beatles released were Paperback Writer/Rain, June 1966, Nowhere Man, March 1966, We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper, December 1965, Yesterday, September 1965, Help, August 1965 – solid rock tunes but for Yesterday, with plenty of chiming guitars and backbeat, each a musical advance showing growth. The Beatles loved to surprise us but I was completely unprepared for what was coming next.

            The day was hot and I was sweaty in the old car but the breeze felt cool and in a few minutes there would be a brand new Beatles song in the world. Life was good!

        Just as I was pulling into Richcoon’s driveway, as relentlessly promised all day, CKY announced they would play the new Beatles 45. I sat in the Chev, fully baited. Eleanor Rigby played. The announcer said he was going to play it again and did. The voices were right but not a guitar or drum within earshot, instead a string octet supporting a wailing tale of desolation and woe. Nothing like this had ever happened before! My little Shoal Lake Locker Plant delivery boy’s mind was blown right there in Richcoon’s driveway. I carried, rather floated the groceries to their door, got back behind the wheel of the Chev and just sat there, confused, queasy, thinking, “Is this the end of the world?”

            It wasn’t.

Eleanor Rigby was one of the first story-songs The Beatles, usually Paul, wrote. Norwegian Wood on Rubber Soul hinted at the future but their little movies continued with When I’m 64, Penny Lane, Bungalow Bill and so on. There is a tombstone in a cemetery in Liverpool, England with the name Eleanor Rigby on it. Whether McCartney knew that and used the name intentionally isn’t known. He claims the first name he tried in the song was Miss Daisy Hawkins but eventually named it Eleanor after actress Eleanor Bron who starred in The Beatles movie, Help.

            Revolver, the album Eleanor Rigby came from, was released the following Monday, August 8 and provided a radical setting for The Beatles new eloquence and their increasingly precise pop sensibility. An instant classic, Revolver is at the top of many people’s all-time favourite album lists, including mine. Timeless yet surprising pop songs, quantum leaps in story-telling and sonic adventures combine to make Revolver a stunning achievement in pop culture.

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The Beatles in Winnipeg 1964

The Beatles never performed in Winnipeg but they did spend 35 minutes – about the length of their concerts at the time – on the tarmac at Winnipeg International Airport. It was Tuesday, August 18, 1964. Their plane needed refueling on its way from London to San Francisco where The Beatles started their 1964 North American tour the next evening. They played 25 cities in 31 days, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal their only Canadian dates.

Linda talked about hearing The Beatles were coming on the radio, called some friends to try to arrange a ride but, alas, the Fabs were long gone before she got to the airport.

The Beatles Winnipeg stopover gave a young guitarist named Bruce Decker the chance of a lifetime. Fit and fast, Decker took off across the runway, ran up the stairs and almost into the plane before being nabbed by security. This is the story in pictures, taken by Free Press staff photographer Dave Bonner, of Bruce Decker’s dash to fame as the young man tried to board the Beatles’ plane for a look at his idols.

Here`s how the Winnipeg Free Press reported Decker`s Dash:

Although he didn’t realize it at the time, his adventurous attempt was to earn him not only chuckles from the Beatles but also rapturous admiration from several Beatle fans.

“The whole thing was fantastic,” the 17-year-old Silver Heights School Grade 12 student said in an interview afterward.

“A group of us heard about the Beatles arriving while we were in a car preparing to drive to the beach. This was about 1:45 p.m. We decided to head for the airport and by the time we got there, the Beatles had already gone into the plane. In any event, we couldn’t see anything from the observation platform, so we sneaked down to the ramp and mixed with all the people down there. There was a group of girls standing near me and they were saying how they’d like to storm the stairs of the plane. Suddenly I decided I’d try to make it. I thought if I got a foot in the door, I’d be able to see them and that they’d speak to me.”

He said he looked up and saw the door open with no one standing on the steps. He decided to risk it and dashed off like a young gazelle across the 25 yards of apron to the stairs. Just before Bruce darted off photographer Bonner, for some uncanny reason, decided to take a shot of the group of young people standing on the apron. As Bruce started his run, Dave just followed through, clicking off his camera for this quick-action series. As Bruce bounded up the steps, Pan American’s local airport manager came out the door and grabbed the youth. Within seconds, three Royal Canadian Mounted Police men had dashed up the stairs, too, and put the long hand on the youth. He was carried across the apron amid rousing shouts of encouragement from the mob of teen-agers at the airport. Then he was taken to the RCMP office in the terminal and cautioned.

“Just as they were wrestling with me, I caught a glimpse of the Beatles through the door and they were all chuckling,” said Bruce. “I just did it for a bit of fun and didn’t realize there was anything serious attached to it. But, although I’m a Beatle fan, I was amazed at what happened afterward. For a joke, my friends started to collect ‘bail’ money for me and raised 29 cents so quickly they thought they’d better quit. Then, after the police had let me go, a girl recognized me and begged me to let her take my photo. Then another two girls saw me and pushed me into a corner. Tears were streaming down their faces as they asked me: ‘What do they look like? Did they say anything? How does Ringo look?’ ”

Bruce says he moved away from there and went into the coffee shop for a cup of coffee. “Another girl saw me and said, ‘That’s the boy who dashed for the plane.’ Then she put $1 down on the counter and told the waitress to give me anything I wanted to drink. I was completely stunned by all this,” said Bruce. “I mean, I like the Beatles but this is too much. The girls thought there was some kind of magic about me just because I’d got so close to the singers. Oh, well, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, but I just hope I didn’t cause the police too much trouble.”

       Bruce played with Burton Cummings in the Deverons and, for a short stint in 1966 after Chad Allen left, rhythm guitar with the Guess Who. In this Guess Who picture, Bruce is on the right. He also played in the Electric Jug and Blues Band. Bruce died in 1986. Watch The Beatles perform the next day in San Francisco.


Filed under Music, Winnipeg

Mid-Century Winnipeg – Eaton’s Beatle Bar

Ad for Eaton’s Beatle Bar, Winnipeg Free Press 1964

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Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Reid Dickie


Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

         The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.


And Your Bird Can Sing

The Beatles

            This time Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is my favourite all-time Beatles song, which comes from my all-time favourite Beatles album. Not one of their better-known tunes, And Your Bird Can Sing appeared on the 1966 album, Revolver, the UK edition. Click on the cover and give it a listen.

             The Beatles and the development of most of their songs have been well-documented and fully-exploited, giving us audial delights and candid peeks into their creative process. And Your Bird Can Sing evolved noticeably from the rough idea Lennon brought to the studio. In this age of instant retrieval, I found two earlier versions of the song. Working backwards, the version before the final has a distinct Byrds feel to it, appropriate to the tune’s content. The chiming guitars and sweet harmonies suggest Lennon’s fascination with the Byrds and his wonderful ability to mimic other musicians. The second and third verses are switched for the album version. By the time the final version appears, it has evolved from being a song influenced by the Byrds to being very much a Beatles song. Hear the middle version by clicking on the Lennons.

         Previous to that, we have an earlier, almost demo version very much at the kibitzing stage of development – stoned young Beatles having fun in the studio. Bass, tambourine, lyrics in progress, laughter and whistling at the end are all being developed but George’s guitar riff in the break and at the end is nearly complete. Later the riff  becomes the solid fuming basis used throughout the final cut. Click on the Remco Beatles dolls to give this earliest version a listen.

         What makes And Your Bird Can Sing sound so great to my ears?

            Let’s start with its context. The British version of Revolver is as the Beatles planned it with three songs the North American version lacked, one of them And Your Bird Can Sing. In addition to being my fave Beatles album, Revolver is also my Number One favourite album of all-time. A pristine moment in pop history, something utterly ephemeral passed through these four men and the surrounding crew and environment resulting in this Divine creation. The distance in sophistication and creative ease between Revolver and Beatlemania, recorded just 30 months earlier, is a quantum leap. Tracing Revolver’s musical evolution: Ticket To Ride, Rubber Soul, We Can Work It Out, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, Rain.

            This is how I interpret the whole album. After they get the taxes and death songs (Taxman and Eleanor Rigby) out of the way, the dream that is Revolver begins in earnest with I’m Only Sleeping. Every subsequent track takes us deeper and deeper that by track nine, And Your Bird Can Sing, we are lucid dreaming along with the lads. Here the dream takes flight.

            A perfect Lennon tune, oblique, lively and cutting, everyone comes through here. The searing break from the earliest version becomes the foundation for the whole song. Raw, harsh and rousing, George’s riff sounds like it’s been playing for five minutes before the song starts, creating immediate tension. The urgency of the riff reinforces and maintains the tension and the vitriolic tone of Lennon’s lyrics, a putdown of a woman who owns everything except Lennon. In British slang, a bird meant a girl, putting another spin on the lyric.

            McCartney comes through with yet another inventive bass line; his subdominant chord at the end releases the song’s tautness in a flutter. Muted (he sounds like he’s playing a cardboard box) but solid, Ringo’s masterful backbeat is complemented by his trippy high-hat work.

            The four guitar waves and McCartney’s exuberant harmony that accompany the line “You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is” at 1:20 in the final version represent, to these humble ears, the three most stunning, thrilling and expansive seconds of pop music ever created, a fleeting gem of magic in a strikingly unusual setting, an astonishing musical moment in a career loaded with astonishing moments. The guitars in those subtly diminishing waves quintessentially define for me Chuck Berry’s description of Johnny B. Goode, “He could play guitar just like ringing a bell.”

            Though Rubber Soul has its moments, Revolver is the Beatles’ first cohesive challenge to fans, to other musicians, to the world. It directs us to look inside, to seek our true nature, to experiment with our consciousness, not in the blatant druggy Sgt Pepper fashion like a year later, but in a subtle, kind and innocent way that suggests creative play and a love for the world and all its problems. It made the world’s teenagers think about death and transcendence! For those reasons this music matured as I did, growing along with me, guiding me in some way, its message becoming clearer as I changed, yet changing with me. At the same time, Revolver has always been a comfortable reliable place to return to, to retreat from the world and dream along. I’m very grateful to have this album to accompany me through my life. It truly has dyed me. Thanks Fabs!

The Final Tally for And Your Bird Can Sing

            On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart


Crème tangerine

Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 1

Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 2%

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Happy Birthday George Harrison

Though Lennon often gets the credit as brightest Beatle, George had the real wisdom. The Spiritual Beatle devoted large portions of his life and fortune to inner pursuits and, going by the clarity in his eyes as he aged, he found Spirit, touched the Source. Let’s get into George’s head with a few of his thoughts: “As long as you hate, there will be people to hate.” “Gossip is the Devil’s radio.” “The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them.” “The Beatles saved the world from boredom.” “The world used us as an excuse to go mad.” and “The Beatles will exist without us.” George was born on this day in 1943.  Frank Sinatra said, “Something is the greatest love song ever written.” George wrote Something. Hear Frank sing it. Not Dead/Dead since November 29, 2001.

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