The Beatles in Montréal
For immediate release
An exhibition that takes a look back at The Beatles’ two shows in Montréal on September 8, 1964, as a true musical revolution was brewing in Québec.
Montréal, March 29, 2013 – Pointe-à-Callière presents The Beatles in Montréal, an exhibition on the Montréal stopover of this legendary British group that revolutionized pop music around the world, and that also had a profound influence on musical trends that took root right here in Montréal and throughout Québec. On view from March 29, 2013 to March 30, 2014, and designed as an exhibition-experience, The Beatles in Montréal uses this musical event as a starting point for an examination of Montréal history and the emergence of “yéyé” music in 1960s Québec.
“The exhibition stems from a meeting with singer-songwriter Gilles Valiquette—also a collector—who was looking into the possibility of somehow marking the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ visit to Montréal. Pointe-à-Callière, building on this look at the British group’s only appearance at the Forum, has examined a decade marked by social change during which young people used music as a way of asserting themselves. In the wake of The Beatles’ appearance, local music emerged in a spectacular fashion, and Pointe-à-Callière—whose mission is to raise awareness and foster an appreciation of Montréal—is proud to showcase this part of our history. The legacy of The Beatles remains universal today, making the exhibition of interest to all audiences, and all age groups,” explains Pointe-à-Callière’s Executive Director, Francine Lelièvre.
September 8, 1964 at the Forum
Upon entering the exhibition room, visitors are immersed into the effervescent atmosphere of the era through recordings showing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—the four idols—in action on giant screens. The exhibition takes a look at the quartet’s only appearance in Montréal, a stopover lasting less than 12 hours. The Beatles performed just two shows at the Montréal Forum on St. Catherine Street on September 8, 1964, at 4 pm and 8:30 pm; tickets cost $4.50 and $5.50. But what memorable shows! Exhibition visitors can relive The Beatles’ Montréal performance through a soundtrack to the show, on loan from Gilles Valiquette. Never-before-seen photos, some of which are from the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec’s Fonds Antoine Desilets and Fonds Jean-Louis Frund, will literally transport visitors to the show.
Colourful first-hand accounts
The Beatles, from the moment they got off the plane at Dorval Airport on September 8, immediately set the tone for that memorable day. A news report shows journalist Pierre Nadeau interviewing young people as they waited for the doors to open at the venue. Visitors will hear first-hand accounts from personalities who attended the show, including Janette Bertrand’s colourful tale of how she passed herself off as a journalist in order to get into a press conference held that day. We also learn why The Beatles nervously left the city that very same night.
Beatlemania, through the eyes of collectors and the general public
In all, some 360 objects are on display in the exhibition, including personal items, objects signed by The Beatles, records, instruments, Beatlemania-related items, film excerpts, archival photos, and pages from newspapers showing the madness and euphoria brought on by the group’s appearance, both here and elsewhere. In addition to Gilles Valiquette, several other collectors, including Richard Lapointe, Pierre Marchand, Luc Bouthillier, and Jean-Louis Vaillancourt also generously loaned objects to the Museum. Thanks to the many fans and collectors among the general public who answered the call, the Museum has also been able to set up a space specially dedicated to their precious items, presenting them in a very entertaining way, and showing that back in the era, it was possible to eat with The Beatles, sleep with The Beatles, decorate Beatles-style, and have fun by dressing like The Beatles.
John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce, with its flowery paint job, is sure to attract attention as it plays a prominent role in the exhibition (see the information sheet). The Rolls-Royce was able to make the trip to Montréal to be the highlight of the exhibition through a successful partnership between Pointe-à-Callière and the Royal BC Museum, owner of the spectacular car since 1993.
Baby Boomers and their successors
The exhibition also shows how, at the time The Beatles visited Montréal, both Québec and the city, through great reforms, were taking giant steps to catch up with the modern world—with music following in the wake. Period record players, transistor radios, princess telephones, television sets and teenagers’ clothing are presented alongside one another in the exhibition. It is an opportunity to relive the effervescent music scene in 1960s Montréal and Québec with the emergence of groups like Les Baronets, Les Classels, Les Hou-Lops, and Les Sultans— groups that are synonymous with the “yéyé” era, which still resonates today among the young and the not-so-young.
Be the 5th Beatle
As they make their way through the exhibition, visitors will also have a chance to be the 5th Beatle, sharing the stage with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, singing karaoke to certain songs performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. They can choose to sing such songs as All My Loving, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, and Twist and Shout, to name but a few.
To complement the exhibition, Pointe-à-Callière will be organizing a number of activities showcasing the music of the era. As part of Pointe-à-Callière's Cultural Feast on May 25 and 26, 60s music will be in the spotlight on the main stage in Place Royale. In the summertime, the area around the Museum will again be transformed into a pedestrian space, featuring several activities relating to the music of The Beatles and the 1960s to entertain passersby, area workers, and visitors. A series of talks on the beginnings of British rock and the British Invasion will also take place during the presentation of the exhibition, notably as part of the Université de Montréal’s Les Belles soirées series in the spring. In the fall, the Museum will offer a series of talks by singer-songwriter Gilles Valiquette and journalist Sylvain Cormier.
Souvenir LP Book
A souvenir book has been published to complement the exhibition, and to pay tribute to the 1960s, it has been designed in the style of a record sleeve. The book is illustrated with magnificent photos, some of which have never been seen before, from de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec’s Fonds Jean-Louis Frund. Short descriptions accompany the photos, as well as accounts from various music industry figures, such as Gilles Valiquette, Sylvain Cormier, Claude Rajotte, and François Pérusse. Some of these accounts will be presented over the course of the exhibition on the Museum’s website and social media pages. The souvenir book is available at the Museum Shop for $9.50 plus tax.
The Beatles in Montréal exhibition is produced by Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, and is presented by Rouge FM and MusiMax. Pointe-à-Callière thanks its partner, the Royal BC Museum, and its sponsors: Aéroports de Montréal, Air Canada, Intercontinental Hotel, La Vitrine culturelle, La Presse, and The Gazette.