New auction tape

It was the summer of 1966, and the Beatles were making what was to be their last North American tour. As the “Fab Four” made their way across the United States, they took a quick detour north into Canada—Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens to be exact—for a concert on August 17. Among the 16,000 or so fans in attendance that day was a corporate attorney from Ontario, who packed his family and a battery operated, UHER 4000 REPORT-L reel-to-reel tape machine to watch … and record … the last appearance of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in Canada.

Offered is an amateur recording—a previously unknown audio example of the Toronto show—that amounts to a 2 hour and 20 minute documentary detailing one family’s experience at the final concert appearance of the Beatles in Canada. And “detail” is the name of the game here, as the tape begins with its narrator introducing his family to an unseen audience as they drive to the venue. The family spent the first few minutes discussing what they think the concert will be like, with succinct and sometimes prophetic observations offered, as well as checks on the time, weather conditions, and the overall pre-concert atmosphere. The sound of the crowd, traffic, program vendors … it’s all here. The original owner can be heard later in the tape spending his time interviewing anxious fans anticipating the appearance of the Beatles.

The opening acts are here: The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkie, The Ronettes (including “Be My Baby”). After a false alarm (a stagehand came onstage to adjust the drum set causing some young fans to faint), the stadium announcer utters the words everyone had been waiting to hear: … the BEATLES!

The immediate response from thousands of screaming, ecstatic fans is overwhelming. After some fine-tuning of their instruments by Lennon and Harrison, the band can be heard launching into “Rock and Roll Music”. Every note of the Beatles’ ten-song concert was captured on a 1/4″-tape, with the lead song followed by “She’s A Woman,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Day Tripper,” “Baby’s in Black,” “I Feel Fine,” “Yesterday,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Nowhere Man,” and “Paperback Writer.”

After the show, the would-be newsman leaves the stadium and, along the way, inquires of the hoarse fans why they came to the show and what they thought of the concert. With this running commentary, he makes his way outside in the hope of catching the Beatles on their way out. But alas, the Beatles had already left the building.

Too often, perhaps, the phrase “one of a kind” is used when referring to collectibles. Without hesitation, Mastro Auctions proudly affixes that title to this lot. Although the original audiotape is the true gem here (in its box with a vintage label affixed to the spool reads “Beatles #112 / Aug 66 / Maple Leafs Toronto“), this remarkable find also includes the original reel-to-reel tape machine (with its case) used to give a blow-by-blow account of the concert. A CD-R with samples of the original recording accompanies. The tape player has not been used in a number of years, though its very existence, and that of the original recording, is a true piece of Rock & Roll history.

Accompanying as provenance is a typed letter from the son of the original owner, the original sales receipt from the day his son sold it to a private collector, and a typed, detailed description of the tape’s content.

Paul and George in action at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1966.


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