October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980
The day John Lennon died was the day I started my five-year stint in rock'n'roll as a lighting director, technician and all around roadie.
On Saturday December 6, 1980, I flew from Hamilton Ontario to Manitoba to join my buddies The Rockers at their gig in Brandon. It was snowing too hard and the flight was diverted to Winnipeg, with its larger airport and longer runways. The plane skidded on the runway during landing due to the heavy blizzard that was blowing. We had to take the bus to Brandon. Did I mention it was snowing? Our bus, and all the other vehicles, drove along slowly behind the snow plows all the way. I made it just in time to catch the last set and got up to play some harmonica with the band on an AC/DC song, "The Jack" as I often did at their shows.
After the gig, the crew tore down and packed while we partied with some fans back in the rooms. We said our goodbyes, and very early on Sunday, we headed east, following transport truck tail lights through the blind blowing white tunnel in the inky blackness along the Trans-Canada Highway. It finally started to clear up as we got near Thunder Bay, around dawn, where we stopped for breakfast.
The Sunday drive through northwest Ontario in winter was not fun. The sun had come out, and the salt spray from the road coated our cube van, and its windshield. We had to stop frequently to throw snow on the grimy windshield because we would run out of washer fluid and had little money to get more, since we needed to buy gas for the long drive. The gear was arranged so guys could sleep in the back, on top of the PA bins, wrapped in clothing, coats, hats, and sleeping bags. You can imagine the funky aromas wafting through the vehicle.
We stopped at a roadie's mom's house in Sudbury and had a nice hot meal of cabbage rolls, along with showers and a quick nap. Again, we headed out on the highway, now going due south. It was Monday afternoon around 5 pm when we finally rolled into the Hammer, sun shining, radio blaring Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town".
We dropped each band and crew member off at their home, along with their gear, then the crew took the PA and lighting gear back to the warehouse after dropping off my cousin and me, and our gear, at his mom's. After filling up on some fine home cooking, we were so exhausted that we crashed before 11 pm.
Next day, Tuesday December 9, 1980, we got up fairly early to head down the QEW to Niagara Falls to put up posters for our weekend 3-night gig at Uncle Sam's, a peeler and rock palace on Lundy's Lane which was to become our second home over the next year or two. It was while travelling in the car to the Falls that we heard on the radio about John. We were stunned into silence, which hung about us the whole day as radio stations all around the Golden Horseshoe and on the New York state side played Lennon and Beatles songs. The mood was very sombre and people were subdued. It was as if the world stopped turning for a day while John made his exit.
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