All About Alumni / Summer 2016
I Saw Him Standing There

How a U of T engineering student found himself on stage with the Beatles in 1964


Photo by Roy McFadden, York University Islandora Archives of Toronto Telegram.

Robert Morris (in glasses), with the Beatles. Photo by Roy McFadden, York University Islandora Archives of Toronto Telegram.

In 1964, during the rising crest of Beatlemania, Robert Morris, a 22-year-old electrical engineering student at U of T, found himself on stage with the Beatles – shoulder to shoulder with Paul McCartney, wearing a blazer with the U of T crest, while flashbulbs ignited around him.

But how the heck did he get there?

The Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens that September. Morris was editor-in-chief of the U of T engineering newspaper, Toike Oike. “I decided to try to exploit my editorial position,” he admits. After pleading his case to the Maple Leaf Gardens’ publicity director, Morris was rewarded with a pass to both concerts – and to the press conference.

After the first show, the Fab Four held a Q&A with about 150 reporters in the arena. An informal photo-op followed. “John Lennon was standing at centre stage, approached by absolutely no one,” says Morris.

Morris pounced: he asked the musician to sign his copy of In His Own Write (Lennon’s first book). “Later,” replied Lennon.

“I moved a few feet away, and soon realized that there would be no ‘later,’” says Morris. “I retraced my steps and engaged him one-on-one in a long-forgotten five-minute conversation.”

The experience of seeing the megastars live is captured in Morris’s Toike Oike review: “The legendary voices and personalities were indeed merged into four living beings – these Beatles.”

Watch: The Beatles in Canada: documentary footage, 1964


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