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Youth is wasted On …

I used to be young once. Although I’m sure my grandkids might doubt it.

Here’s the proof, a photograph taken of me when I was 20 years old.

Musical Tastes

Aside from the hair and the jeans, I’m glad to say little else has changed. I was not aware of the picture being taken. It turned up later in the Manitoba Government Archives, at a moment when my sister had a summer job there. She recognized me and obtained a copy.

It was 1970, Manitoba’s Centennial year; August 29; the Man-Pop Festival, a rock concert at Winnipeg’s Football Stadium was sponsored by the provincial government to celebrate the year. I was about to see Iron Butterfly (of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida fame, one of my very first record purchases), which was a lead-up to one of the world’s great super-bands, Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, a ferocious rain and wind storm blew in, causing the venue to be moved into the nearby (and much smaller) hockey arena, and not everyone got in. Here’s how a local music historian recorded the event for the Manitoba Music Museum Facebook group.

At this point, prior to the storm taking hold and decked out in my perfect blue jeans – please note no fraying, no holes – and, given my officer cadet status, short hair, I was only focused on the stage. No eyes for any photographer (one of whom was actually a high school classmate) and just enjoying the terrific sunshine. As you can tell, I was pretty straightlaced for the era.

This wasn’t my only rock concert during those university years. Steppenwolf (as in Looking For Adventure) was another one I saw in Winnipeg (the album was better). But the highlight of those years was a concert in Toronto, June 21 & 22, 1969 at Varsity Stadium (University of Toronto), where I’d gone during a weekend off from military training at CFB Borden.

I still have the program, after all these years (10 cents!). And here is the two-day line-up:

I couldn’t stay until the end since I had to be back to the base by Sunday night, but the highlight of Saturday night was Sly & the Family Stone, one of the best closing acts in rock and roll.

While I tended to progressive blues groups like Ten Years After, Johnny Winter and Savoy Brown, my favorite, and the last band I ever went to see in their prime, was Jethro Tull. Who could resist Ian Anderson and his electric flute, songs that took up both sides of an LP record, allusions to 17th century British history in their choice of name and a fusion of folk, jazz and classical elements in their songs? And an act that incorporated a six-foot tall rabbit. I might add that the band is still touring and releasing albums.


I’ve spoken before about growing up as an Anglophile. My parents, despite living either in the Canadian prairies or far north (with their bitter winters), always purchased British cars, completely unsuited to the Canadian climate, an Austin A30 in the mid 1950’s, then a Morris Oxford station wagon in the late 50’s/early 60’s, then back to an Austin 1800, by the time I learned how to drive. As you can imagine I had quite a store of books on the subject of cars and racing.

I was a huge fan of Formula-1 racing, especially British drivers: Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart and John Surtees, the only driver to win at the top level in both racing cars and on motorcycles. Perhaps that’s why I decided to try my hand at it. Our father was very easy-going as far as letting us drive the last Austin and, over one Christmas holiday break, he let my brother and I use it for a rally on the country roads around Winnipeg, our first adventure doing such a thing, me driving and my brother navigating. (My fantasies of replicating the Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia in Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #722).

Original ceramic work by my brother, dated 1981.

Car racing wasn’t really my forte, however. It wasn’t long before, driving too fast on the icy gravel roads, we missed a 45 degree turn and went right into a rather deep ditch. I can still recall that awful hopeless feeling, having no control, no ability to affect the outcome and just bracing for the impact. Fortunately, nothing was broken, bodily or mechanically, and we were able to get the car back on the road and finish the race. Never did reveal the truth to my dad. Feeling fortunate to have been reprieved from huge shame, I never tried rallying again. My brother, however, went on to motorcycle racing with a Ducati, something I never dared to try.

Courtesy of the art generator, OPEN AI DALL E2: my drawing of an Austin 1800 racing across mid-winter prairies

Cover Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash