Labatt’s Expo Theatre - Expo 86
Expo 86 in Vancouver could be summed up by the Irish Rovers song, “Wasn’t That a Party!” Vancouver invited the world to come and enjoy the 1986 Exposition which was officially opened on the shores of False Creek, by Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and Princess Diana on May 2, 1986.
When the gates finally closed on the 13th of October 1986, (37 years ago this past Friday) 22 million visitors had passed through the gates to not only celebrate the exposition but also to help celebrate Vancouver’s 100th anniversary.
It included 54 nations, 12 Provinces, and 14 corporate or specialized pavilions. If you were there, you’ll no doubt have many marvelous memories. You might even have attended one or more of the concerts performed at one of the pavilions known as the Labatt’s Expo Theatre.
The venue hosted a number of musical guests, as diverse as Harry Belafonte, Loverboy, Anne Murray, George Thorogood, Johnny Cash, Colin James, George Benson, Jim Byrnes, John Denver, The Beach Boys, Bryan Adams, and K.D. Lang, just to name a few. There were other entertainers as well, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, and George Burns. And that was just at the Labatt’s Theatre. The Irish Rovers had a venue called The Unicorn that hosted shows, and that really was a party. There was also The Flying Club, Waves, and 86 Street designed to keep the party going.
To add to the entertainment factor was the fireworks show every night of the exposition, accompanied by the official song of Expo 86, “Something’s Happening Here.” That song was written by Michael Koren, produced by Michael Koren and Wayne Kozak, and sung by Nancy Nash, with another version sung by Lisa Dalbello.
The Labatt’s Theatre also had a series of shows called “The Legends of Rock and Roll.” It hosted The Righteous Brothers, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Everly Brothers.
As I recall, the late Red Robinson was the promoter of the Legends of Rock and Roll shows and arranged for different radio and television people to MC the various shows. I was working at CKVU-TV at the time and was hosting Vancouver Live with Maria LaRose. The call came from Red, would I like to MC the Everly Brothers show? The answer was a very quick, “Yes!”
There wasn’t much to the gig. Come out on stage and welcome the people to the Legends Show, give a small introduction (The Everly Brothers didn’t need anything big!) and then get off the stage and let the boys do their show. It wasn’t the show that I found interesting, although it was great to see and hear them. Their voices hadn’t lost a thing over the years. The interesting part was what happened backstage before and after the concert.
We waited for the brothers to arrive, and I remember there was talk about how they weren’t getting along and had been feuding, even though they had performed a reunion show a few years earlier. We must have caught them on an off night. Eventually, a limo pulled up behind the stage and one of the Everly Brothers got out, the door closed, and made his way backstage. What, wait, just one brother? A few minutes later another limo pulled up, and the other brother got out and made his way backstage, but on the opposite side of the stage! So, we now had one brother on each side of the stage and neither looked very happy to be there! Seemed odd, not talking, different limos, different sides of the stage. I wondered if they were staying in different hotels?
It was showtime! I checked to see if they were both ready to go and got a nod, yes. Phil and Don Everly were there, ready to go with their signature black guitars, so I went to centre stage and welcomed the crowd, then said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Don and Phil, The Everly Brothers!” Out from either side of the stage came the boys with big smiles on their faces, they met in the middle of the stage and put on a great show!
As they finished the last song, they took their bows, went to separate sides of the stage, got into separate limos, and went back to presumably separate hotels? Who knows?
It’s been reported that before the brothers both passed away, they did settle their differences, but for that one night at Expo it seemed like it was Bye Bye Love.
Till next week...
1 // Irish Rovers - Wasn't That a Party
2 // Nancy Nash - Something's Happening Here
3 // The Everly Brothers - Bye Bye Love
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2