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Archive for June 20th, 2012

More Saul Holiff: A #ldnont quiz & a Mel-O-Dene & Capers hero remembers the Man

- June 20th, 2012

It has been a pleasure writing about Saul Holiff today . . . here’s a quiz for the usual JBNBlog prizes. Among many other things, Saul Holiff was The Free Press restaurant critic for a time. What was the name of his column?

Someone who knew Saul even before the Johnny Cash connection really took hold is B.C.-based drummer Bob Liley. Back in the day, Bob was the leader of what was likely London’s pioneering rock & roll group, the Mel-O-Denes, and then Capers. Here are some amusing memories of Saul Holiff and less amusing of Johnny Cash when life around the country star could be grim.

Hi, James:

As you may remember, Saul always fancied himself as an impresario. He was a haberdasher when we met, with a clothing store upstairs on King St., I believe. He had a sign over the dressing mirror in his shop. I was 17 or 18 at the time. The sign said ‘WYBMADIFITY’. I, very naively, asked him what it meant. He turned to me and said, “Will you buy me a drink if I tell you”? I said no, that I was underage. I asked him again and got the same answer. We went through this a few more times until I finally realized that’s what the sign meant. Gheez!

His girlfriend at the time was a young blond beauty named Vanessa (I believe). Very svelte! As he had started to manage the band at this point, ‘Capers’, we spent some time with Saul, who opened his first ‘Saul’s Square Boy’ hamburger joint out in London South during this period. He booked Johnny Cash into Lucan and our band did a show with him, the first of three. This was during Johnny’s heavy drinking period, and we almost needed to prop him up on stage. The ‘Tennessee Two’, his back-up group, seemed unfazed by this. Bob Comber, who was playing vibes with the band at that point, remembers us putting Day-Glo silk-screen posters up all over town advertising this event. These posters were produced by Gerry Risser (my business partner/guitar player) and me in my parents’ basement. Bob remembers Saul claiming he lost money on this venture and paid us in shirts, which we got to select from his inventory! After several more Cash extravaganzas, Saul became Johnny’s manager and we lost touch.

I remember Saul as a well-dressed, impressive character with a strong personality who attracted people to him. When I learned that Saul was living out here in Victoria, I tried unsuccessfully to contact him. Then I learned he had died. An interesting character…

Regards,
Bob