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Front Page, Industry News

YONGE STREET – Toronto Rock & Roll Stories Gives us Back a Piece of our History

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards, which is returning to its original home city of Toronto this year, a special three-part series has been commissioned and will be premiering exclusively on Bravo! – Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories. Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Tracy Fragments) brings in his distinctive directorial style as the series explores the colourful past of Canada’s musical hub in the 50s and 60s. Featuring entertaining interviews with music legends Robbie Roberston, Daniel Lanois, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, John Kay and many more, the series includes a treasure trove of as yet unseen and unheard archival material uncovered by producer/archivist Jan Haust.

It’s hard to think of Yonge Street as anything other than an endless strip of nudie bars and brash consumerism, but there was a time when it was the cultural center of Toronto. When clubs like Le Coq d’or, the Brown Derby, the Zanzibar, the Crown Casino and The Edison Hotel thrived. It was, in fact, the proliferation of the nudie bars that killed the music scene – when the strip clubs went completely nude, that was the end of music on Yonge Street. 

Part one begins in the 50s when Toronto was a conservative white-bread banker town, the kind of town that used to roll up the sidewalk come evening. This was a town that preferred country and western. There was no rock ‘n’ roll or R&B music until the day Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm pulled up in front of Le Coq d’Or Tavern and after that Toronto was never the same. Yonge Street was a shady place then, full of sex, violence, crime and people of questionable morals. A place where the local police could come and pick up their envelopes. Stories in this first part of the series are told by Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Hawkins, among many others.

The second part in the series (airing on Tuesday) explores the 60s, when the music scene on Yonge Street began to spread into Yorkville. It was there that folk music began to thrive and young performers like Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell found a home. But Yonge Street was still the home for Rock & Roll bands. There, Robbie Robertson, with his band The Hawks, created his own distinctive guitar style that became synonymous with the “Toronto” sound. And, in the Sapphire Club, Black androgynous soul singer Jackie Shane blazed a trail: a flamboyant effeminate stage persona unlike any that had come before him, even incorporating, as Mouse Johnson relates, “rap before there was rap”.

When Dylan went electric, he came to Toronto for its sound and everything changed. Suddenly Rock & Roll bands could be put on the same bill as folk bands. In the third hour, due out Wednesday, artists like Neil Young, Rick James and The Myna Birds, John Kay and The Sparrow, John & Lee & the Checkmates, and The Paupers were all big names playing the Yorkville clubs. John Brower tells the story of how he brought John Lennon & Yoko Ono to headline the legendary Rock & Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium and when they arrived at the airport, provided an escort of over 80 bikers. Welcome to Toronto. But Canadians didn’t have the airtime support needed to sustain them. Toronto musicians had outgrown Toronto, so they left to find fame and fortune in the U.S. The strip clubs went nude and the Brown Derby was replaced with the Eaton Centre. In late 2010, fire ravaged the building that was the former, famous Edison Hotel at Yonge & Gould Sts., and the burnt shell of the building was demolished – just another vanished landmark of the time when Yonge Street was the place to be in Canada.

Take a candid look back on the artists that broke the mold and ultimately paved the way for today’s international Canadian superstars. Produced by film and television veteran David Brady, the series premiers exclusively on Bravo! Monday, March 21 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. with Part 2 airing Tuesday, March 22 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and Part 3 on Wednesday, March 23 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Come back tomorrow for our interview with Director Bruce McDonald and Producer/Writer Dave Brady.

To learn more, visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yongestreet

Twitter: @YongeStreetDoc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

YONGE STREET – Toronto Rock & Roll Stories Gives us Back a Piece of our History

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards, which is returning to its original home city of Toronto this year, a special three-part series has been commissioned and will be premiering exclusively on Bravo! – Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories. Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Tracy Fragments) brings in his distinctive directorial style as the series explores the colourful past of Canada’s musical hub in the 50s and 60s. Featuring entertaining interviews with music legends Robbie Roberston, Daniel Lanois, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, John Kay and many more, the series includes a treasure trove of as yet unseen and unheard archival material uncovered by producer/archivist Jan Haust.

It’s hard to think of Yonge Street as anything other than an endless strip of nudie bars and brash consumerism, but there was a time when it was the cultural center of Toronto. When clubs like Le Coq d’or, the Brown Derby, the Zanzibar, the Crown Casino and The Edison Hotel thrived. It was, in fact, the proliferation of the nudie bars that killed the music scene – when the strip clubs went completely nude, that was the end of music on Yonge Street. 

Part one begins in the 50s when Toronto was a conservative white-bread banker town, the kind of town that used to roll up the sidewalk come evening. This was a town that preferred country and western. There was no rock ‘n’ roll or R&B music until the day Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm pulled up in front of Le Coq d’Or Tavern and after that Toronto was never the same. Yonge Street was a shady place then, full of sex, violence, crime and people of questionable morals. A place where the local police could come and pick up their envelopes. Stories in this first part of the series are told by Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Hawkins, among many others.

The second part in the series (airing on Tuesday) explores the 60s, when the music scene on Yonge Street began to spread into Yorkville. It was there that folk music began to thrive and young performers like Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell found a home. But Yonge Street was still the home for Rock & Roll bands. There, Robbie Robertson, with his band The Hawks, created his own distinctive guitar style that became synonymous with the “Toronto” sound. And, in the Sapphire Club, Black androgynous soul singer Jackie Shane blazed a trail: a flamboyant effeminate stage persona unlike any that had come before him, even incorporating, as Mouse Johnson relates, “rap before there was rap”.

When Dylan went electric, he came to Toronto for its sound and everything changed. Suddenly Rock & Roll bands could be put on the same bill as folk bands. In the third hour, due out Wednesday, artists like Neil Young, Rick James and The Myna Birds, John Kay and The Sparrow, John & Lee & the Checkmates, and The Paupers were all big names playing the Yorkville clubs. John Brower tells the story of how he brought John Lennon & Yoko Ono to headline the legendary Rock & Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium and when they arrived at the airport, provided an escort of over 80 bikers. Welcome to Toronto. But Canadians didn’t have the airtime support needed to sustain them. Toronto musicians had outgrown Toronto, so they left to find fame and fortune in the U.S. The strip clubs went nude and the Brown Derby was replaced with the Eaton Centre. In late 2010, fire ravaged the building that was the former, famous Edison Hotel at Yonge & Gould Sts., and the burnt shell of the building was demolished – just another vanished landmark of the time when Yonge Street was the place to be in Canada.

Take a candid look back on the artists that broke the mold and ultimately paved the way for today’s international Canadian superstars. Produced by film and television veteran David Brady, the series premiers exclusively on Bravo! Monday, March 21 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. with Part 2 airing Tuesday, March 22 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and Part 3 on Wednesday, March 23 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Come back tomorrow for our interview with Director Bruce McDonald and Producer/Writer Dave Brady.

To learn more, visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yongestreet

Twitter: @YongeStreetDoc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

YONGE STREET – Toronto Rock & Roll Stories Gives us Back a Piece of our History

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards, which is returning to its original home city of Toronto this year, a special three-part series has been commissioned and will be premiering exclusively on Bravo! – Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories. Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Tracy Fragments) brings in his distinctive directorial style as the series explores the colourful past of Canada’s musical hub in the 50s and 60s. Featuring entertaining interviews with music legends Robbie Roberston, Daniel Lanois, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, John Kay and many more, the series includes a treasure trove of as yet unseen and unheard archival material uncovered by producer/archivist Jan Haust.

It’s hard to think of Yonge Street as anything other than an endless strip of nudie bars and brash consumerism, but there was a time when it was the cultural center of Toronto. When clubs like Le Coq d’or, the Brown Derby, the Zanzibar, the Crown Casino and The Edison Hotel thrived. It was, in fact, the proliferation of the nudie bars that killed the music scene – when the strip clubs went completely nude, that was the end of music on Yonge Street. 

Part one begins in the 50s when Toronto was a conservative white-bread banker town, the kind of town that used to roll up the sidewalk come evening. This was a town that preferred country and western. There was no rock ‘n’ roll or R&B music until the day Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm pulled up in front of Le Coq d’Or Tavern and after that Toronto was never the same. Yonge Street was a shady place then, full of sex, violence, crime and people of questionable morals. A place where the local police could come and pick up their envelopes. Stories in this first part of the series are told by Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Hawkins, among many others.

The second part in the series (airing on Tuesday) explores the 60s, when the music scene on Yonge Street began to spread into Yorkville. It was there that folk music began to thrive and young performers like Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell found a home. But Yonge Street was still the home for Rock & Roll bands. There, Robbie Robertson, with his band The Hawks, created his own distinctive guitar style that became synonymous with the “Toronto” sound. And, in the Sapphire Club, Black androgynous soul singer Jackie Shane blazed a trail: a flamboyant effeminate stage persona unlike any that had come before him, even incorporating, as Mouse Johnson relates, “rap before there was rap”.

When Dylan went electric, he came to Toronto for its sound and everything changed. Suddenly Rock & Roll bands could be put on the same bill as folk bands. In the third hour, due out Wednesday, artists like Neil Young, Rick James and The Myna Birds, John Kay and The Sparrow, John & Lee & the Checkmates, and The Paupers were all big names playing the Yorkville clubs. John Brower tells the story of how he brought John Lennon & Yoko Ono to headline the legendary Rock & Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium and when they arrived at the airport, provided an escort of over 80 bikers. Welcome to Toronto. But Canadians didn’t have the airtime support needed to sustain them. Toronto musicians had outgrown Toronto, so they left to find fame and fortune in the U.S. The strip clubs went nude and the Brown Derby was replaced with the Eaton Centre. In late 2010, fire ravaged the building that was the former, famous Edison Hotel at Yonge & Gould Sts., and the burnt shell of the building was demolished – just another vanished landmark of the time when Yonge Street was the place to be in Canada.

Take a candid look back on the artists that broke the mold and ultimately paved the way for today’s international Canadian superstars. Produced by film and television veteran David Brady, the series premiers exclusively on Bravo! Monday, March 21 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. with Part 2 airing Tuesday, March 22 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and Part 3 on Wednesday, March 23 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Come back tomorrow for our interview with Director Bruce McDonald and Producer/Writer Dave Brady.

To learn more, visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yongestreet

Twitter: @YongeStreetDoc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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