Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

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New York: If you can make it there....

The Paupers in Central Park - photo by Linda Eastman
Canadian musicians have always flocked to New York, drawn like moths to the bright lights of the city that never sleeps. Dreams of a breakthrough in New York have inspired artists ever since Toronto vocal groups the Crew-Cuts, the Four Lads and the Diamonds all had success there, followed by Ottawa teenager Paul Anka, who ventured to the Big Apple in 1957 and scored a number one hit with "Diana," his lovestruck ode to a former babysitter. The steady stream continued during the folk boom. In November, 1965, Ian & Sylvia performed at New York's prestigious Philharmonic Hall while Gordon Lightfoot played a few days later just down Broadway Avenue at the Town Hall. Both folk acts became regu...
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The Band, a marijuana bust and the Ed Sullivan Show

Levon and the Hawks to the Band on Ed Sullivan
In early 1965, Toronto's Levon & the Hawks were having a hard time with the law. Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, along with their road manager Bill Avis, were charged with possession of marijuana, after being arrested at Toronto's airport by RCMP officers. With bail set at $10,000 apiece and a court case likely to drag on for months, the pot bust threatened to detrail the momentum of the group that would soon become world famous as the Band. The charges were all a set up. A jealous boyfriend of a girl Danko was seeing told the cops that the group was smuggling in a trunkful of pot into Canada. In fact, Danko had an ounce of Panama Red in his jac...
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Red Shea and John Stockfish: Lightfoot's first sidemen

Red Shea and John Stockfish with Lightfoot at Expo 67
Gordon Lightfoot's music has always been about more than just the man and his songs. Beginning in 1965, all of Lighfoot's performances and recordings included regular band members. The first two musicians to join him were guitarist Red Shea and bassist John Stockfish. Throughout the rest of the '60s and into the '70s, Shea and Stockfish each provided key elements to the Lightfoot sound. But who were they, and where did they come from? Red Shea was born Laurice Milton Pouliot in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Red had a checkered past, having hopped freight trains and worked in a traveling carnival. He'd even done a stint in prison. Looking to break into show business, he ventured east with his ...
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