Historic Toronto music venue that has welcomed U2, Rolling Stones, Ramones to its stage has been sold once again, confirms co-owner Sam Grosso.
By Sadiya Ansari
Toronto Star Sep 17 2014
Sam Grosso, co-owner of El Mocambo, has confirmed that after over 65 years the legendary music venue — which has seen the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Ramones and U2 — will be closing its doors Nov. 6.
“I would like not to sell it, but I don’t have the money to continue buying out certain investors,” said Grosso, who has owned the club for the past two years.
The property has been conditionally sold, but Grosso would not comment on who the buyer is. As for what will stand at 464 Spadina Ave. after the sale, Grosso said he hopes the building will remain part of the city’s music scene.
He himself stepped in just two years ago to try to resurrect the club’s glory after it was sold by Abbas Jahangiri, who had tried first a dance studio and then a mix of different styles of live music.
Music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings laments the loss of what he calls “the top club in Toronto in terms of history.”
“There’s something about climbing those stairs and being in proximity of that stage — the walls seem to be just breathing with all the ghosts and stories of performances past,” said Jennings.
That history includes scandal — the Rolling Stones made headlines for more than their set in 1977 when Margaret Trudeau was seen at their show, sparking a media frenzy that resulted in the revelation of her separation from then sitting prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
A Stevie Ray Vaughan concert film was recorded there, as were live albums from Elvis Costello, April Wine, punk band Silverstein and more.
Jennings commended Grosso and his partner Marco Petrucci’s efforts to honour the venue’s rich history, particularly by restoring its trademark neon palm tree sign.
“Every city needs a connection to its earlier eras and signs like the El Mocambo sign are a reminder of what we’ve had as a city,” said Jennings, adding that he wants to see the sign recognized as a historical artifact.
Grosso also hopes the sign will be preserved.
“I would love to have that sign somehow maybe stay on the building or moved somewhere else in the city,” Grosso said.
The club’s final show will be on Nov. 6 for Light of Day, an organization that raises funds for Parkinson’s research.
Holding a Light of Day fundraiser two years ago, when Grosso first took over, is one of his fondest memories at El Mocambo, but another long predates his ownership: sneaking in when he was 17 to see Bo Diddley perform.
“I’m really, really going to miss it,” Grosso said.