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.

The Lightfoot Band returns

The legacy of Gordon Lightfoot's music is in good hands, thanks to his longtime backing group of Rick Haynes, Barry Keane, Mike Heffernan and Carter Lancaster. Those veteran musicians are committed to keeping the master's songs alive. Last Saturday (Jan. 27), the Lightfoot Band made its debut at Toronto's El Mocambo with its newest member Andy Mauck on vocals and rhythm guitar. Anyone worried about how the American-born singer might sound delivering those classic songs can rest assured: Mauck, vocally, is a dead ringer for 1970s and '80s-era Lightfoot. Plus, he's humble as hell, repeatedly saying what an honour it was to be asked to join the band and sing the songs of his hero. "Gord was a s...

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Gordon Lightfoot: The Canadian bard wrote the tunes for a nation's identity

More than any other singer-songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot personified Canada. His robust songs about winter nights, morning rain, being bound for Alberta and sailing on Ontario’s Georgian Bay came closest to expressing for many Canadians the essence of life in the Great White North. Historical epics stood alongside romantic ballads. Author Pierre Berton once said that Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” conveyed as much about the building of the national railway as his own best-selling book on the subject. When Lightfoot died Monday evening at the age of 84, leaving a vast legacy of more than 500 songs, Canada lost a masterful composer, a distinctive vocalist and one of its ...

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Gordon Lightfoot's music education

Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away May 1, would have turned 85 today. His legacy includes songs that will live on for decades to come. Success didn’t come easy for him. In the beginning, Lightfoot worked hard at learning everything there was to know about music. Long before his first hit records, Lightfoot tried choir singing, barbershopping, pop crooning, jazz drumming and square dancing. While in a folk duo called the Two Tones, he even jumped on the Belafonte craze and belted out a calypso. When he was 19 and studying jazz composition and orchestration at the Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, Lightfoot and three fellow students moonlighted as the Four Winds, recor...

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Toronto Songs: Gordon Lightfoot's "On Yonge Street"

Gordon Lightfoot got his start on Yonge Street, not in Yorkville. Although the bard of Canadian song is often associated with Yorkville’s Riverboat coffeehouse, where he first became a star while performing weeklong stints in the mid-1960s, his first real home as a solo artist was Steele’s Tavern, at 349 Yonge. A two-storey operation run by Greek restaurateur Steele Basil, Steele’s was sandwiched between Yonge Street’s famously competitive record stores: Sam’s and A&A’s. There, in the upstairs Venetian Lounge, Lightfoot performed his songs for anyone who would listen, often competing with the clink of beer glasses and televised hockey games for people’s attention. Lightfoot had traveled ...

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Gordon Lightfoot and Massey Hall

No single artist is more closely connected to Massey Hall than Gordon Lightfoot. Beginning in 1951 and ’52, as a pre-teen with his first place wins in two Kiwanis Festival singing competitions, Lightfoot has made over 165 appearances (and counting) on its hallowed stage. The Orillia native returned in ’55 with his Teen Timers quartet to take second prize in a barbershop singing contest. Lightfoot’s first concert as a featured singer-songwriter came in March 1967, which one critic described as a “country-and-Lightfoot parade of Canadiana.” Two years later, Canada’s folk star recorded his first live album there, Sunday Concert (his second was 2012’s All Live, drawn from material recorded at Ma...

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