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.

Obituary: Oddball musical genius Joe Hall

Joe Hall in bathtub - Cordova Bay Archives
Joe Hall possessed one of the most fertile imaginations in Canadian songwriting. His concerts in the 1970s and 80s are the stuff of legend: frenetic displays of eclectic music and absurdist theatre in which he seemed to have narrowly escaped a straitjacket. Although his star dimmed in subsequent decades, the prolific artist never stopped writing songs, recording and performing. When news spread recently that he had died, fans across Canada mourned the loss of a gifted, lovable oddball whose commercial success never matched his unbridled talent. During Mr. Hall’s heyday touring widely with his band the Continental Drift, he often drew comparisons to Frank Zappa for wild performances of songs ...
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Obituary: Composer Galt MacDermot

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The world-renowned composer of Broadway’s hit musical Hair began his musical career in the 1950s as the organist-choirmaster at Montreal’s Westmount Baptist Church. At the time, Galt MacDermot also moonlighted in nightclubs around his hometown—“crashing about on the piano, turning church hymns into jazz,” as one of his relatives, the writer Janet Savage Blachford, once recalled. By 1957, the son of a Canadian diplomat and teacher had composed music for My Fur Lady , Canada’s most successful original musical. MacDermot moved around a lot as a child, but music was a constant preoccupation. Encouraged by his piano-playing father, Terence, Galt began experimenting on the record at age five and b...
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Obituary: Soul singer Jackie Shane

JackieShane-promoshot Photo courtesy of Gerry Miskolczi
Jackie Shane broke all the rules. An American-born, black, transgender woman, Ms. Shane first came to Canada in the conservative early 1960s and won over audiences with her glamorous image and soulful singing. For the next decade, she packed clubs in Ontario and Quebec and landed one memorable song, the slinky, sassy “Any Other Way , ” near the top of the charts. But then Ms. Shane disappeared and erroneous rumours circulated of a possible murder or suicide. For the next 40 years, the mystery grew until word came that the retired performer was living back in her native Nashville. Ms. Shane’s rediscovery resulted in a massive comeback that the former singer never planned – nor actively partic...
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Obituary: Big Sugar bassist Garry Lowe

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He was the gentle, dreadlocked musician who gave popular Canadian blues-reggae rockers Big Sugar its distinctive bass sound. But Garry Lowe, who passed away July 7, played a far greater role, bridging the reggae and Rastafarian culture of his native Jamaica with diverse audiences wherever he went, both with Big Sugar and as a prominent member of numerous other bands. And whenever a Jamaican star visited Toronto, Lowe was almost always there onstage, laying down his deep groove. “For a while, it seemed that Garry was the only reggae bass player in the world,” recalls Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson, commenting on Lowe’s ubiquitous presence was on the Toronto scene. “I’m sure when Garry join...
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Obituary: Paupers and Lighthouse drummer Skip Prokop

Skip-ArtUsherson Skip Prokop performs with Lighthouse at the Ontario Place Forum in 1972. Photo by Arthur Usherson.
Skip Prokop was one of Canada’s first major rock stars, a world-class drummer and talented songwriter who co-founded the groundbreaking jazz-rock band Lighthouse, which earned international acclaim in the 1970s. His death on August 30, after a long battle with heart disease, sparked an outpouring of tributes from the music world. Prokop got his start with the Paupers, an innovative Toronto rock quartet that took New York by storm in March 1967 and became the first Canadian band to land a U.S. album deal. He then recorded with Janis Joplin, performed with Cass Elliot and Carlos Santana and became greatly admired for his session work with Peter, Paul & Mary and Al Kooper and Mike...
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