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.

Robbie Robertson - Songs of a native son

Stepping off a Greyhound bus from Toronto in 1961, a 17-year-old boy found himself in West Helena, Ark., by the banks of the Mississippi River, unable to believe his senses. “It smelled different and moved different,” Robbie Robertson recently recalled. “The people talked and dressed different. And the air was filled with thick and funky music.” The experience left an indelible impression on the budding guitarist and songwriter. Years later, Robertson drew on it to write some of rock’s most evocative songs—including “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” And he performed them with his group, The Band, which critic Greil Marcus has called “the best rock ’n’ roll band...

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Sandy Bozzo - Barber to the Stars

If you were a musician on Yonge Street in the 1960s, chances are, you had your suits made by Lou Myles and your hair cut by Sandy Bozzo. Together with his brother Frank, Sandy began cutting hair not long after arriving in Toronto as a 14-year-old from Cosenza, in Calabria, Italy. Born Santino and Ignazio, the brothers set up shop in 1958 at 413 Yonge. For the next 63 years, Frank and Sandy cut hair, always on Yonge Street—and, for 40 of those years, always on the east side of Yonge, between Gerrard and College.  Sandy’s first experience with show business was the day two boys from Arkansas sauntered in, looking to get a wash and a haircut. “We told them, ‘We can cut, but we can’t afford...

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Ronnie Hawkins - Last of the Good Ol' Boys

He was such a good ol’ boy, a teller of such tall tales and the master of so many self-deprecating one-liners it was often easy not to take Ronnie Hawkins too seriously. “I’m a legend in my spare time,” he liked to quip. Calling himself the “Geritol Gypsy,” he claimed to have been playing rockabilly “since the Dead Sea was only sick.” But when the veteran singer-bandleader – for whom the “big time” was always “just around the corner” – died on Sunday, the entertainment world mourned the loss of a bona fide legend whose greatest legacy was his mentoring of some of Canada’s finest musical stars. Mr. Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Ark., on Jan. 10, 1935 and studied physical education at the st...

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Peter Goddard - a critic for all seasons

Peter Goddard was a consummate music man: a classically trained pianist with a degree in ethnomusicology who became one of Canada’s most prolific and respected music critics. Throughout his long career, Mr. Goddard wrote about music of all kinds for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. He was the author of some 20 books, including biographies of Frank Sinatra, Ronnie Hawkins and Glenn Gould, and penned documentary scripts for radio and television. But his interests ran far beyond just music. Mr. Goddard was also a baseball fanatic, a wine connoisseur and a voracious reader with a keen intellect, insatiable curiosity and inexhaustible drive, who worked at different times as a film and ...

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Uncovering Canadian rock's early years

The story of rock and roll’s arrival in Canada has often been reduced to this: a good ol’ boy from Arkansas named Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins blew into Toronto with his Hawks in 1958 and cast a hypnotic spell on unsuspecting Canadian audiences.  While it’s true that Hawkins did much to popularize rock music north of the 49th parallel, there were other, often unsung pioneers here already laying the groundwork. And that’s the strength of Greig Stewart’s new book Hawkins, Hound Dog, Elvis and Red: How Rock and Roll Invaded Canada. Stewart pays tribute to performers like Bobby Dean (Blackburn) and the Gems, Frank Motley and his Motley Crew, Little Caesar and the Consuls, Les Vogt and t...

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