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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Flying high with John Kay and the Sparrows

John Kay was a German-born singer who was playing folk-blues guitar and harmonica at Yorkville’s Half Beat and crashing above the Night Owl in an apartment belonging to Vicky Taylor, Joni Mitchellʼs ex-room-mate. One night in 1965, during an after-hours jam session above the Half Beat, some of the Sparrows came up, heard Kay and joined in. They loved Kayʼs bluesy edge and later suggested he drop by the Devilʼs Den and play some harmonica. The Sparrows then asked Kay to join—but not without a makeover.  According to Jerry Edmonton, Kayʼs hair, for one thing, didnʼt look right. “It was all slicked back. He looked more like James Dean, black hair, greasy and combed back. He was a bit pudgy...
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The thrilling blues of Luke & the Apostles

Starting in the mid-1960s, Luke & the Apostles—a quintet fronted by the Mick Jagger-like Luke Gibson—were packing Yorkville’s Purple Onion night after night. Although guys were drawn to the Apostlesʼ raw covers of songs like “Crossroads,” “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and “You Canʼt Judge a Book,” girls were drooling over the sight of Gibson. Off-stage, Gibson was shy and quiet, but on-stage, he was transformed into a writhing, shaking, screaming package of pure sexual energy. With his curly hair and boyish good looks, Gibson was the bandʼs biggest asset. But the Apostles—guitarist Mike McKenna, keyboardist Peter Jermyn, bassist Jim Jones and drummer Rich McMurray—sounded good enough ...
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Malka & Joso - Songs in Many Tongues

Long before the term “world music” became a popular catch-all for sounds from around the globe, Malka & Joso were singing songs in Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Creole French, Macedonian and Russian. During the mid-1960s, the handsome folk duo brought a distinctly international flavour to the Canadian folk scene, performing in coffeehouses and concert halls, at folk festivals and on television with their own weekly CBC program. Malka & Joso’s three albums for Capitol Records were the unlikely hits of the decade, outselling many of the label’s English-language albums. Malka Marom was born in Israel, the daughter of a cantor. Joso Spralja was born in the former Yugoslavia, the son of a fis...
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Obituary: Elyse Weinberg - Yorkville's Forgotten Folkie

She was one of Yorkville’s forgotten female folkies, a contemporary of Joni Mitchell and a friend of Neil Young who left Toronto in 1968 for the hills above Los Angeles. For a while, Elyse Weinberg was a Lady of the Canyon herself, with an acclaimed debut album and a rose-tinted future. Newsweek magazine even compared her to Ms. Mitchell, Melanie and Laura Nyro. But disillusionment with the music business eventually caused the husky-voiced singer to drop out, move to the rural northwest and change her name. In 2000 Ms. Weinberg, then living as Cori Bishop in Ashland, Ore., received an out-of-the-blue phone call: a young musician had found her mystical self-titled debut in a thrift ...
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Book Excerpt: Yorkville's Ugly Summer of Love

By the summer of ’67, Yorkvilleʼs hippies found themselves choking on exhaust fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic. Reduced to curiosities for the passing, pointing motorists, many resented the way their community was being taken over by tourists gawking at the longhairs. Kids started demanding that Yorkvilleʼs streets be closed to cars. The Diggers seized on this and the issue became the hippiesʼ new mantra. Yorkville had been a thorn in the side of Toronto the Good for some time. But in the heat of that summer, the problems came to a head. Cops in the village started hassling kids with a “move-along, move-along” attitude. Politicians, meanwhile, railed against the presence of runaway youths...
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