Canadian Musician - November/December 2021 - Page 42

This excerpt , shared exclusively with Canadian Musician , is taken from David McPherson ’ s new book , Massey Hall ( Dundurn Press ), which tells the fascinating story of Canada ’ s most revered concert hall and the myriad artists who have graced its stage . Based on scores of interviews and meticulous research , Massey Hall chronicles not only the historical and musical moments of the past 127 years , but also the community of artists and supporters that has built up around the hall . Covering both emerging artists such as Shakura S ’ Aida and William Prince and musical giants from Herbie Hancock to The Tragically Hip , this full-colour book is a celebration of music , community , and our shared cultural heritage . For more information , go to www . davidmcpherson . ca and www . dundurn . com or follow @ masseyhallbook on Twitter and Instagram .
By Michael Raine

MASSEY HALL in the 1970s :

Let There Be Rock

The 1970s opened with Simon & Garfunkel releasing Bridge over Troubled Water , their final record together , and closed after the invention of the CD in 1979 . In Canadian politics , Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act to curb civil liberties following the October Crisis in Montreal . On the world stage , the Vietnam War raged on . In music news , The Beatles broke up ; punk arrived . So did disco . One of the earliest bands of the fledgling punk rock scene , the New York Dolls , played Massey Hall on June 15 , 1974 , with future rock icons Kiss opening .

A couple of years later , “ punk poet laureate ” Patti Smith played the hall . Canadian New Wave pioneers Rough Trade rolled in on December 19 , 1977 , with a show called “ Restless Underwear ” that mixed theatre and music . Kevan Staples , co-founder of Rough Trade , along with Carole Pope , recalls this unforgettable artmeets-music extravaganza :
“ The ‘ Restless Underwear ’ show was a blast . Imagine selling out Massey Hall with a theatrical musical extravaganza without being a recording artist . Peter Goddard gave us an unfavourable review , but the audience seemed to enjoy it . [ Drag artist ] Divine was lovely and we were thrilled to have her do the show . Carole and I were huge fans and had seen her stage appearances in New York . We were lucky to have Fran Pillersdorf , who had done two of Bowie ’ s tours , hook us up with both Divine and Ron Link who directed the show . It was trashy and silly . Also worth noting that the show also had Luci Martin , singer from Nile Rodgers ’ s band Chic , as one of the trashy girls . Carole and her sister Elaine wrote the show and many of our friends contributed to the wardrobe and sets . We had dreams of taking it to New York , which we did a year later , where we bombed miserably due to the audience wanting none of us and much more of Divine . It was a humbling experience but somehow still worth the pain . It would be over three years before we got to play Massey Hall again . It is such a wonderful place to perform .”