Toronto has made it’s mark in the pages of music history, that’s no surprise. But where we have Canadian musicians like Joni Mitchel, Rush, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young to thank for putting us on the map, we also have our legendary music landmarks in Toronto to thank for intertwining historical moments in music history in with Canadian geography.
Here are the most Iconic Music landmarks here in Toronto:
Prince’s Toronto Home
After marrying Torontonian Manuela Testolini in 2001, Prince spent the duration of their marriage living in a North York mansion. Within the time spent in Toronto, Prince released his 28th studio album, Musicology, which was recorded in a studio in Mississauga. The Toronto home, located in the affluent Bridal Path neighbourhood, was originally listed at $9.5 million over two years ago, but was quickly pulled from the market following the news of the singer’s untimely death. Now in 2017 the mansion is back on the market, relisted at a whopping $13 million.
Toronto’s 100 year old Concert Hall
Over the past few years the Toronto music scene has suffered the loss of many cherished music venues, including the Silver Dollar Room, The Hoxton, and Hugh’s Room (before coming back again). That’s why the news of the 100 year old Toronto venue reopening its doors in 2017 comes as a ray of light in these dark times. Within it’s lifetime, spanning back to 1918, the Concert Hall has housed Led Zeppelin, Beastie Boys, the Tragically Hip and Rage Against the Machine, among others. This year the Toronto Jazz Festival kicks off the reopening of the venue. The Concert Hall is located in the Masonic Temple at 888 Yonge Street.
Rolling Stones’ Rehearsal Space
(Photo courtesy Coyote ccl via Wiki Commons)
In 1994 the Rolling Stones took over Crescent School, a boys private school in North York to prepare for their international Voodoo Lounge tour. Since the band was running out of working days on their US visas they relocated to Toronto, close to tour promoter and Toronto native Michael Cohl. The band reportedly added some personal touches to the private school, including the installation of a ping pong table and other games, in a space deemed their “rec room.”
Though the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium most often houses collegiate sports events it has also hosted one of the most significant moments in the history of Toronto’s music scene: The 1969 Rock and Roll Revival concert. The line up for this 14-hour event included John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Little Richard, The Plastic Ono Band, Eric Clapton, and The Doors, among others. Toronto brought music fans and artists together for an unforgettable night, later called, “defining moment in popular culture.”
To this day MuchMusic Digital studios resides on the corner of Queen and John, a pop culture landmark known for bridging the gap between radio and television in the ’80s, bringing popular music content to young viewers across Canada in a new, exciting format. For those growing up in the late ’80s to ’00s, MuchMusic gave many young Canadians a formal education in pop culture, music, and media. From the weekly Top 30 music video countdown, to the on-screen VJs, the interviews, live performances and everything in between, MuchMusic is a significant landmark in Toronto’s music scene.
In 2017 The Gasworks is all but gone. You can walk by the skeleton of what used to be Toronto’s favourite Hard Rock club on Yonge Street, but the spirit that brought the place alive disappeared after last call on the night it closed for good in 1993. Fortunately, the Gasworks lives on through it’s film adaption in Wayne’s World, where the venue is featured.
Yorkville’s Indie Scene
In the 1960’s Yorkville was the breeding ground for indie music, art, and culture. Although the Yonge and Bloor area is now lined with high-end shops and condos it was once known as “the hippie capital of Toronto,” even being compared to eclectic neighbourhoods in New York City and San Francisco. Coffee shops and small venues, namely The Riverboat and The Onion, were grounds for inspiration and creativity, seeing the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Buffy Saint Marie, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell among a long list of homegrown talents. The end of the decade brought on waves of gentrification that ended the once flourishing counterculture movement, but Yorkville will forever be remembered as the foundation for Toronto’s indie scene.
Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens was a legendary venue, and not just for Hockey. Some of the biggest international musicians have played there, including a triple appearance from The Beatles during all three of their North American Tours, as well as Elvis Presley for his first and only Toronto visit. Other notable artists include Dolly Parton, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Rolling Stones, and Jonny Cash. The Gardens also hosted Winston Churchill in 1932 among other political gatherings, marking it as the intersections of arts, culture, sports, and politics in Toronto.
Sam the Record Man
Sam the Record Man was once Canada’s largest record store, the go-to spot for everything music in Toronto. The flagship store opened in 1959 and remained a beloved Yonge Street staple until it closed for good in 2007. Although the store had up to 140 locations across Canada, the original location sat at the heart of Toronto’s music scene and flourished in the pre internet era. Notable guests include The Guess Who, Anne Murray, Rush, and Gordon Lightfoot, who stopped by to visit owner Sam Spiderman from time to time.
Image courtesy Skeezix1000 via Wiki Commons