In 1963 I was working in Toronto and spent a great deal of time at the village Corner and the Yorkville folk scene. I was hanging out with ken Danby at the new Gate of Cleve when he did the Mariposa Folk Festival Poster. In this milieu I met Ed Cowan and Jack Wall and ended up as Assistant Food Manager at the 63 Mariposa Festival in Orillia.
I worked with Wally cowan Ed's brother and we put together and suppled the several food booths that served the festival. I was staying at the crew motel as we set up the week before, and in the next room was the coolest guy I had ever met. he was from New York and did the lighting. We had a few beers together everyday. Chip had little round blue sunglasses and a young hippie wife with a baby and he knew everybody and was just cool. So the day befor the show he is looking real sad and I ask why. he says he is leaving. he broke his most important light and it cost $150.00 and he didn't have enough to pay for it. I asked if he could get it in Orillia he said yes. So we went and bought it and I charged it to the Festival. So the show went on and saved his business. That cool guy was Chip Monck one of the principle founders of the Woodstock Festival.
One of our big sponsors was Canada Dry and their reps were great quick to buy dinners and drinks and I was friend with a couple of them for years. the week before I had a van and set up freezer space for tons of Frozen pizzas hamburger patties hotdogs etc. organizing carpenters etc.
Somewhere in this I manged to back into the TR3 of lord Athol Layton the wrestler with our rented van. He did pull up in my blind spot( it took him about 5 years to find me to sign off the insurance)
I also partied most nights, eventually making a bed in the Van. I found a neat girlfriend to share it with. the only problem was the baker delivered the fresh rolls to the van at 4 in the morning. the festival itself was a zoo.
I remember the mayor of Orillia's introduction. Last year I said the Town is Yours. This year we would like it back!
The money rolled in from the booths so fast we ended up using my volkswagan bug as a vault. Wally and I had keys and would pick up handfuls of cash and stuff it in the back of the car under a blanket.
I once went into the festival office to get some change and found Irving the accountant sitting at a desk counting by stacks of money. I surprised him and he pulled a gun on me. when he saw it was me he apologized and put it away.
When it was over I helped clean up and got half my pay and was told I would get a cheque for the rest. after no cheque for a couple of weeks and getting the runaround from Wally I went to fith peg to see Jack Wall. he pleaded poor and offered me a week of free dinners and shows at the 5th Peg.
So I had a week of having dinner with John lee hooker as he performed to a very small crowd. As it turned out Jack ripped off everybody he paid nobody. he didn't pay most performers, suppliers. I don't know how he did it, the fith peg closed and he dropped out of sight.
Hi I am Gary LeDrew
And I am writing a book
I was lucky enough to be in the middle of most things in sixties and seventies and got to hang out with some of the greats and near greats and characters of that time.
I was involved in the Art scene and was friends and hung out with Jack Bush, Harold Town, Gord Rayner Robert markle, Mickey Handy, Gerry Gladstone, Gershon Iskowitz etc. etc. and I have stories about all of them.
I was in the music biz and managed a few bands like Kid Bastien and hung out with most of them. I was a close friend of Murray McLachlan for years, and hung out with Mike McDonald, Danny Marks, Praire Oyster, Irish Rebels, Downchilds, Ian Tyson, Tom Cochrane, Burton Cummins etc. etc. of course I was the Lobsterman and sang with McLean and Mclean. I hung out with Cannonball and Nat Adderly whenever they came to town.
I was Toronto's leading bootlegger for 5 years everybody came to my afterhours club from the Rolling Stones to the premier of New Brunswick. And Joanie Mitchell sang there.
I won an Actress in a poker game, Helen shaver cooked me supper and I went out with a bunch of models and actresses.
Lesley McDonnell introduced me to Leonard Cohen , Rod Steward and Paul Shaffer for a few. I hung out with Leonard for a while. I survived a night hanging out with Hunter S. Thompson (sitting with tom Waites)I basically had backstage passes to Maple Leaf Gardens and Massey hall whenever i wanted and Bonnie Rait kicked me out of her dressing room.
In the Movie biz I was friends with Mike Ironside for years and Winston Reckert, Catherine O'Hara, Michael Sarrazin,I have lain on Elizabeth Ashely's belly while she shoved coke up my nose. I showed Johnny Hart and Jack Caprio a good time. I took Howard Duff to Lunch everyday for a six weeks and was on his xmas card list until he died. I drank with Richard Burton at least a couple of times a week for 3 months and he told me everything.
I lived on a lighthouse as a kid and took off sailing in the caribbean for 15 months. I took and sold all manners of drugs and in the seventies I was The guy to know in Toronto.
I was one of the few white guys go to the Elephant walk club. If there is one thing I hope to dispel is Toronto as a dull place.
To business I am getting old and not in great health, I am living on a basic pension and I have to Hustle with my art and web sites most of the month to get by. I am afraid I might die before I get all these stories down
My friend Richard Flohil is also raising money to write his book so far over ten thousand and well deserved Richard was instrumental to the folk and blues and jazz scenes in Toronto and tells a good story too. In my own way I was too, I helped a lot of people along the way and I never really cared about money , you wouldn't believe the people that never paid their bar tabs for starters. i just might be a little more fearless in my admissions. For I am not ashamed of anything I did there is lots I wish I had never done.