I was manager of Kid Bastien's Camellia Band for about a year. I thought my job was to promote the band , get them gigs make them successful etc.I couldn't have been more wrong. I made a deal with owner of Yonge Station for his second floor bar., I made a dream contract with big money for everybody and Artistic control and design control everything you could think of. Everybody in the band was ecstatic, it was they all wanted. Cliff turned it down, he had his life sorted out the way he wanted. He like making signs and gold leaf etc and playing a few times a week and wasn't going to change. This brought an end to the Camellia band and the start of Happy Pals. I sold my motorcycle and went down south sailing for a year or so.
Fats Domino was playing the El Macambo. I was sitting in Grossman's when out of the blue Cliff Bastien asked I I wanted to go up the street and see Fats so I agreed we went up and caught the first set. Fats did his shtick lots of hits to playwith and had the place jumping. For the last number of the set he thumps really hard and pushes the piano across the stage with his stomach as he plays. When the set was over Cliff led me up to the dressing room and rapped on the door. Fats opened the door with a big smile and a hug for Cliff and invited us in. After the introduction we sat down and cliff gave Fats the lowdown on a bunch of people in New Orleans. Fats smiled at me and said 'Damn he knows more about my family than I do." I learned that Cliff had lived in New Orleans for a while and Fats'uncle had t aught Cliff how to play the banjo and Cliff was friends with quite a few of Fats relatives. Fats dedicated a song to his friend'Kid Bastien' in the second set. It was a night to remember.
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.