Yes I used to be in the movie business but when I met Michael I was
Toronto's leading 'bootlegger' I owned an after hours club that was
basically for musicians but I expanded it to the famous. I was notorious
in the 60's for my lavish parties and I slowly built up an illegal
business it was a lot of fun and very profitable and I met everybody and
their dog. Mike was teaching at the Art College of Ontario and had made
this acclaimed 8mm film thought he was somebody. I was the King of
Toronto and we clashed it took a couple of years for us to become
friends but when we did we were good friends. Mike got his scar before I
met him. He was sitting in his girlfriend's house having a beer and
waiting while she changed as they were going out, suddenly there was a
hammering at the door and when he open it up this drunk guy attacked
him screaming that he was stealing his girlfriend. in the course of the
brawl the guy broke the bottle and gashed Mike face Mike thought he had
lost his eye and he freaked out he actually tore one of the guy's eye
out. After the police and the ambulance and everything was sorted out
the guy had the wrong house his girlfriend lived next door.
Uxbridge is just north of Toronto. Where about in Florida do you live?
I love Florida I sailed out of Miami back in the very early 70's (before
I had the after hours club and the movie business I spent 15 months
sailing the Caribbean I used to be in the Canadian Navy) I have a half
brother that lives in Clearwater and an old friend that lives in
Melbourne I visited both of them 3 years ago
I got in the movie business after the after hours business. I got into
the movie business by phoning a producer twice a week for 2 and half
years. I wrote 5 screenplays (none were produced) and made movies with
Richard Burton, Tony Perkins, Susan Clark, Howard Duff, on and on.20
Anyway this blends into another letter if you mail me again I will be
glad to tell more It is kind of fun to remember it all. I actually wrote
a great true story about Lunch with Richard if you are interested I will
send it you. These stories about Michael seem rather wild and there is
lots to tell but there are even some I can't tell. Mike's ex-wife is a
police woman named 'Ironside' 20
Yes he has a daughter but I haven't seen her for years. I have a
daughter a few years older than Mike's. Nice kid many many years since I
have seen her.
I went to Peterborough with Mike just after the release of 'Visiting
Hours". His father had a had heart attack and I went with Mike to visit
him. It was quite an experience a lot of people in that hospital had
seen visiting hours and you should have seen the looks on their faces
when Mike walked by.
I really don't think about 'spilling the beans' I find it amusing that
Mike has such a big fan club. For me it just fun to remember what a
wildman he used to be and write some of these things down. Anyway I hope
you enjoy these tales they are written just as I remember them.
This letter was in part to some else from your fan club so I added a few
things and sent it to you as well. It's not that I mean to be impersonal
it's just modern times mon!
I talked on the phone to Mike last year and he sort of brushed me off.
Which was a little disappointing as we were such close friends and our
list of adventures together read some like sort of weird underground
action adventure. I understand why. I was a part of his past that he
doesn't particularly want remember. He is has been clean and sober for about
12 years and this is probably good as he would most likely be dead or in
jail if he had kept on. I wouldn't say that I liked him better as a
drunk but he certainly was interesting and we had a lot more in common
than we do now. A mike story: We used to drink at the Club 22 at the
Windsor Arms in Toronto. One night my friends Johnny Hart and Jack
Caprio who draw the cartoon BC were in town and I joined them for a few
drinks with Mike in tow. Michael got fairly hammered. I got up to meet
another old friend Catherine O'Hara from SCTV she had her parents with
and introduced them to me as I shook hands with her mother, I gave a
bit of a bow, as I did Michael came up behind me and bit me on the ass
and wouldn't let go. It was unbelievable I jumped and hollered and leapt
around the room but he wouldn't let go. It took Jack and Johnny and a
couple of waiters to get him off of me and I don't know why, he just
thought it was funny, and when it stopped hurting I laughed too. Mike
was barred for that but I managed to get him reinstated and the next
afternoon we drank $400 of margaritas between us.20
I remember the next morning after that we went for brunch at Joe Allens
with lady friends Mike ordered a triple Bloody Caesar with a shot of
Vodka on the side. This is Mike's favorite story at AA
Back in the mid seventies I used to own an after hours club and Mike
spent a couple of bad years drinking himself into the ground. As often
as not he would pass out in the club and I would just put a blanket over
him and leave him there. I lived over the bar and one night I wake up
with this horrible thumping through the floor. I go downstairs to find
Mike with his face stuck to the bar. He had managed to get a hold of a
pool cue and thumped it on the ceiling. I had just put in a new bar and
got this guy to put a plastic top on it. He made a mistake and the bar
top didn't set properly. Michael in his stupor crawled up on the bar and
fell asleep on it. It was quite a job to pry him loose without anymore
Mike and I had several pretty good fights. Like one night Michael and
Winston Rekert (Neon rider) went to see Willie Dixon at the El Macombo.
This is after both of them had made a couple of good movies and things
were beginning to happen for them. We had met some interesting young
ladies and wanted to party later. Well I have this very fussy friend who
had gone to Poland for a month or two and had left me the key to his
apartment. So I invited everyone back to his place which was just down
Winston had just finished a movie and was flush.. So Winston and Michel Ironside and Alberta Watson and Winston's account Jerry and I are sitting around at Jerry's drinking beer smoking dope and snorting coke. We were getting pretty crazy and we thought we should order some food. the subject of ribs came up and jerry said the best ribs in the world were from Fat Willy’s Rib Shack in Chicago. So Winston say can we get some?. Jerry got on the phone with plane tickets and taxis etc we had ribs from Fat willy's in 4 hours for about a thousand dollars or so.
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.