Yonge Street Music History Murals – Part II

2022 - Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles are located on a building at 423 Yonge St. The 13 iconic musicians on the south-facing mural include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Jay Douglas, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH, Dizzy Gillespie, Kim Mitchell, Carol Pope, Cathy Young, Jon & Lee and The Five Rogues
2022 – Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles are located on a building at 423 Yonge St

The History of Music on Yonge Street murals are located on the south and north sides of a 22-storey building located at 423 Yonge St (north of Gerrard St E, between McGill St and Granby St) in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto.

This article focuses on the south-facing mural at McGill St, commemorating the musicians and the places that influenced Yonge Street’s world-class music scene from the 1960s to the 1980s. The vibrant 70 m tall murals were created by artist Adrian Hayles and presented by the Downtown Yonge BIA.

The Musicians & Venues

The south-facing mural was completed in 2017 and features 13 musicians and six Yonge Street locations (from top to bottom, then left to right):

2020 - Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. Out of the 13 musicians on the mural, seven are visible and include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH and Dizzy Gillespie
2020 – Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St

The Band is pictured from the group’s 1969 self-titled The Band album cover. They were previously known as The Hawk’s (backing Ronnie Hawkins), then later as Levon and the Hawks. In 1965, when Bob Dylan came to see them perform at the former Friar’s Tavern, he asked the local stars to rehearse with him. The rest is music history. Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm went on to back Dylan on his first tour with an electric band. Levon and the Hawks later gained international stardom as The Band. In the mural, they are shown in front of the iconic Masonic Temple façade.

David Clayton-Thomas is depicted singing into the mic. He and his band, The Shays, were a popular high-energy group performing at the former Friar’s Tavern. David Clayton-Thomas later became the lead singer of the American jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Lonnie Johnson is shown playing his guitar. The New Orlean’s-born blues and jazz musician was a favourite at the former Steele’s Tavern. A local newspaper article mentioned bartenders would leave their customers and the cash register to see Lonnie Johnson perform and that patrons would hang on his every note.

Jay Douglas, pictured singing into a mic, was a vocalist with the popular Toronto band The Cougars. They played a mix of reggae, soul and R&B at former Yonge Street venues, including Club Jamaica, the Hawk’s Nest and Le Coq d’Or Tavern.

Salome Bey, shown singing, is known as “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues.” The New Jersey-born singer-songwriter-composer played in several clubs in the Downtown Yonge area, including the former Colonial Tavern as well as selling-out Massey Hall.

Goddo is depicted in front of the neon Gasworks sign. Greg Godovitz led the heavy rock trio that formed in Scarborough. They played high-energy sets at former venues like the Piccadilly Tube, Gasworks and Nickelodeon.

RUSH is pictured next to the A&A Records sign. Formed in Toronto, the rock trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart performed at the Piccadilly Tube, the Colonial Tavern, Gasworks and Maple Leaf Gardens. The Canadian superstars went on to sell 40 million records worldwide.

Dizzy Gillespie is shown playing his trumpet next to the Piccadilly Tube sign. The talented American-born jazz and bebop legend played at Massey Hall and the former Friar’s Tavern.

Kim Mitchell is seen holding his guitar and wearing an OPP trucker hat. The Canadian rocker was the lead singer and guitarist of Max Webster before moving on to a solo career. Venues he performed at include Piccadilly Tube, Gasworks and Maple Leaf Gardens.

Carole Pope is depicted beside the Brown Derby Tavern sign. The anti-diva with a powerful voice Carole Pope was the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Rough Trade. Yonge Street clubs the group performed at include the Colonial Tavern and Gasworks.

Cathy Young is pictured standing next to her guitar from her 1969 A Spoonful Of Cathy Young album cover. The Toronto-born folk and rock artist performed at The Rock Pile. In the mural, Cathy Young is shown in front of the Steele’s Tavern sign.

Jon & Lee from The Checkmates are shown performing. The soul-singing duo and their band, which formed at a local high school in 1963, were one of the hottest acts in Toronto. They played the stages of Massey Hall, the former Friar’s Tavern, and the Hawk’s Nest.

The Five Rogues are depicted performing in their striped suits. Originating in Toronto, The Five Rogues were a soul and R&B, later known as Mandala, that performed at Club 888 along with the former Club Bluenote dance hall and the Hawk’s Nest.

Notice the large vintage mic at the bottom of the mural is a map of the Downtown Yonge area.

Out of all the venues mentioned above, the only two in operation today are Massey Hall and The Concert Hall at the Masonic Temple (once known as Club 888 and The Rock Pile).

Did You Know?

2021 - Domenic Troiano's Mandala jacket tailored by Lou Myles in 1968, displayed at Friar's Music Museum
2021 – Domenic Troiano’s Mandala jacket tailored by Lou Myles in 1968, displayed at Friar’s Music Museum
  • Toronto’s Yonge Street once had more new and used record stores per block than anywhere else. They included Sam the Record Man, A&A Records, Music World, Tower Records, the Vinyl Museum, Sunrise Records, Shopper’s Record & Tape Mart, Millwheel Records, Cheapies, Records On Wheels and Record Bar.
  • Radio stations CHUM and CKEY published weekly charts ranking the top songs and albums. The charts could be picked up at the record stores.
  • The matching three-piece suits that Toronto bands like Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks wore in the 1950s and 60s were made by the Yonge Street tailors Cy Mann or Lou Myles. During the psychedelic era in the mid-1960s, The Five Rogues changed their name to Mandala. Then, they traded their traditional pin-stripe suits for ones with more colourful and broader stripes.

Yonge Street Music History Mural & Venue Photos

2022 - Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles are located on a building at 423 Yonge St. The 13 musicians on the south-facing mural include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Jay Douglas, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH, Dizzy Gillespie, Kim Mitchell, Carol Pope, Cathy Young, Jon & Lee and The Five Rogues
2022 – Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles are located on a building at 423 Yonge St. The 13 musicians on the south-facing mural include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Jay Douglas, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH, Dizzy Gillespie, Kim Mitchell, Carol Pope, Cathy Young, Jon & Lee and The Five Rogues
2022 - Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. The 13 musicians on the mural are (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Jay Douglas, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH, Dizzy Gillespie, Kim Mitchell, Carol Pope, Cathy Young, Jon & Lee and The Five Rogues. Notice The McGill Street Arch at the bottom of the photo
2022 – Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. The 13 musicians on the mural are (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Jay Douglas, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH, Dizzy Gillespie, Kim Mitchell, Carol Pope, Cathy Young, Jon & Lee and The Five Rogues. Notice The McGill Street Arch at the bottom of the photo
2022 - The vintage microphone on the Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles is actually a map of the Downtown Yonge area
2022 – The vintage microphone on the Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles is actually a map of the Downtown Yonge area
2022 - One of the two 22-storey Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles located at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. The south-facing mural commemorates the stars and places that influenced Yonge Street’s world-class music scene from the 1960s to the 1980s
2022 – One of the two 22-storey Yonge Street Music History murals by Adrian Hayles located at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. The south-facing mural commemorates the stars and places that influenced Yonge Street’s world-class music scene from the 1960s to the 1980s
2022 - The History of Music on Yonge Street II plaque and flower garden is located in a walkway between Yonge St and McGill St, north of Gerrard St E
2022 – The History of Music on Yonge Street II plaque and flower garden is located in a walkway between Yonge St and McGill St, north of Gerrard St E
2022 - History of Music on Yonge Street II plaque. The mural was presented by artist Adrian Hayles and the Downtown Yonge BIA
2022 – History of Music on Yonge Street II plaque. The mural was presented by artist Adrian Hayles and the Downtown Yonge BIA
2020 - Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. Out of the 13 musicians on the mural, seven are visible and include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH and Dizzy Gillespie. Notice The McGill Street Arch at the bottom of the photo
2020 – Looking northeast towards the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural by Adrian Hayles located on a building at 423 Yonge St and McGill St. Out of the 13 musicians on the mural, seven are visible and include (from top to bottom, then left to right) The Band, David Clayton-Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Salome Bey, Goddo, RUSH and Dizzy Gillespie. Notice The McGill Street Arch at the bottom of the photo
1970 - Looking northeast towards 423 Yonge St. In 2017, artist Adrian Hayles painted the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural on the 22-storey building
1970 – Looking northeast towards 423 Yonge St. In 2017, artist Adrian Hayles painted the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural on the 22-storey building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 3, item 2)
1971 – Looking northeast towards the Brown Derby Tavern, once located at 311-313 Yonge St and Dundas St E. Brown Derby Tavern's sign is pictured on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
1971 – Looking northeast towards the Brown Derby Tavern, once located at 311-313 Yonge St and Dundas St E. Brown Derby Tavern’s sign is pictured on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 4, Item 1)
1975 - Looking southwest towards the Piccadilly Tube Restaurant and Tavern, once located at 316 Yonge St, north of Dundas St W. Its sign appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
1975 – Looking southwest towards the Piccadilly Tube Restaurant and Tavern, once located at 316 Yonge St, north of Dundas St W. Its sign appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 84, Item 69)
Between 1977 and 1983 – Steele's Tavern was once located at 349 Yonge St. Its sign is shown on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
Between 1977 and 1983 – Steele’s Tavern was once located at 349 Yonge St. Its sign is shown on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 612, Item 7)
1980s – Looking east from Elm St towards A&A Records & Tapes, Thrifty’s and Sam the Record Man on Yonge St. A&A's sign is depicted on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
1980s – Looking east from Elm St towards A&A Records & Tapes, Thrifty’s and Sam the Record Man on Yonge St. A&A’s sign is depicted on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 20, Item 23)
2020 – The Gasworks was once located at 579 Yonge St and Dundonald St, just north of Wellesley St E. The Gasworks sign appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
2020 – The Gasworks was once located at 579 Yonge St and Dundonald St, just north of Wellesley St E. The Gasworks sign appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
2021 – The Masonic Temple at 888 Yonge St and Davenport Rd on the northwest corner was previously known as Club 888 and The Rock Pile. The Masonic Temple's iconic corner appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
2021 – The Masonic Temple at 888 Yonge St and Davenport Rd on the northwest corner was previously known as Club 888 and The Rock Pile. The Masonic Temple’s iconic corner appears on the south-facing Yonge Street Music History mural
July 19, 1965 – David Clayton-Thomas performing on stage at Friar's Tavern, flanked by go-go dancers
July 19, 1965 – David Clayton-Thomas performing on stage at Friar’s Tavern, flanked by go-go dancers (York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC08132)
2021 - Domenic Troiano's Mandala jacket tailored by Lou Myles in 1968, displayed at Friar's Music Museum
2021 – Domenic Troiano’s Mandala jacket tailored by Lou Myles in 1968, displayed at Friar’s Music Museum
2021 - The Yonge Street Strip map by J Sherman displayed at the Friar’s Music Museum
2021 – The Yonge Street Strip map by J Sherman displayed at the Friar’s Music Museum
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