Music History

Sure, Woodstock happened 50 years ago, but so did a Toronto festival that helped break up The Beatles.

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

There have been plenty of 50th-anniversary commemorations this summer. The Apollo 11 moon landing. The Manson Family murders. The Stonewall Riots that gave birth to the gay liberation movement.

If we turn to music history, it was 50 years ago that The Who released Tommy. We heard of the mysterious drowning death of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones. And, of course, Woodstock.

One thing missing from this list is the Toronto festival that played a larger part in bringing The Beatles to the end: The Toronto Rock&Roll Revival, an event that happened 50 years ago on Sept. 13.

Promoters John Brower and Kenny Walker, fresh off producing a two-day event at Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto that June, were intrigued by an event held a few weeks earlier in Detroit. Billed as the First Annual Rock&Roll Revival, the gig features local heroes The Stooges and The MC5 along with Chuck Berry, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Dr. John. Could they pull off something similar in Toronto?

They set about planning the Toronto Rock&Roll Revival, focusing on booking acts from the early days of rock’n’roll. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Boo Didley, Screaming Lord Sutch, and Gene Vincent were contracted to perform. A new group called The Alice Cooper Band signed on for double duty. Not only would they get their own set, but they would act as the back-up band for Vincent. The Chicago Transit Authority (later just plain Chicago), brought some jazz-rock fusion to the bill. The Doors were brought in as headliners at great expense.

Here is a portion of Alice Cooper.

The Doors finished the night.

[Where do The Beatles in? Actually, it all had to do with John Lennon. Keep reading.]

Here’s me talking about the whole thing on Global News 640 Toronto.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38022 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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