Saturday, 26 January 2008

Gordon Lightfoot ad

The Gordon Lightfoot Massey Hall concert ad in Friday's Toronto Sun sparked a memorable 1970s flashback.

The Massey Hall booking for four days in May is, in itself, a tribute to the iconic Canadian singer/songwriter, who has been singing in public since he was five.

Our flashback is to October 1970, when Lightfoot performed at several sold-out concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, B.C.

It was opening night and a couple of minutes before the lights went down, Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel slid into seats beside this Richmond Review entertainment reporter.

Nicholson, still enjoying the limelight from his Easy Rider role, and Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel fame, were all smiles as Lightfoot walked on stage.

The audience settled in for an evening of Lightfoot music and little banter because he was not known to talk a lot on stage. This night was different.

Lightfoot talked a lot and the more he talked, the more the audience got the impression this Orillia-born performer was tired of the road

Was this it for Lightfoot? His swan song at the early age of 31? Sure sounded like it.

Perhaps his mood that night was the result of early symptoms of Bell's Palsy, a partial facial paralysis first noticed during a March 1972 Massey Hall concert. It kept him off the road for a few months.

Fortunately, for fans and Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and numerous other artists who would perform his songs, Lightfoot didn't call it quits in 1970 or 1972.

And here he is, almost four decades and numerous music awards and honours later, still sharing himself and his talent.

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. turns 70 on Nov. 17, and if you could read the minds of admirers, Orillia and all of Canada will be holding one huge firecracker birthday party for this Hall of Famer.

For a taste of 1970s Lightfoot, former Richmond Review colleague Rick McGrath has an online 1970 interview with Gordon from his Georgia Straight days.

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