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The Toronto Sound is the characteristic R&B sound from the years 1964–69 which was a major progenitor of American Rock in the 1970s. Its components are the Fender Telecaster guitar, Fender Precision bass, New Orleans-style drumming, a dominant Hammond organ, and soul singing. Bands typically presented full shows complete with choreography a la James Brown & the Famous Flames, and a matching wardrobe (cf. Mandala). Popular tunes were uniquely arranged by Toronto musicians, devotees of the Stax and Motown labels, and customized according to the will of the given bandleader. This sound came to influence many performers, including Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, and Steppenwolf.

Musicians typically played in two areas of Toronto. The first was Yorkville, now an upscale shopping district, but then a centre for entertainment. Coffeehouses expanded into live venues as listed below. The second area was Yonge Street between King St. and Bloor.

Principal Musicians and Bands Responsible for Creating the Toronto Sound

David Clayton Thomas, Domenic Troiano, the Five Rogues/Mandala/Bush, George Olliver and the Soul Children, Eric Mercury, Diane Brooks and the Soul Searchers, Grant Smith & The Power, Steppenwolf (originating as Jack London and the Sparrows), Rick James, The Mynah Birds (including Neil Young and Rick James), Jackie Shane (a cousin of Little Richard), Eugene Smith and the Imperials, Shawne and Jay Jackson and the Majestics, Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks (who became The Band), Robbie Lane and the Disciples, Jackie Gabriel, Jack Harden and the Silhouettes, RK and the Associates, Jon and Lee & The Checkmates, who became Rhinoceros, Luke & The Apostles, and, later, Prakash John and the Lincolns. The James Stafford Set called The Chad Noir home as The Ugly Ducklings called Charlie Brown's theirs.

Clubs in which the Toronto Sound was developed

In Yorkville: The Riverboat; The Purple Onion; The Devil's Den; El Patio; The Penny Farthing; The Mynah Bird; Chez Monique; The Embassy Tavern; Boris's; and The Flick, most of which were overgrown coffee houses. On Yonge Street from Bloor to King Street: Le Coq d'Or (with The Hawk's Nest above it); The Colonial Tavern; The Sapphire; Club Blue Note; The Zanzibar; and Club 888, which became The Rockpile in 1968.




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