To create an archive for one of Canada’s iconic venues, author David Binks has written and compiled That Night At Massey Hall — available for pre-orders now.
At 240 pages, this limited-edition tome is teeming with tales from Toronto’s ‘Old Lady of Shuter Street,’ including more than 1,500 contributions, and features over 500 artists — including Rush, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, U2 and The Tragically Hip.
Following a foreword from Grammy-winning musicologist Rob Bowman, Binks wastes no time before diving into Massey Hall’s 100-plus-year history: how protestors of the former USSR marked their presence, details on which artists turned up at the wrong venue, why the ‘greatest jazz concert ever’ didn’t sell out, and which show was the perfect prelude to a stint in jail.
“That Night At Massey Hall gets into who Gordon Lightfoot called with advice before their debut appearance, which performer saved an audience member’s life, and nuggets like how to secure Keith Richards’ guitar pick,” Binks shares. “These are not just stories about what happened on the stage itself, but also first visits, chance meetings, missed opportunities, first dates … And a few last ones, as well.”
Originally from Sheffield, England, and now based in Amsterdam, Binks is a retired CEO and consultant who first visited Toronto in 2000. “I developed an instant affection for Massey Hall,” he recalls. “One evening, I was reading old advertising notices in the bar area when I first had the idea to collect from people their own personal stories of their favourite nights at this fabled place.
“For Torontonians and Canadians — as well as visitors, artists, and music fans everywhere — I wanted to create a book that offered a lasting connection to our past, and to so many great memories,” he continues. “I worked over a three-year period to gather as many stories as I could from artists, audience members, and employees, all through an online submission form on the book’s website.”
The result is a beautifully designed collector’s item that, with every turn of the page, whisks readers away on an intimate and inimitable journey through time. “Because the stories were collected from those who spent time within its walls, That Night At Massey Hall is the patrons’ way of giving something back to the venue itself,” he considers. “It captures the affection and emotional connection felt towards it. There are definitely lots of fun surprises I came across. Overall, it’s a book about growing up, settling down, looking back, being inspired, and — of course — rock n’ roll.”