The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History

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Product Overview

Forword by Jim Cuddy

Format: Softcover

ISBN: 9781459734944

Toronto was a very different place when the Horseshoe Tavern opened seventy years ago, and the bar has changed along with the city. From country to rock, punk, alt/country, and back to roots, the Horseshoe has attracted the premier acts from all eras of music, and launched the careers of many of Canada's best-known artists. ©2017, 208 pages

"Like the Queen Street strip that has been its home for seven decades, the Horseshoe Tavern continues to evolve. It remains as relevant today as it did when Jack Starr founded the country club on the site of a former blacksmith shop. From country and rockabilly to rock'n'roll, punk, alt/country, and back to roots music, the venerable live music venue has evolved with the times and trends, always keeping pace with the music. Over its seventy-year history, the Horseshoe has seen a flood of talent pass through. From Willie Nelson to Loretta Lynn, Stompin' Tom Connors to the Band, and Bryan Adams to the Tragically Hip, the Horseshoe has attracted premier acts from all eras of music. In The legendary Horseshoe Tavern, David McPherson captures the turbulent life of the bar, and of Canadian rock."--

 The Horseshoe Tavern has long been the most important club in Canada, down at the corner of Queen and Spadina in Toronto. Whether it's legendary residencies from Stompin' Tom to the Rheostatics, or a super-surprise concert by the Rolling Stones, or my own band playing a string of New Year's Eve shows in that room that I will never forget, the Horseshoe is Canada's beating heart of rock 'n' roll. David McPherson's book does a brilliant job illustrating just that.--Grant Lawrence, The Smugglers

A glorious two-handed plunge into the loam of the most famous rock 'n' roll club in Canada; digging in the weeds to find the bones that find the ghosts who played there, from Hank Williams to Tom Connors to Frankie Venom to Townes Van Zandt and beyond.--Dave Bidini, author of Writing Gordon Lightfoot

The Horseshoe is one the most beloved clubs in North America. Certainly Toronto would not be the same without it. David McPherson takes us on a wonderful journey that shows the reader why the club is called the Legendary Horseshoe and where those legends came from.--Bernie Finkelstein, founder True North Records and manager, Bruce Cockburn
There are stories aplenty but the book has been tightly edited so the true music fan's only criticism is that they might wish for even more.--Penguin Eggs Magazine
McPherson's dexterous unearthing of some of The Horseshoe Tavern's history is most welcome.--The Country Standard Time

Pays serious homage to a venue we can only hope will be around far beyond the 70 years it has already lived.--Spill Magazine

Whether your interest is music, history or nostalgia, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern is worth reading.--Toronto Sun

Nostalgia trip for those who were there, and an intriguing primer for those who weren't.--Exclaim!

Over the years, Toronto has had its fair share of legendary clubs including the El Mocambo, the Colonial Tavern, the Matador and the Riverboat. Arguably, none of these are important as the Horseshoe Tavern. Open since 1947, the Horseshoe started as a country bar, for a short while was at the center of Toronto's punk scene and for the past 35 years has booked a plethora of eclectic up and coming Canadian and international acts, many of whom have gone on to become superstars. On the eve of its 70th birthday, author David McPherson finally tells the fabled club's story.--Rob Bowman, Grammy Award-winning author and professor

At a time when music venues are under attack by gentrification and development, the Horseshoe remains immortal. I've long wondered what those checkerboard floors would say if they could talk. Now they can.--Alan Cross, internationally renowned radio broadcaster and music writer

The definitive history of the venue from its original owner, Jack Starr, through all its various incarnations, owners, and bookers and their families, up to the present day.--Penguin Eggs

In 1986, moving from Montreal, between late nights at Rock 'N' Roll Heaven and equally late nights at the Horseshoe Tavern, my initiation into the Toronto music scene began. David McPherson has encapsulated that remarkable feeling of what the 'Shoe brought to me and countless other rabid music fans; fans that knew that it was almost as much the spirit of the venue as it was the live music you saw there that made the 'Shoe the legend that it is.--Steve Anthony, CP24 Breakfast co-host

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Jim Cuddy

1. The Outsider
2. Nashville North
3. Tom's Stompin' Grounds
4. The Garys Shake Things Up
5. The Show Hank Williams Never Gave
6. The 'Shoe Rises Again
7. Rockabilly and a Roots Rock Revival
8. The Early Nineties
9. Secret Shows
10. Tales from the Bar
11. Ushering In a New Era

Afterword: The Next Seventy Years Are Anyone's Guess
Image Credits
About the Author

David McPherson is a regular contributor to Words + Music, Hamilton Magazine, and No Depression. Over the years his writing on music has also appeared in Paste, American Songwriter, Canadian Musician, Exclaim!, and at He lives in Waterloo, Ontario.

Jim Cuddy is a Canadian singer-songwriter primarily associated with the band Blue Rodeo. He attended North Toronto Collegiate Institute, where he met and befriended Greg Keelor, his future bandmate. He also went to Upper Canada College and Queen's University. Cuddy was born in Toronto, Ontario.