Monday, March 13, 2017

Leonard Cohen

    My short Friendship with Leonard Cohen
This was in 1979 I had just quit the booze can biz and was transgressing into the Movie biz.
The Club 22 at the Windsor Arms was my principle milieu. I was at home there comfortable and confident.
I came in one evening and not seeing any friends I got a drink at the bar. in a glance around the room There was Leonard sitting by himself and nursing a drink at a nearby table. my milieu what the hell, I walked over "hey Leonard I'm Gary LeDrew, I am a friend of Lesley McDonnell she talks a lot about you. Leonard's eyes lit up. "The beautiful Lesley. have you seen here lately" "Not much since she married that St. Nicholas guy. "I say. I sat down and after a mutual admiration of Lesley conversation our talk drifted to other things. I was born in Montreal and gave my brief history there. He told me he was in town for an opening at an Art Gallery on Dundas St., and that the Artist had painted pictures of some of his released songs and he had to go. We drank pretty much till closing time covering a lot of subjects from gossip to philosophy. he said he had some meetings the next day but we would meet later. 
The next day I got a surprise phone call from my ex-wife. She had not let me see my daughter in 5 years and I had lost contact completely. She had broken up with guy she said was responsible for the ban and if I wanted I could pick her up the next evening if I took her sister as well. Sarah was now seven and Shaleen was four. I was ecstatic.
Leonard was emerging as a star about this time with  3 records and a tour. He still seemed a bit shy, he wasn't that comfortable in Toronto and had no friends around at that time. We had a very comfortable few hours of drinking and talking and he invited me to the opening the next night. I explained I couldn't go and why. Leonard was insistent "look man I really need you to go. I really don’t know anybody there and frankly the whole thing is a bit embarrassing. I need the support and you at least know the art scene. I protested that I hadn't seen my daughter in 5 years. So bring them I’ll take care of it.
So i showed up the next night with Sarah and Shalleen. We drank a lot of wine the kids tore around the Gallery with Leonard’s blessing. i dont remember the art I don’t think I was not too impressed and Leonard was polite  in a couple of interviews but soon drank more wine and was terrific with the kids. Somewhere there is videotape of Leonard with Sarah in one arm and Shaleen in the other one with a glass of wine too.
I got the kids home happy and made arrangement to take them out on Sunday.
I got to see Leonard for a bit the next day and a few drinks before he caught the train to Montreal. As was usual for me then I never thought to get phone numbers etc. (i always just expected to see people) As it happened I had to move back to Uxbridge for a bit when I got back to the 22 i was told Leonard had asked about me a few times but I never did see him again. i managed to get a message to him when he went through here on tour but he didn't reply after all it was 40 years before.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nick Auf der Maur and Michael Sarrazin

Nick Auf der Maur and Michael Sarrazin

Michael and I became friends at the pilot tavern about 65 or 66 just before he became a hollywood star. We were friends for many years and even made a movie together 'Double Negative' We got together any times. My favourite memory might be when he was dating Jacqueline Bisset he brought her to Toronto for Robert Markle's huge birthday party at the masonic hall. They got into a fight and as one of the few people she knew I got to dance with her most of the night stoned on acid.

I had no idea he was friends with Nick

Nick had a membership in my booze can and often came to Toronto for the weekend.

He came to my bar a half a dozen times.I guess I was his secret hideaway. I wish I had more to say but he was intelligent and engaging and I was always glad to see him and enjoyed talking to him. I was very surprised when I found out who he was and very sad when he died so young.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Elizabeth Ashley

I used to hang out with Elizabeth, We were great friends. Eating at the underground railroad and drinking at the 22. She usually stayed at the Windsor Arms. We would ride around in her limousine supplied by the movie company smoking weed and snorting you know what. She was married to a buddy of mine so we were mainly friends came close a couple of times. She got in trouble over a couple of late nights with me that night I ended up when everybody left lying on her belly while she shoved cocaine up my nose. I have trouble telling that one.
. I wasn't exactly heartbroken when she broke up with my buddy but I was when she got busted at the border and could't come to Canada anymore. Anyway this is a good article she is a brainy broad and a lot of good lines . we laughed a lot. Elizabeth and I hung out quite a bit.


Donnie Downchild
Photo by John Radcliff

I was one of the early habitues of Grossman's I became great friends with Al
and he let me make and sell my Grossman's Tshirts (I made up to $300 a week off them)
One of the first articles Richard Flohill wrote was for the Toronto Star Weekend. It was about Grossman's but he interviewed me so it ended up mostly about me and my Tshirt etc.

I dont really remember when Downchild showed up, It seems like they were always there.
They were a fun band to know and hang with and Donnie would play anything you wanted for a shot of Jameson's Scotch.
I organized a small baseball league Grossman's, Pilot, Paramount, Vagabonds and anybody else that would play us. I did this for fun and to sell T-shirts. This was the 60's and I umpired in a dashiki and wearing a Fez.I usually smoked quite a bit of reefer before the game to keep me calm and slow the ball down. I remember Donnie sitting in the outfield with a dixie cup full of jamisons. "Pop Up! Donnie someone yells" he carefully plants his drink and lurches to feet slipping and sliding in his leather soled cowboy boots looking for his mitt. Somebody retrieved the ball and he sat down again. It was not unusal to have Kid Bastien's marching band take the field in between innings. I remember Donnie playing at Krash's studio for the season baseball party until his fingers were bleeding.

Tommy Hunter Ann Murray and Bill Bessey

Back in the sixties Bill Bessie was a CBC announcer. He was a general joe job announcer except he had a tv show Saturday mornings. It was called the Cousin Bill Show and it played Country music and showed completely unrelated movies of cows. Somehow it became a favorite of a bunch of us hippie artist types.
 A little later I was sort of  managing Duke Redbird and He had an appearance reciting poetry on the Tommy Hunter Show.

It happened to be the first TV show Anne Murray was on in Toronto.
So Duke and Tommy and his producer(whats his name the guy that married Anne and shaped her career?) Anyway we are walking down the hallway to the main studio
When Bill Bessie came skulking along. he was really trying to sneak by this star group unnoticed.
I couldn't resist. I shouted like a crazed fan." Wow! Cousin Bill! Hey look everybody
 It's cousin Bill. I don't Believe It. He's my favorite TV Star". I ran over and got him to autograph something while the others waited for me in complete amazement. I loved it and I sure hope Bill did.

Berkeley Breathed

Berkeley Breathed

I met Berkeley Breathed at the opening party for his screensaver in Las Vegas in 1993. it was at a hotel cottage type thing. About 50 people all ad men, promoters and other 'suits' and a dozen or so gorgeous models. Berkeley had not much interest in any of them and either did I . i was there for the week at the computer show and was glitzed out. Anyhoo Berkley and I chatted for an hour or so and quaffed a few nice cold beers. I remember him as sort of nicely outre that would come across as standoffish but we had a pleasant was not long after this he went into a self imposed exhile.

Beau Chorney and The Colonial

I had a friend Beau Chorney who I met through Ratch Wallace. We were social friends for a few years and he came to my club a few times. He had 3 gold seats at Maple leaf Gardens which he let me have 4 or 5 times a year. So after I closed my first club. I had a couple of meetings with him and his lawyer for lunch.
One meeting was at a greek restaurant on Market St. that had a belly dancer. Beau had a special table almost in the middle of the dance floor.
He was insisting that I try octopus. What he didn't see was that the sweating belly dancer had swung her arm across our table and a ball of sweat had rolled down her arm and dropped onto the octopus.
I of course refused and so thought I was afraid to eat octopus which is not true.
Any how the meeting was about that he had just bought the Colonial and wanted me to manage it.He also bought the four seasons hotel and as part of the deal I was to get a small suite there as well.
I also went to dinner one night with his lawyer at Fridays. The dinner was with his some of his clients. Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard and Frank and Peter Mahovlich. Peter was late he had just bought a rolls royce and he pulled up and we all went out to the street to see it. When he opened the door a Heiniken bottle fell out.
Anyway shortly after Beau called said the deal was through and I was to go down to the Colonial and meet a man and tell him I was the new manager and he would be down later. so I go down and go in the office where there is a group of very serious looking men are going through the files. I asked for my contact and told them I was the new manager per mr Chorney. I was told briskly Well that didn't happen.
I never saw Beau again. His phone was disconnected. His lawyer promised to get back to me didn't happen. I have no idea what happened if it was a hoax I don't know why. I asked Ratch and he never saw him again either.

Leonard Cohen

      My short Friendship with Leonard Cohen This was in 1979 I had just quit the booze can biz and was transgressing into the Movie b...