There was an all-star musical tribute to the one and only John Lennon Beatle/painter/music icon, at Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse in Toronto on Sunday, December 9, 2007. This is the second great Lennon Tribute show this writer has attended, hosted by all-time Beatle fan and rock/blues artist extraordinaire Greg Godovitz (Goddo/ex-Ronnie Hawkins). This show also featured Godovitz's Rock Talk radio program broadcast live on CFRB 1010 AM from Healey’s Roadhouse, prior to the concert.
Godovitz and co-host/sidekick/keyboard player Bob Reid in this special edition of their weekly Rock Talk show, featured Canadian folk icon Murray McLauchlan in interview, talking about John Lennon, his music, and how it affected and influenced McLauchlan while growing up. Nick Sinopoli and David Love of The Carpet Frogs, were also interviewed, and shared some rare memories of growing up listening to and playing Lennon/Beatle songs in their formative years. Sinopoli and Love are also members of the Bachman-Cummings Band (Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings), and back them on their current Jukebox CD and promotional tour.
Stephen Fearing, guitarist with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings was also interviewed on this special edition of Rock Talk, and like the others had some special memories of growing up listening to Lennon songs, and learning them.
Also on hand for this Lennon celebration in words and music was Styx band member Lawrence Gowan, who also shared equally engrossing recollections of John Lennon and his influence on him as a kid, while growing up in Toronto.
Godovitz also announced the sad news of Barry Harvey’s recent passing from a sudden heart attack that came on too fast for medical help to arrive. Harvey was business manager for Gordon Lightfoot for 25 years. Years before working with Lightfoot, Harvey was a roadie in Godovitz’s band, and had remained a good friend with him all those decades since then. Harvey’s passing was a great shock for everyone who knew him, including this writer.
During Rock Talk intermissions and afterwards, the Healey’s Roadhouse audience had a very special musical treat in store for them.
Godovitz was featured earlier in the show, singing some of his favorite Lennon songs, including a deeply moving "Stawberrry Fields". He was accompanied on keyboards by Chris Dale, on a rare instrument called a Mellotron. According to Dale, "Paul McCartney also owns one of these rarities, and played it on some Beatles albums." Dale is also an accomplished Theremin player. (This is the instrument we hear playing the eerie sounds in ‘40s and ‘50s horror flicks, and the intro to the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations". Maybe we can save that one for Halloween!) Backing him and the others onstage was longtime Godovitz bassman Mike Pellarin.
Stephen Fearing sang lead vocals and played guitar on a great version of "Nowhere Man".
Although all performers were outstanding, playing off each others’ imaginations in truly rare, never to be repeated renditions of Lennon songs, this writer’s favorite had to be the super-rare onstage appearance by Murray McLauchlan singing some of his fave Lennon compositions, including an absolutely riveting version of "Revolution". He also sang rousing versions of "You Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "Help", from the 1964 Beatle movie Help!
McLauchlan added some musical comic relief to the proceedings when he went into a few instrumental bars of his most familiar composition, "Farmer’s Song" a big hit for him in ’73, when Lennon’s "Mind Games" was on the charts.
Ed Pilling, Godovitz’s band mate and longtime friend since they were both in Fludd together with their hit "Cousin Mary" (which still gets lots of airplay worldwide), sang ballistic versions of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and "Bad Boy", from Lennon’s earliest ‘rebellion’ days of Beatlemania.
To see so many great players all on one stage at the same time, or in various mixtures of artists jamming Lennon songs with each other, is a completely exhilarating experience.
Tony Nolasco, drummer and vocalist in ‘60s Toronto Sound/Yorkville blues band Mainline and his present blues incarnation The Fullertons, was in the audience, and really enjoying the show. Unfortunately he didn’t get up onstage to sing or sit in on drums. This musical oversight and the noticeable absence of singer/radio host Bob Segarini’s presence with his clear as a bell lead and background vocal talent, were the only things this writer noticed could have taken this otherwise perfect show over the top, even more than it already was!
Part way through, Godovitz joined the audience up front, and looked like a kid at Christmas along with his lady Stella, while soaking up the good vibes onstage from McLauchlan and all the other extremely talented artists giving it their all, in one Lennon tune after another.
Towards the end of this spectacular evening’s entertainment, Lawrence Gowan sat down at the piano and sang and played a beautiful solo version of Lennon’s "Imagine". You could hear a pin drop as the silent audience watched in dumbfounded reverence and appreciation of Gowan’s performance.
The finale saw everyone who performed at this very special Lennon Tribute, get up onstage and right into singing and playing "Twist and Shout". Almost everyone took lead vocals at times, and bounced lead vocals and guitar, bass and piano solos off one another. This unbelievably good ending to this night’s thoroughly enjoyable entertainment, left the audience feeling like they were walking on air, from the special 'magic' that was and still is the music of John Lennon: Beatle, artist/composer/painter and music revolutionary and visionary!