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Massey Hall memories: Legendary musicians on why playing there meant 'you've arrived'

June 13, 2018 8:50 PM
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Massey Hall memories: Legendary musicians on why playing there meant 'you've arrived'

'It's mixed up with so many great memories, both as a fan and a performer,' says Geddy Lee of Rush

As Tyler Stewart of the Barenaked Ladies puts it, "This is the place, man. When you've played Massey Hall, you've arrived."

"When you get on that stage, you know you're playing with the big cats. This is where history has been made in your industry. So many great shows have happened here."

When the Barenaked Ladies first played Massey Hall in 1993, they did a four-night run, breaking the record for consecutive shows by a rock band that had previously been held by Rush. The band was ecstatic when they found a gift in the dressing room from their rock heroes.

"I held onto that bottle for two hours, telling everyone 'This is from Rush! This is from Rush!'" says Ed Robertson.

Some of the live albums recorded at Massey Hall over the years, arrayed on the music hall's stage. (Greg Hobbs/CBC)

Numerous live records have been recorded at Massey Hall, some of them with a revered place in music history.

The promoters were convinced that word of mouth would be enough, but it wasn't. The gig was poorly attended. It didn't help that the date coincided with a boxing prize-fight between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott. The Jazz Society lost money on the show, and wasn't able to pay the performers.

"It was Massey Hall, you know. It was the hall that we always dreamed of playing," says Geddy Lee, standing on the empty stage and reminiscing.

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