DR. HOOK AND ME--
A Fan's Journal/Scrapbook
Concerts in Toronto, Mid-70s, Early 80s
I was lucky to be living in Toronto during those years because Ray and “the rest of the fellas” played there quite often and I attended as many concerts as I could.
The most memorable gig for me was a night in 1974 at the El Mocambo on Spadina Avenue. The El Mo, as it was affectionately called, was an old three-story building, within a long row of buildings. It was set up as a nightclub in the 1940s and started playing blues and rock 'n' roll in 1972. Out in front was the original cheesy neon sign in the shape of a palm tree with the words El Mocambo (which means road house) running vertically down the tree trunk. This was THE place to be, THE venue for live music in Toronto in the late '70s. The ground floor provided competition to the Silver Dollar Room and Grossman's Tavern. Both of these clubs were located a block on either side of the El Mo. If a band was really good (i.e. brought in the money), they would graduate from playing on the first floor and be asked to play upstairs on the second. The most famous act to play on the second floor was the Rolling Stones in 1977. The Prime Minister's wife, Margaret Trudeau, was there that night, dancing to the music. The concert was recorded and later released as the Stones' “Love You Live” album. Many other bands recorded their concerts there too and put out albums, usually called “Live at the El Mocambo”. It was here that I finally got to meet my heartthrob in person.
As usual, a group of us were seated at a large table in front of the stage. Sitting beside me were a couple of guys I didn’t know. One of them had a Polaroid camera which took and developed photos on the spot. During one of the band breaks, I asked him if he would take a photo of Ray for me. In return, I would give him all the money I had with me—$5.00. This was a pretty good fee (at that time) for one photo! He agreed and we went upstairs to the hall outside the dressing room.
We asked the roadie standing in the hall if he would go into the dressing room and ask Ray if he would mind having his picture taken. He went in and a couple of minutes later Ray came out. He did all the talking because I was stunned—a deer caught in the headlights would best describe me. Ray grabbed my hand and pulled me over to him, put his arm around me and posed for the picture. My heart was pounding so hard I could barely breathe. Afterwards, I patted him on the front of the shoulder and said “Thanks, Ray”, which was about the only thing I could choke out. Mannnn—that $5.00 was well spent! I was only hoping for a picture of Ray, but he got me in it too—“cheek to cheek” with The Man! What a night!
Dominique Petersen is a graphic designer living in St. Thomas, Ontario, and is the author of Dr. Hook and Me: A Fan's Journal/Scrapbook.