Raggedy handbill, 1976; courtesy of Robert Malyon.
Smoking a joint in the back row of his movie theatre The New Yorker, watching the out-of-synch Blank Generation, promoter Gary Topp twigged on the idea of bringing some of the bands from Amos Poe’s movie into town. It was 1976. When he tried to track down The Ramones, few people in the business knew who they were.
Photo by David Andoff.
A concrete stage was built in a few 18 hour shifts over the course of a weekend; artist David Andoff sculpted a King Kong and painted a NYC nightscape above the marquee – and “punk rock” officially arrived in Toronto on September 24, 1976 with Johnny Lovesin & His Invisible Band opening for New York City’s The Ramones.
Two years later, Gary would be long gone from the New Yorker, having had moved to the beer-soaked Horseshoe Tavern with partner Gary Cormier; together they were known as The Garys. On December 1, 1978, The Garys promoted The Last Pogo, the going-away party for their favourite local bands; they were being kicked out, and the bar would revert to it’s country ‘n’ western roots for a spell. The Scenics, The Cardboard Brains, The Ugly, The Secrets, Teenage Head, and The Mods were set to play the historic gig.
Steven Leckie at The Last Pogo. Photo by Edie Stiener.
Reluctant to join in at first, Steven Leckie ended up crashing the party with his latest version of his ground-breaking Viletones. And all hell broke loose. It was captured on film, recorded for an album — and then forgotten for years. This is the specific time period we’re zeroing in on for our sprawling documentary The Last Pogo Jumps Again: A Biased & Incomplete History Of Toronto Punk Rock Circa September 24 1976 To December 1 1978.