Yonge Street Music History Murals

I worked on a project this week that filmed in some of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Toronto, including the Carlu at Yonge and College. Across the street from the Carlu, there is a building at 423 Yonge Street with stunning 22-story murals on the north and south sides. The murals, designed by local artist Adrian Hayles, celebrate Toronto’s vibrant musical history. Let take a look.

The one on the north side was painted in 2016 and pays homage to the musicians from the 50s and 60s. It features Muddy Waters, the iconic American blues singer, who graced Yonge Street’s Colonial Tavern and performed his hit “Blow Wind Blow.”

The mural celebrates venues like Le Coq d’Or (which was located at ‪333 Yonge between Gould and Dundas Streets) and its most famous performer, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins. A focused Glenn Gould is seen playing his Steinway piano and singers Dianne Brooks and Jackie Shane are next to the Sam the Record Man sign.

It also features American blues legend B.B. King, folk music icon Gordon Lightfoot, and renowned jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. In the centre, you’ll find Shirley Matthews, who started as a switchboard operator for Bell Canada before pursuing her singing talents in Toronto. Her performances at Yonge Street’s Club Bluenote led to a recording session in New York City. That resulted in her hits “Big Town Boy” and “He Makes Me Feel So Pretty” in 1964.

The south-facing mural was painted in 2017 and showcases six Yonge Street locations and 13 performers from the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s. At the top, you can see The Band and the Masonic Temple venue at 888 Yonge Street. Below them are David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Lonnie Johnson, and Jay Douglas of the Cougars. Further down, you’ll find Goddo and Salome Bey, a singer-songwriter known as “Canada’s First Lady of Blues,” who moved from the U.S. to perform in Toronto’s jazz venues during the early 1960s.

The middle of the mural features the neon sign for A&A Records and Rush, one of the all time great rock acts. Next to the Piccadilly Tube Restaurant and Tavern sign you’ll spot Dizzy Gillespie who frequented the Town Tavern and the Colonial during the 1960s. Alongside Gillespie is Kim Mitchell and below are singer Cathy Young and Carole Pope who was lead singer of Rough Trade. Signs for the Brown Derby Tavern and Steele’s Tavern are also visible. The mural concludes with the band Mandala at the bottom center and Jon and Lee from the Checkmates on the far right.

These murals were created by Toronto artist Adrian Hayles, who brings these musical legends to life with precision and creativity.

The Yonge Street Music History murals were commissioned by the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area and are located north of Gerrard Street East between McGill Street and Granby Street at 423 Yonge Street, Toronto.

423 Yonge Street

One response to “Yonge Street Music History Murals”

  1. I am learning sooooo much about Toronto I love your site💕💕💕
    I have lived here for years but did not know all lot of the history. Great job!

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