Monday, May 5, 2014

The Toronto Historical Jukebox: "Honkin' At Midnight" by Frank Motley & His Motley Crew

MP3: "Honkin' At Midnight" by Frank Motley & His Motley Crew

1960s R&B from the Yonge Street strip

Frank Motley started off his career in the United States, learning to play the trumpet from jazz legend Dizzie Gillespie. And not only that: soon, he could play two trumpets at the same time. In the late 1950s, he headed north to Toronto, where he made a name for himself playing bluesy jazz and swinging R&B in downtown clubs like the Zanzibar and the Sapphire Tavern. That made him one of the pioneers of our city's very earliest rock scene, which would soon be shaking the Yonge Street strip to its foundations, earning Toronto a reputation as the hardest rocking city of its time.

"Honkin' At Midnight" may very well be Motley's greatest track, but it's far from his only memorable tune. His version of "Hound Dog" is at least as good as the version Elvis recorded — maybe even better. And when his next band — The Hitchhikers — backed singer and drag queen Jackie Shane at the Sapphire, the result was one of the best live albums Toronto has ever produced.


This is a recent post from my Toronto Historical Jukebox blog. You can check out the rest of the songs I've written about here — or any time by clicking the Jukebox tab on the menu at the top of this blog.

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