Music Memories of Yonge
Explore Downtown Yonge’s music history with us!
Content researched and written by Nicholas Jennings.
The popular hotel featured the top names in jazz, blues, rockabilly and country music until the mid-1970s—then in 2011 arson destroyed the heritage building.
Built in 1888 at the corner of Yonge and Gould, the hotel began as the Empress and offered a glimpse of 19th century grandeur. After becoming the Edison in the 1940s, it grew as a popular live music venue, with early bookings favouring the jazz of acclaimed singer-actress Phyllis Marshall and bandleader Cab Calloway. The dawn of rockbilly and rock ’n’ roll brought the likes of Duane Eddy, Carl Perkins and Bill Haley to the Edison, which also presented Bo Diddley and a residency by dual trumpeter Frank Motley and his Motley Crew. In the 1960s, the hotel became the home of country music, featuring the likes of Ira Louvin, Tammy Wynette and pedal steel players who had a huge influence on a youngster named Daniel Lanois. The Edison closed in the mid-1970s but the building remained a landmark heritage building—until it was sadly destroyed in 2011 by arson.