Canadian Popular Culture: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Figure 1.--

A Canadian reader tells us about Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. In terms of pop culture, Canada was largely an extension of America.

Oh wow, I can't even think of where to begin on this subject. One thing I do know that here in Canada or at least here in Montreal, Black groups and musicians were more widely accepted and enjoyed by the masses of music lovers. From the 1940s to the 1960s two of the hottest clubs in Montreal to get into were mostly where Black musicians were playing what much of America and some parts of Canada referred to as that "Coloured music".

I got involved in the music business in 1969 at the height of the "Hippie Movement" and can attest that the phrase "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll" was very true. While involved I could not help but notice that there were always plenty of young ladies who would do any thing with any one to get in with a band. Drugs of all types were like an epidemic in the way they were spread around so openly. Yes I did my share until I straightened myself out in 1980. During that time I saw all types of people who the public would not expect to be users doing drugs. Politicians, lawyers including Prosecutors, and even cops in uniform.

One difference that I can attest to was the difference in police action around rock clubs or shows. In Canada (Montreal) there were very few shows or clubs where the police would try and keep a tight control while at many clubs or events I was at in America there were always a heavy police presence claiming they were there to keep a lid on things but were also very intimidating. In Canada I met many times with various rock entertainers both the famous and the unknowns who were amazed at the openness of drug use and I will always remember one guitarist from Texas who was in a panic over seeing one joint being passed around because he claimed back home there were judges ready to give life sentences to even first time offenders caught with just one joint.

Honestly much of those years are just a blur of memories except for some special moments that I will not talk about because of what might have been happening or who was involved.

Another thing to think about was the attitude in the general public back then compared to today. One story I will mention is something I would not try today even if I was in my 20s again. A band that had hired me to photograph in a club about 75 miles NE of Montreal asked a favour if I can pick up one of their guitarist's guitars that had been in for repairs and was not ready when they had to leave. I went to the store and just mentioned who I was picking the guitar up for and with out asking for any ID or for me to pay for the repairs gave me the guitar. This was right after work on a Friday late afternoon. I did not have a car and with all my camera equipment around my neck and shoulders and the guitar, in a case, I hitch hiked all the way there including the last driver who being French living away from Montreal and did not speak a word of English insisted on firstly to figure out which club I was going to because I had the English name of the place while he knew it by the local French name for the club and then drove me a good twenty miles out of his way to get me to the front door of the club. All because he saw me as a part of the R&R culture and wanted to help as much as he could. Today if some one would try that even here in Canada there is a good chance you would be robbed and possibly killed.


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Created: 10:09 AM 7/13/2012
Last updated: 6:10 PM 7/13/2012