The Horseshoe Tavern has been a fixture of the Toronto music scene for 70 years now, playing host to everyone from Willie Nelson to Stompin’ Tom Connors, Loretta Lynn, Blue Rodeo, the Tragically Hip and the Rolling Stones. The walls of the joint can’t talk, but others can and did to David McPherson, author of The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History, a colourful and meticulous account of the iconic venue. The Globe and Mail spoke to the veteran journalist at – where else? – the ‘Shoe.
When people talk about the legacy of the Horseshoe Tavern, the history tends to begin with Stompin’ Tom Connors in the 1960s and seventies. But it began before that, with an international reputation, right?
It did. When they first brought music in here, it slowly became the spot for a lot of Nashville artists. Before Stompin’ Tom ever played the Horseshoe, he knew it was the place he wanted to play. He kept bugging the owner, Jack Starr, until he finally got his chance to get in here. So, yes, the reputation preceded Stompin’ Tom.