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Music Memory - Marty Morin

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

Drummer Marty Morin played for rock bands in the '70s and ’80s. He is currently working with two bands, Classic Albums Live, who perform classic rock albums live on stage throughout North America, and The Tom Waits Appreciation Congregation. Marty shares his memories of time spent at The Imperial Room in Toronto.

"I was lucky to have a father who worked at The Royal York, that large hotel opposite Union Train Station here in Toronto. He worked in The Imperial Room, a posh high end dining room in the hotel that had a fantastic entertainment policy in the late '60s and '70s.

They brought in all of the big names in jazz back then. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee... the list went on and on. My father would sometimes bring me to his work to see and hear these bands and he would sit me in a chair between the stage and the kitchen while he went about his duties. I soon found out that this was the place where the musicians would congregate just before going on stage.

I watched with awe as all of these musicians, some as old as dirt and having decades of road wear on them, warmed up, joshed with one another, passed bottles of liquor around and told stories in a language so thick with accents and slang that it was impossible to decipher what they were saying. Ella was grandmotherly, The Duke was regal and Count seemed stoned. One particular moment I remembered was meeting Duke Ellington's alto sax player Johnny Hodges, the one who pioneered that mile wide vibrato he was famous for. I witnessed his final performance because he died a week later on May 11, 1970.

Seeing so many great bands and artists at a formative time of my life definitely influenced my musical career and choices. Getting a peek behind the curtain was the starting point."

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