Canada

Toronto's landmark El Mocambo closes

Toronto's landmark nightclub, the El Mocambo, was host to its final musical act Sunday night; the new owner has other plans for the building

A Toronto bar famous for a scandal involving Margaret Trudeau has closed its doors after almost half a century of serving drinks, and several decades of showcasing high-profile bands.

The El Mocambo, which began life as one of the city's first cocktail lounges in the 1950s, may look like a typical nightclub. But since the early 1970s it has been a venue for some of the biggest acts in rock and roll.

Those bouncing through included The Rolling Stones, U2, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lou Reed and Elvis Costello.

It was the Stones who brought the club most of its fame by recording a live album there and for partying at the El Mocambo with Margaret Trudeau in the late 1970s.

At the time she was newly separated from her husband, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Miles Goodwin and his band April Wine were the opening act that night.

"We spent the afternoon with them doing sound checks and meeting them and shaking hands," he says. "Margaret Trudeau was there. Keith Richards got busted at the airport in Toronto for heroin."

Booking agent Dan Burke, said to be instrumental in reviving the club since he began working there three years ago, launched a "Save the El Mocambo" campaign last month.

He was previously successful in getting a new neon sign of pink palm trees out front, but was not able to stop what's about to happen to the building.

The new owner plans to convert the upstairs area to a dance studio and turn the basement of the property into a support centre for battered women.

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