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A massive club on two levels presented the biggest names in rock, pop and soul and served as the main stompin’ ground of Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins.
Opened in 1949 by Bill Bulucon, Le Coq D’Or became one of the city’s most successful live music venues. It originally featured a restaurant with two floors devoted to bowling and billiards, but it wasn’t long before music became the top attraction. The earliest performers included Bo Diddley and Conway Twitty. It was Twitty who recommended Toronto to fellow Arkansas native Ronnie Hawkins, who ventured north and never left. Hawkins, with various versions of his band the Hawks, became the club’s biggest draw, leading to the upstairs teenage nightclub, the Hawks Nest. Artists from Fats Domino, King Curtis and Parliament-Funkadelic to Solomon Burke, Sam & Dave and the Cougars, featuring Jay Douglas, all performed. Local acts that shone included soul singer Jackie Shane, the Mandala, the Ugly Ducklings and the Sparrows (later Steppenwolf). After it closed in 1976, Le Coq D’Or became for many years the location of HMV’s Superstore.