Luke & The Apostles
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Luke & The Apostles

Toronto, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1964 | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 1964
Band Blues Blues Rock




"Pop Encyclopedia"

Yorkville Village act Luke & The Apostles were innovators of the electric Blues long before Cream and Led Zeppelin. They achieved some success at sold out coffeehouses but bounced into the limelight with a record deal through MGM in Los Angeles and had one moderate hit called "Been Burnt" in 1967.

With performances in New York they managed to land an exclusive gig at the prestigious Bitter End which led to larger venues opening shows primarily with Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead.

But the band was not making any inroads and sensing the imminent failing of the act, Gibson joined Kensington Market and the Apostles folded immediately the week after.

Jermyn would steal away to Ottawa and take The Esquires members Robert Coulthart and Doug Orr to form The Modern Rock Quartet; McKenna would join The Ugly Ducklings briefly and then create the McKenna-Mendelson Mainline Blues Revue; Pat Little joined Transfusion in the US which eventually became Neil Young's backing band Crazy Horse.

Meanwhile, after Kensington Market failed to set the world on fire, it split-up in 1969 leaving Gibson, Little, McKenna, McBride and Geisinger were left to fill the position of the *new* Luke And The Apostles for a reunion single in 1970 - "You Make Me High" - on manager Bernie Finkelstein's fledgling True North label.

The single would turn out to be the band's most successful record, but previous commitments for some of the members led to the addition of Walter Rossi on guitar. However, by the end of 1970, the band had split up once more.

Gibson would go on to record for True North and released two moderately successful albums in 1971 and 1972; Little had been touring in recent years with Neil Young & Crazy Horse; Peter Jermyn and his wife, Diane, became owners of Yorkville bar Blues On Belair in the late '90s where some of Toronto's Yorkville veterans madke regular appearances with Jermyn's reformed Luke And The Apostles.

Several performances were recorded in 1999 for a CD release but the material wasn't released until 2011 as downloads on iTunes entitled 'Reel Masters: Revival 1999 - Live At Blues On Belair'. - Jam Showbiz

"You Make Me High"

As the story goes, Luke and the Apostles had been kicking around Yorkville for several years with limited success outside their home base in Toronto. Some excellent garage rock (the acerbic single 'Been Burnt' ) was recorded back in 1965 under the tutelage of Elektra honcho Paul Rothchild, but was unfortunately not issued on vinyl until 1967, by which time acid, Sgt. Pepper's and flower power had rendered it all but obsolete. And so after wowing some 50,000 sun-drenched souls that summer at Nathan Phillips Square in support of the Jefferson Airplane, and then snagging a slot on the week-long Airplane/Grateful Dead bill the following week at the O'Keefe Centre, the band's charismatic frontman Luke Gibson decided to walk away from it all. "I had grown tired of playing the blues by that point," singer Luke Gibson revealed to Nicholas Jennings in his Before the Gold Rush. "I was getting interested in original material."

Gibson of course spent the next couple of years with the more adventurous Kensington Market, whose two albums Avenue Road and Aardvark tried to pull the Yorkville scene into the brave new world of psychedelic rock. But the memories of Gibson's former band refused to fade away. "People didn't forget," Gibson would tell the Toronto Telegram newspaper. "We used to get asked constantly, all of us, about the Apostles. Everyone seemed to have good memories of the band." With the British blues boom taking place across the pond and with bands like McKenna Mendelson Mainline belting it out locally, Gibson's time had finally come. "It was only after we broke up that the scene here started to change. Other bands started to come around to the kind of things we had been doing. The blues and rock thing began to dominate."

So as the sixties became the seventies, Gibson reformed Luke and the Apostles with former bandmates Mike McKenna and Pat Little, along with Influence bassist Jack Geisinger. The four then enlisted Bruce Cockburn's manager and local scenester Bernie Finkelstein to represent them. With his sights set on a future album for his recently started True North label, Finklestein hauled the lads into the studio to record what would become their best-remembered song.

The Age of Aquarius was nearing an end, and in Toronto it was more than metaphorical. The Yorkville sit-in several years earlier to reclaim it as a car-free public space had resulted in a few cracked heads and little else. What's worse, the developers' bulldozers were quickly razing what remained of the hippies' neighbourhood. Clearly, some sort of closure was needed, and Gibson, McKenna and Little's 'You Make Me High' proved the perfect prescription. Its soaring, almost overwrought blues and that pure cathartic chorus - not to mention the thinly veiled drug references - must have seemed an apt ending to the free-flowing peace-and-love years.

The song in fact got pretty high itself, rising to an impressive #27 on the CHUM-AM charts. Gibson would grow restless and jump ship again, this time to record an album's worth of folk and country-tinged songs for True North. But the seventies were not kind to the inveterate singer. With glam, prog and, later, punk all conspiring against roots-based music of any sort, Gibson found himself less and less relevant, eventually eschewing the stage completely for a career painting film sets. - Canuckistan Music

"Luke And The Apostles mark half a century in music"

How many bands can preface anecdotes with, “Back at Purple Onion Club in ’64... or was it ’65?" Toronto blues rockers Luke and The Apostles – who celebrated their 50th anniversary at Hugh’s Room this weekend – can.

For a chatty dinnertime crowd (overheard snippets of conversation about the incredible passage of time were almost as entertaining as the band’s performance), the Apostles dished out two energetic sets of originals and covers including Muddy Waters' Two Trains Running and Born In Chicago, which they learned from the Butterfield Blues Band.

But the Apostles were not just a nostalgia act. The guys sounded youthful and renewed as they welcomed Mandala drummer Whitey Glan, a veteran of the same scene, and played new tunes such as Untangle Me, Put Your Foot Down and Keep On Bluesing, which might as well be their mantra. (Sounds like a new album is in the works.)

The set was relaxed with segues between songs often feeling like casual on-stage deliberations. Devil With The Blue Dress On was the kind of near-train wreck that had the band laughing at and with themselves. Yet as Luke and the Apostles jammed out, it was obvious these guys love playing the blues together.

Closer Come Back Baby I Wish You Would had a great groove that evolved into something epic, with a long break to introduce the band and solos all around. Keyboardist Peter Jermyn, who’d been wild all night, was actually comically restrained here. After a one-song encore of Walking The Dog at about 11 p.m., guitarist Mike McKenna of McKenna Mendelson Mainline got in the final word: “We gotta go home now – it’s almost closing time at the home.” - Now Toronto


  • 45 Been Burnt c/w Don’t Know Why (Bounty 45105) 1967 [4]
  • 45 Been Burnt c/w Don’t Know Why (Elektra 45105) 1967
  • 45 You Make Me High c/w Not Far Off (TN 101) 1970
  • 45 You Make Me High c/w You Make Me High (TN 102) 1970
  • 1967 "Been Burnt" Various - Gravel Volume 4 (Kumquat May) [5]
  • 1970 "You Make Me High"



Luke and The Apostles are continually revered as one of the most influential and enigmatic bands of the 60's era in Canadian rock history, both for their energetic brand of blues rock and the lore around their relatively brief but brilliant career. The Doors' and Elektra Records producer Paul Rothchild once lamented that "Luke and The Apostles were the greatest album I never got to make".


Indeed, the group's lone single for Elektra, 1965's " Been Burnt" hardly does justice to a band that provided a training ground for several musicians who went on to "McKenna Mendelson Mainline" "Kensington Market" " Modern Rock Quartet" Rick James' " Heaven And Earth", and Chris Deburg's backing band. 1970's "You Make Me High" on True North still enjoys airplay today.


The Apostles were a mainstay in Toronto's Yorkville Village clubs from 1964 through 1967. They supported the Grateful Dead at the Dead's first NYC shows, appeared at Toronto's first free rock concert at Nathan Phillips Square with Jefferson Airplane in 1967, and a week long engagement at the O'Keefe Centre with the Dead and the Airplane. Reunited in 2013 the Apostles have been performing regularly doing several shows at Toronto's Cadillac Lounge, and Hugh's Room as well as El Mocombo, This Ain't Hollywood, Coburg Blues Fest, and the Canada South Blues Hall of Fame.


The band is now working on a new CD which will be released on the True North label. They are also the subject of the documentary The Unsung by Tamarack Productions. They will be included on a Heritage Toronto plaque to be installed on the former site of Yorkville's Purple Onion club where the band held residency for the better part of 1965-1966.


Personnel consists of three founding members: Luke Gibson (vocals guitar harmonica) Mike McKenna (guitar) Peter Jermyn (keyboards) as well as newcomers Dave Rheume (bass) and Rob Kirkpatrick on drums.

Band Members