New film in works on Toronto Rock & Roll festival that led to The Beatles breakup

Media News

A new documentary is in works about a music festival that changed the future of iconic music group Beatles. The festival called Toronto Rock & Roll Revival featured John Lennon by himself in a rare solo performance that many believe led to the breakup of Beatles. 

The film will be called ‘Rock & Roll Revival’ and will be directed by Ron Chapman. It will tell the story of the Toronto event in September 1969, held the same year as Woodstock and Harlem Cultural Festival.

The one-day music festival at the University of Toronto’s 20,000-seat Varsity Stadium was put together by young promoter John Brower with artists including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, The Doors and Alice Cooper. When the ticket sales were poor, the concert was almost cancelled. That’s when Brower invited John Lennon and he said yes.

At the time, John Lennon had been in the studio with The Beatles putting together the Abbey Road album and he didn’t have a band for his two solo albums so he got together a group consisting of Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, Yes drummer Alan White and bass player Klaus Voorman, who designed the artwork for the Revolver record.

At the music festival, John Lennon, Ono and the band played songs including a cover of “Blue Suede Shoes,” as well as “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” The Beatles’ “Yer Blues” and a new song “Cold Turkey” as well as Ono’s “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow).”

It’s after the success of the music festival that John Lennon was sure of leaving The Beatles. 

Pennebaker Hegedus Films is exec producing the project, which is produced by Vancouver’s Screen Siren Pictures, Toronto’s Chapman Productions, Paris’ Films A Cinq. Trish Dolman, Sally Blake and Ron Chapman produce the doc, which is written by Phyllis Ellis.

The film will shoot in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, London and Berlin, ready for a spring release touring the festival circuit.