I first saw Joe Toole with a band named the Phantoms. I was the new house photographer at a Mississauga club called Entex. This was an Industrial warehouse converted into a large music venue for the Mississauga music scene. BTW, Mississauga had no music scene, so this place was great as it served the public from Toronto all the way to Hamilton for some great shows.
I was lucky enough to be shooting live promo shots for the Jeff Healey Band and this was another opportunity for me to add to my collection of live shots. I walked in and I remember vividly the Phantoms were on stage and going into a song called “Kill the Devil”. The energy that radiated off the band was mesmerizing. The antics between Jerome Godboo-Lead singer and Harmonica player, and Joe Toole- Guitarist and vocalist, were both pure Rock energy and a comedy act. You were very engaged in moments of just wanting to Rock out and roar with fits of laughter as they played off each other in very colourful ways.
I went backstage after the show to talk with them and found Joe Toole very down to earth and very open. The words that came out of his mouth were honest, both brutal and funny. His energy was very positive and you could tell he loved what he was doing for a living. I was invited out to continue to do another live shoot for them at the El Mocambo. They were opening for Bo Diddley and their live energy was still there.
I began to follow this band around, just because of the energy they produced live and the moments I got to spend with Joe Toole. He was both wild on stage as he was off stage. He was the guy who was trying to get as much life into him as possible in a very short period of time. He embraced his youth with plenty of vigor and released it out on stage when he played. I honestly cannot recall one bad moment with Joe. I used to go backstage before a show and watch them put together their set list for the night. This is what gave the Phantoms creative power; they never did the same show twice. This gave Joe Toole the opportunity to hone his stage presence, because you never knew where he was heading. He dressed differently every night and tried different stage moves every night, most of them looked pretty damn good. If they didn’t look cool, he would laugh it off and do something else. His unpredictability was the hook that made fans come back every time.
After The Phantoms broke up, I didn’t get to see Joe again. About 15 years later I accidentally went to an intimate show hosted by Brokenjoe. To my amazement it was Joe Toole with Jerome accompanying him on vocals and harmonica. This was a very sweet reunion where all us wanted to say everything, but didn’t know how. From that moment on, I occasionally bumped into Joe and the moments were always kind. He was one of the first musicians I was lucky enough to get to know and feel privileged to hang out with. He would always greet you with a big smile and he always made you feel very comfortable in his space. I am a rich man based on the times we laughed together.
Here are a few images of Joe Toole: