JAIMIE VERNON – THE UNTOLD STORIES OF CANADIAN POP: EH THRU ZED

Well, it’s finally finished. 14 months, 800 pages and 835,000 words later, the double volumes of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia have been put to bed. Volume 1 was released in March and Volume 2 is off to that magic place that turns Microsoft Work documents into books and Kindle Surprise. It’ll be available for download or sticking under the leg of a wobbly table in the next 10 days or so. And those who are true believers can order both here: http://www.bullseyecanada.com

I’ve been asked on several occasions what the most interesting stories are out of the 2000 music acts who’ve been immortalized in these hefty tomes. My gut reaction is to say “all of them”. But it wouldn’t really be true. As rich and diverse as Canada’s musical legacy is and as comprehensive an understanding one can glean from the parallel and, often, intersecting storylines…the truth is that many artists have had truly ubiquitous and predictable careers (though no less astounding or glamorous for the participants). With only a few exceptions, the acts we’ve all come to know and love musically and historically have the exact same stories: struggle to be discovered, get a record deal, record an album, bask in critical and commercial success, go on tour, get a gold and platinum record, rinse and repeat for the next 30 or 40 years. Until such time as many of these acts write their own autobiographies and give us some of the more lascivious tales in their otherwise millionaire jet-setting existence, it all reads like a grocery list or a well-tailored corporate resume. Unfortunately, some of the biographies already floating around by medium-level stars are no better (and, truthfully, are horrendously written by the artists themselves). But in amongst the truly snooze worthy fairy-tale Princess recitations of Celine Dion’s calculated rise to fame – which has only become interesting for the first time in 25 years with the recent release of some risqué pin-up photos of the superstar –  and Bryan Adams’ boy next-door over-achieving good-guy hit machine, are the real stories of careers that went backwards, forwards, sideways, down. Nearly all of them from artists you’ve never heard of. It goes without saying that had these acts been put in the hands of proper management, attentive record labels and adoring media they too would have a bland, milktoast curriculum vitae.  Without further ado, I’ve assembled a quick alphabetical list of some of the more fascinating stories in CanCon.

AMESBURY, Bill
Toronto’s Bill Amesbury first emerged as a singer songwriter in several unsuccessful area bands before landing a deal with Columbia Records in 1968 as a member of The Five Shy. After two low-charting singles the band split up. Amesbury bounced back with a solo deal in the early ’70s on the Yorkville label where he had a hit with a novelty song called “Frogman Bradley”. As the first signing to Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records in the US (and on Warner Music in Canada), Amesbury set about recording his debut album ‘Jus’a Taste of the Kid’ with Mel O’Brien (bass) and Wally Cameron (drums). The lead-off single was a moderate radio-friendly tune called “I Won’t Let No One Get That Close to Me” in 1974. Though this first single failed to hit pay dirt, the self-penned follow-up, “Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)”, scored a Top10 hit in Canada and has gone on to be a classic AM staple on radio to this day. In 1976 Amesbury moved on to Capitol Records for his sophomore release, ‘Can You Feel It’, which was recorded at Phase One Studios and utilized a cast of seasoned studio players like Barry Keene, Doug Riley, Shawne Jackson, Colina Phillips, and Wally Cameron among others. The album’s title track spawned a minor Top 40 hit in Canada in 1977. His biggest success came through England with singles released on the Power Exchange Records label in the UK like “Every Girl in the World, Tonight”, “Saturday Night (I’ll Be Waiting)” and “I Remember” throughout 1976-1977. By the 1980’s Amesbury’s song began to get discovered by other artists including Natalie Cole (“Nothin’ But a Fool”), and Mitch Ryder (“A Thrill’s a Thrill”) among others. Amesbury soon quit the music business and is currently a social activist and philanthropist in the United States. In November 1999 “Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)” was awarded a SOCAN “Classics” designation for having reached 100,000 airplays on Canadian radio. Over the last 25+ years Amesbury has lived life in the United States as a woman using her considerable songwriting royalty cheques to help with women’s health and safety issues, shelters, and education. She has distanced herself from the music industry. http://youtu.be/yqIO9IV3hAI

BATTERED WIVES (aka THE WIVES)
True to the punk rock ethos, Toronto’s The Battered Wives, like the Viletones and The Forgotten Rebels, were born into controversy. Formed in 1977 by British-born Toby Swann and Toronto natives Larry “Jasper” Klassen  and Cleave Anderson, The Battered Wives gained a reputation on Queen Street as aggressive rabble rousers. Fellow Brit, John Gibb, a clothing boutique owner on Queen Street, had heard about the band through their reputation and managed to convince the members they needed him. Within a year they had signed with fledgling Bomb Records out of Toronto who released their first album, simply titled ‘The Battered Wives’, and they headed out on tour with Elvis Costello. But, it wasn’t long before women’s groups were down their backs for not only the name, but for their logo — a fist with lipstick smeared across the knuckles. The women’s groups began to picket every venue the band played and doing a set list featuring such tunes as “Uganda Stomp” (about Idi Amin) and “Lover’s Balls” didn’t sit well with the pre-PMRC parents groups either. Despite the controversy, or maybe because of it, the Battered Wives built up a huge following which managed to push the sales of the self-titled debut to gold status (50,000 copies) — an unprecedented event for a debut by a Canadian ‘New Wave’ group at the time. The continual upheaval and media spectacle was too much for Cleave Anderson and soon departed to beat the skins for The Sharks (with Sherry Kean). He was quickly replaced by Patrick Mooney. A second album was recorded, but Bomb Records had run out of money and the album sat for almost a year before they licensed it to Epic. However, Epic refused to release the disc unless the band changed their name to ‘The Wives’. Controversy or not, the album only sold 5,500 copies but still managed to win the band a JUNO Award (a Canadian version of The Grammy) for ‘Best Album Graphics’. The Wives had seen no promotion on the western leg of their 1979 tour and asked to be released from their deal with Epic Records citing breach of contract. Ready Records were quick to pick up the newsworthy band and let them return the ‘Battered’ to their names for their 1980 album ‘Live on Mothers’ Day’. Larry Klassen is currently holed-up in America as a successful songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee but his inability to leave the United States is a major crimp in any future Wives reunion; John Gibb is a formidable businessman in the metals industry north of Toronto; Cleave Anderson would go on to join  Blue Rodeo until leaving it as well to maintain a day job working for Canada Post (a job he has since retired from) and drumming for the reformed Screaming Sam & The Problems, The Skrewed, The Beverley Brothers and Swindled among others; Patrick Mooney has been living in Guelph, Ontario since 1990 and works as a sound tech; he has also been seen still playing drums with groups like Benji and ex-Johnny & The G-Rays member Harri Palm around the Toronto area; Toby Swann moved on to both a solo career (he would have a seminal underground hit with ‘Lullabyes In Razorland’ and its slash-and-burn remake of the Judy Garland classic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”) and as founder of Gamma Gamma. He currently lives in Antigua. http://youtu.be/vzWtkg2FrJI

CADELL, Meryn
A Toronto avant garde poet/vocalist, Meryn Cadell was doing the underground Queen Street circuit as a female performance artist when she released an independent cassette simply titled ‘Mare-In Ka-Dell’ in 1988. With some extra cash Cadell returned to the studio to begin work on what would become ‘Angel Food For Thought’. Stuart Raven-Hill and Graham Stairs at Intrepid Records signed Cadell based on the strength of these sessions featuring members of The Rheostatics as backing band, Barenaked Ladies’  Jim Creeggan and Blue Rodeo’s Bob Wiseman. Intrepid released the remixed album in 1991 and the first single, “The Sweater”, became a radio/video hit. Single release follow-ups were “Inventory” and “Barbie” but failed to live up to the potential of “The Sweater”. In 1993 came the single/video “Courage” (featuring members of The Infidels) from Cadell’s follow-up album ‘Bombazine’ on Sire/Warner. The album once again had an all-star guest line-up in John Gzowski, George Koller, Andy Stochansky, Chris Whiteley, Ben Mink (FM), Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies), Thomas Neuspiel, Tom Third, Anne Bourne (Bourne & McLeod), The Rheostatics, Kathryn Rose, and John Alcorn. Cadell went on hiatus from the music business after the deal with Sire fell apart trying to put as much distance as possible from ‘The Sweater’ girl. In 1995 Cadell became involved with the PEN charity – the worldwide organization of writers dedicated to the defence of freedom of expression which also works to free imprisoned, endangered and disappeared writers. Cadell also began writing a one woman movie called ‘Going Back to Find’ which was shelved indefinitely due to Ontario Government arts funding cutbacks. In 1997 Cadell made a strong musical comeback with ‘6 Blocks’ on the indie Handsome Boy label. Special guests included Anne Bourne, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Chris Wardman (Blue Peter), Paul Brennan (The Odds), Jason Sniderman (Blue Peter), Martin Tielli (Rheostatics), and Fergus Marsh (Bruce Cockburn, Big Faith). Cadell also did some music for film (“The Hanging Garden”) and for the CBC radio program “Definitely Not the Opera” (aka DNTO). Cadell had a significant public career as a woman but on October 2, 2004, Cadell came out as a transsexual man (female-to-male), on broadcaster Bill Richardson’s CBC Radio One show ‘Bunny Watson’, and announced that he will retain his birth name of Meryn Cadell. He currently teaches the writing of song lyrics and libretto in the Creative Writing Program at University of British Columbia as a professor. http://youtu.be/gCz7UUtRPH4

DAYGLO ABORTIONS
Formed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1979, the Dayglo Abortions were part of the Hardcore 2nd wave of punk who did their best to offend with black and often offensive humour involving rape, killing, body functions, sex and other related taboo and distasteful subjects to the general public. However, they got more than they bargained for when the band and their record label, Fringe Product were charged with distributing obscene material under the Canadian Criminal Code. Several hundred copies of the band’s LPs were seized in 1988 following a four month investigation by Nepean, Ontario police after complaints from an officer whose daughter had brought home a copy of a Dayglo Abortions album. A precedent setting trial was held in Ottawa on November 5, 1988 for obscenity related offences. Toronto record company Fringe Product Inc. and its distribution arm Record Peddler faced charges of distribution and possession for the purpose of distributing obscene material.  The prosecution was centered on 11 of  37 Dayglo Abortion songs from two albums entitled “Feed U.S.A. Fetus” (1985), which shows a painting of former President and First Lady Ronald & Nancy Reagan in front of a baked human fetus on a plate, and “Here Today, Guano Tomorrow” (1988) which showed before and after pictures of a hamster being killed with a gun. The charges were the first ever in Canadian law under obscenity provisions enacted in 1959. However, the Ottawa jury, originally deadlocked, was ordered back into deliberation before returning nine hours later with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict. Charges against the band itself were dropped early in the case as Canadian law does not prohibit the creation of obscene material, only the selling or distributing of it.
The downside to the victory was the enormous cost of Fringe defending itself in court and the ultimate collapse of the label due to insurmountable legal bills. The band’s reaction to the ordeal was to release an even more offensive follow-up album in 1990 called ‘Two Dogs Fucking’ featuring two huskies having sex on the background of a postage stamp. http://youtu.be/_II02wUIFfY

EXTRAS, The
In the Spring of 1979, Denis Keldie was working in a band called Sneakers with Leon Stevenson (who had known each other from school in Mississauga, Ontario) During the same period Stevenson was working with B.B. Gabor as a songwriter on material for Gabor. His group, The Instaband, featured Paul Armstrong on drums and Tom Griffiths on bass. When Gabor signed his record deal with Anthem Records, he decided to combine musicians Leon Stevenson and Denis Keldie with the members of The Instaband as his musicians for his first solo album. Following two weeks of pre-production with producer Terry Brown a disastrous and very drunken performance by B.B and the band at The Edge in Toronto was apparently witnessed by a label rep and the brakes were quickly put on the recordings with Gabor’s backing band. Though the various members were asked to sign publishing contracts for the material they co-wrote with Gabor (Stevenson writing the lyrics to “Metropolitan Life”; Armstrong writing the lyrics to “Soviet Jewelry”; Keldie co-writing “Moscow Drug Club”), the band itself was fired from the recording sessions. From this fiasco was born the united Extras who signed with Ready Records and released “Bit Parts” featuring soon-to-be famous producer David Bendeth. The album spawned two hit singles: the hilarious condom conundrum “Circular Impression” http://youtu.be/5f92eE6McME  and “Jealous Girl” (The Extras and BB Gabor would eventually reconcile and Gabor would record “Jealous Girl” on his sophomore album).  Several more albums followed on Ready Records including one of the earliest Canadian animated music videos for their song “I Can’t Stand Still”. http://youtu.be/3jwTmMxMxAc

FERRIER, Garry
Garry Ferrier was one of Toronto radio station CHUM-AM’s top daytime disc jockeys. As a means of promoting the radio station, it would release novelty records featuring CHUM personalities. Ferrier had written a spoof of the “Battle of New Orleans” called “The Battle of Queenston Heights” which was released in 1959 by Mike Darow & The CHUMS. Ferrier’s smooth voice made him the perfect choice as frontman. His first charting single (only on CHUM affiliated stations, of course) was “President’s Canada Conference” which cracked the Top 30 in 1963. In March 1964 CHUM gathered their top on-air personalities – Garry Ferrier, Bob McAdorey, Mike Darow and John Spragge – and released the Ferrier penned “Brotherhood Of Man” on Quality Records. It too made the CHUM Top-30. Due to the success of Ferrier’s second solo single, “Ringo-Deer”, which went Top-10 in December 1964, Ferrier was also part of the monster publicity and promotion campaign by CHUM when the Beatles came to Toronto in 1964 and 1965. CHUM’s distribution deal with Capitol made their access to the Beatles easier via Capitol’s A & R chief Paul White who actually signed The Beatles to their Canadian record deal in 1963.  In the Fall of 1965 Ferrier and CHUM personality Brian Skinner released a Halloween-based record on Arc Records called “Do The Frankie” under the name Brian & Garry And The Chain Rattlers. The song didn’t chart. The same year Ferrier was used to front the imaginary Race Marbles band on the hit “Like A Dribbling Fram” which broke the Top-40. Ferrier would later go on to write television incidental music for the CBC shows ‘Check It Out’ and ‘King of Kensington’ with Aubrey Tadman. They were also instrumental in writing for the revived version of CBC’s ‘Keith Hampshire’s Music Machine’ with music director Doug Riley. http://youtu.be/7ZKFYkVEePQ

GARNETT, Gale
Garnett spent her first decade growing up in New Zealand before her family immigrated to Canada. She began singing in public at the age of 18 and launched her acting career at the same time with a appearances on TV shows like ‘The Dick Powell Show’, ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Bonanza’. She began appearing in night clubs starting in 1963, and was discovered by RCA Records in New York where she was signed to a recording contract. In late 1964, Garnett’s self-penned “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”, from her debut album ‘My Kind of Folk Songs’, crossed over in several radio formats which peaked at No.10 on the CHUM Chart in September 1964. It reached #1 on Billboard’s ‘Adult Contemporary Singles chart’ for seven weeks while becoming a Top 50 country hit. The song went on to win a Grammy Award for ‘Best Folk Recording’ in 1965. Garnett also found international success with records released in French that gained popularity in Quebéc and France. Her second highest charting single, “Lovin’ Place”, peaked at #36 on the CHUM Chart in January 1965. At the peak of her popularity, Garnett appeared twice on ABC-TV’s music show ‘Shindig!’ and ‘The Lloyd Thaxton Show’. She continued her recording career as a singer and guitarist in the late ’60s with her backing band the Gentle Reign which featured Paul Robinson (drums), producer Dick Rosmini (guitar), Rob Fisher (bass, synthesizer), Tony Hill (guitar, percussion) and Bruce Horiuchi (organ, piano). Together they moved away from straight pop music into psychedelic influenced material after signing with Columbia Records. On the big screen, Garnett appeared in the 1967 Rankin-Bass stop-motion feature film ‘Mad Monster Party’ sings “Our Time to Shine” and “Never Was a Love Like Mine.” Her music career was put aside in the 1980s and she focused more on film (‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, ‘Tribute’, ’32 Short Films About Glenn Gould’) and television (‘Edison Twins’, ‘King of Kensington’, ‘Littlest Hobo’, ‘E.N.G.’, ‘Kung Fu: The Legend Continues’). She has also branched out into journalism, has become a successful book author and writes/performs one-person theatre shows. http://youtu.be/ZjQQmzEyVgA

HOMEMADE THEATRE
Homemade Theatre was a creative partnership of Larry Mollin, Phil Savath, Barry Flatman and Fred Mollin. The quartet was fully funded theatre artists with an actual theatre in the 70’s in Toronto. It also spawned, among other pursuits, a TV series called ‘Homemade TV’ that ran three seasons on CBC-TV from 1975 to 1978. With Fred Mollin’s background as a music producer as well, they had a chance to demo their first novelty song “Santa Jaws” in 1975. It was written by Phil Savath and the Mollin brothers and was produced by Andy Hermant at Manta Sound. Savath narrated and Flatman performed the vari-speed Shark’s voice. All the members sang at the end and created the chomping/munching sounds with various vegetables and fruits closely miked. The B-side featured shark themed Christmas carol parodies performed by a professional choir. Hermant and Fred Mollin played the recording for Gerry LaCoursiere at A & M Records Canada and was released by A & M in a colorful picture sleeve in time for Christmas 1975. The song reached #36 on the RPM Top100 Singles chart in late 1975. The record sold 50,000 copies and was nominated for three JUNO Awards in 1976 including ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Single of the Year’ but failed to win any. It also was released by A & M in the US. On the success of “Santa Jaws” – which they also performed live at their theatre shows – they released “Disco Tech” which was a poorly timed anti-disco song that came out just as The Bee Gees’ ‘Saturday Night Fever’ swept the country. Savath played the Joe Friday character who narrated the A-side. Alas, the record failed to garner any attention at radio. The group finished out their A & M deal in ignominy with 1976’s “CB Santa” which was narrated by Flatman and written by Savath and the Mollin brothers. It was produced by Fred Mollin and Andy Hermant and featured musical contributions by John Capek. The single was released in Canada under the name Big Jim And The Good Buddies while in the US it was released as Homemade Theatre. The B-side called “Soup of the Day” contained improvisational riffs by Fred Mollin and featured him howling like a cat. Barry Flatman continues to be one of Canada’s best character actors and his face can be seen on TV, movies and commercials. He lives in Toronto; Larry Mollin has spent the last 30 years writing and producing for prime time TV in the US including ‘CHiPs’, ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ (for which he did 128 hours). He is now back to the theatre writing and directing plays. He splits his time between Santa Monica and Martha’s Vineyard; Phil Savath was a TV writer and producer who passed away in 2004 after a battle with cancer is greatly missed; Fred Mollin continues to perform & produce records for Jimmy Webb, America, Johnny Mathis, and J. D. Souther among others. He lives in Nashville and Martha’s Vineyard. http://youtu.be/BU-wfjmMeWs

illScarlett
illScarlett was formed in Clarkson, Ontario in 2001 when Pior and Norman attended Iona Catholic Secondary and played in various bands together and called themselves Ill Scarlett Drive after a neighbourhood street called Will Scarlett Drive. Their first show was a Canadian Music Week showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern but they soon had a line-up shuffle. In 2003 they recorded the ‘Five Song Demo’. The feedback was positive and so they recorded their debut album ‘iLLP’ in 2004. Unable to grab the attention of media or labels in Canada, the band decided to try a publicity stunt in hopes of getting on the 2004 Vans Warped Tour. Knowing that the tour would arrive in Barrie, Ontario at Park Place, the band drove to where the organizers would be setting up the stages and drove into the restricted area where they stayed over night – sleeping in their vehicle. In the morning, with fences erected around them and security in place, they asked to see the organizer with hopes of performing on one of the small stages. They were immediately escorted from the sight by security. Prepared for such a rejection, they set up outside the venue’s front gates and performed for attendees who were lining up. As it happens, a tour manager for the band Sublime heard their first three songs and invited them in to meet the tour organizer Kevin Lyman. He invited the band to play at his private BBQ party that night and offered illScarlett dates on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour. Later in 2004 they recorded a new EP on their own Infect the Masses imprint entitled ‘Clearly Another Fine Mess’. They were finally signed by Sony-BMG that year and cranked out an eight song transitional EP entitled ‘EPdemic’ on their own label. illScarlett managed a performance at the inaugural kick off of the Virgin Music Festival that year. The group was sent to Los Angeles to record with producer Mathew Wilder (No Doubt). The result was 2007’s ‘All Day With It’ which featured the singles “Who’s Got It?”, “Paradise Burning”, and “Life of a Soldier”. They would tour North America, Europe and Japan on the success of the release. “Who’s Got It” was chosen as the official anthem for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. illScarlett was nominated for ‘Best Video’, ‘Best Rock Video’, ‘Best Post-Production’, ‘Best Director’ (“Nothing Special”), and the ‘People’s Choice: Favourite Canadian Group’ at the 2008 MuchMusic Video Awards; the band would also get a nod at the 2008 JUNO Awards for ‘New Group of the Year’. The band released their second album for Sony-BMG in 2009 entitled ‘1UP!’ http://youtu.be/L6UaI3ipyuo

JAMES, Jamie
Guitarist Jamie James was born in Toronto but at the age of two moved to Woodstock, Ontario. While attending D.M. Sutherland Senior Public School he was given his first electric guitar for Christmas in 1966 from his mother. During this period he met three other guitar players who he befriended and influenced his playing style – Dougie Burton, Paul Howly and Paul Wright. James recalled seeing a band practice down the street in a basement with the name Kingbees written on the bass drum. Years later he would use the name for his first successful commercial band. When James became good enough he played with a couple of local bands, but only ever played one show at a local high school. In the summer of 1969 he move to London, Ontario and met some musicians to form the band Underlug who performed professionally. In 1971, James made the leap across the ocean to London, England for a few of years and did session work at Olympic, Advision and AIR Studios. In 1973 he moved back to London, Ontario and formed a band called Jamie James And The Shame Band. Later that year he performed with a band in Detroit called Skip Van Winkle And The Night Rockers. Bob Seger used to drop by and sit in with the band during their performances. But, after James was fired from that band in 1974, he returned to Canada and reformed Jamie James And The Shame Band who managed to land the opening slot on April Wine’s tour that year. With money saved from his gigs, James moved to Los Angeles in 1975. He stayed with guitarist friend Paul Warren (Night Rockers, Rod Stewart). At the time Warren was playing with a new version of Rare Earth which allowed James to connect with many other great musicians. James soon played with a Top Forty band called Fire And Ice for about a year before meeting Nick St. Nicholas from Steppenwolf. Nicholas was reforming the band with Goldy McJohn (but minus John Kay) and asked James to play guitar. James played with Steppenwolf for about a year and played all over the US, Canada and Europe. But what James craved was to change direction and be in his own band again. He formed The Kingbees in 1977 with next door neighbour Rex Roberts (drums) and Michael Rummans (bass). With the death of disco and the onslaught of post-punk, they cut off their long hair, took fashion tips from the book of Buddy Holly and it caught on like wildfire in Los Angeles. By 1980 they had been signed to a record deal with RSO Records. Their first album was released in March of that year and the band a substantial radio hit with the single “My Mistake”. That led to lots of touring, a guest spot in a movie called the ‘Idol Maker’ and an appearance on American Bandstand. Their second LP, called ‘The Big Rock’, came out exactly a year later in March of 1981. But, that same week, the record label folded and the band was left without tour or financial support. James decided to lie low for the next few years, but throughout the 1980’s would periodically do Kingbees shows. He released a 12″ single called “Just Like That” in 1982. A 5 song EP called ‘The Big One’ was released in 1984. In 1988 he put together a band called The Rufnex featuring Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats. That same year he began hanging out with actor/guitarist Harry Dean Stanton and by 1990 they had put a band together with Slim Jim Phanton (drums), Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter (pedal steel), and Tony Sales (bass). After a few months of that James and Stanton started another group called the Harry Dean Stanton Orchestra with various members over a nine year period. Occasionally sitting in with the group would be Chaka Khan, John Densmore of the Doors, and Joni Mitchell. In that time James also managed to realease two solo CDs, ‘Cruel World’ (1994) and ‘Crossroads’ on Oglio Records in 2000. Since then James has been playing with Dennis Quaid in a band called DQ And The Sharks. He is currently working on a new solo CD called ‘Bittersweet’ to be released soon. http://youtu.be/HkhPSTnZ1cU

KULAS, Michael
Kulas’ family moved from Oakville, Ontario to the Peterborough region so that he could attend the private Lakefield College School where Prince Andrew and Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) attended in the early 1980s. He dabbled in many music projects during the late 1980s/early 1990s but it was a FACTOR New Demo Award grant in 1995 that allowed him to begin recording his original songs. One of his songs was runner up in the annual Q107 Scott Liddle Songwriter Competition. He would soon record his debut album, ‘Mosquito’, with producer Saul Davies of British rock band James. The album was declared one of the Top20 independent releases by Chart Magazine in 1996. The album also came to the attention of James frontman Tim Booth from James who was looking for a replacement for the recently departed guitarist/ vocalist Larry Gott. Kulas was put through trial by fire after an invitation to join the band in New York in January 1997 to appear on ‘Late Night With David Letterman’. The ad hoc ‘audition’ went well and Kulas would go on to tour and record four albums with James from 1997 through 2001. Following Tim Booth’s decision to leave the band in 2001, the group disbanded. In 2002 Kulas released his self-produced sophomore solo album ‘Another Small Machine’. He also did mini-tours throughout Canada to support the album. Kulas would also compose the score for the film ‘Jade Love’ which won the 2004 ‘Best Short Documentary’ at the Reel Film Festival in Toronto. In 2006 he did the same for the feature film ‘The Death of Alice Blue’. Kulas also wrote and produced the theme song for the animated series ‘Team Galaxy’ for The Cartoon Network. He released the EP ‘Imperial Cheerleader’ in December 2006 exclusively on  iTunes. In January, 2007 his old band, James, re-formed with its original 1992 line up to record a new album. When the band’s live tour passed through Toronto in September, 2008, Kulas was invited to perform “Just Like Fred Astaire”, “Five-O” and “Destiny Calling” with them. Kulas is married to animation voice actress Katie Griffin (‘Sailor Moon’, ‘Care Bears’, ‘Beyblade’, ‘Braceface’, et al). http://youtu.be/cXOiYWv7njw

LARK, Tobi
Bessie Gupton was born in Alabama but raised in Detroit. She is the daughter of Gospel singer Emma Washington whom she sang with in the Emma Washington Gospel Singers group. After ten years with the group she got a job as backing vocalist for B.B.King. In 1963 she was signed to the Riverside label as Bessie Watson and released the single “Deed I Do” with the Cannon Ball Adderley Quinttet as backing band. She then did two more singles with the Jay Pee label – “I’m In Your Corner” and “Wake Up Trying”. She then changed her name to Tobi Lark and released singles on the Palmer, Topper and USD labels. After a separation from her husband in the late 1960’s she and her young son relocated to Montreal, Quebec. She performed in nightclubs and showcased at ‘Expo 67’ before moving to Toronto to become a backing vocalist for Ronnie Hawkins. She landed a lead role in the musical ‘Hair’ and established the Armageddon Revue at the Blue Orchid Club. She finally had a hit on the Mala label with the1968 song “Time Will Pass You By” under the one-off name “Tobi Legend” for contractual reasons. She was an in-demand vocalist and did work with the Impressions, King Curtis, Four Tops, Ben E. King, Wilson Pickett and Duke Ellington among others. She then carried on as Tobi Lark and released two singles on Cotillion Records in 1969 “Shake a Hand” and “Just To Hold My Hand” stateside. Back in Canada she was signed to Jack Richardson’s Nimbus 9 Records who had her do a cover version of the Cat song “We’re All In This Together” which was recorded live with a gospel choir at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Toronto. The song peaked at No.38 on the RPM Top100 singles chart in November 1970. With a new deal on Arpeggio Records in 1972, Lark managed to scratch the bottom of the radio charts with “Here I Go Again” and “Bayou Children”. She has continued working in Toronto, Windsor and Detroit, and has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Kenny Rogers among others. In 1995, she recorded a live CD and appeared at the Toronto Blues Society’s ‘Women’s Blues Revue’. Lark’s recordings have become hugely collectable to fans of the Northern Soul club movement. http://youtu.be/bIEwbHt8bPI

MALKA & JOSO
Malka Marom was born and raised in Israel, the daughter of a cantor. She performed in the Dalia Festival and, as an actress, in the Israeli TV movie ‘The Village Tale’. After arriving in Canada she quickly became well known as a TV personality, panelist, dancer and singer. Joso Spralja was born in the seaport of Dalmatia but left the fisherman trade that had been his family’s means of revenue for ten generations. He helped to support his family by singing in cathedrals and theatres and was awarded a government scholarship to the Zagreb Conservatory where he studied under Europe’s leading coaches. As a member of the renowned Yugoslavian Sextette and performer on the operatic stage, he became one of Yugoslavia’s leading entertainers. After Joso arrived in Canada in 1962, he was introduced to Malka by performer Eli Kassner in Toronto’s Yorkville district at an after-hours coffeehouse called The 71. The duo began a partnership as an eclectic world music folk duo. Booking agent Sylvia train got them a house gig and they debuted at the Lord Simcoe Hotel in early 1963. Since Joso didn’t know English, Malka introduced the songs, translated the lyrics, and invented stories to supplement the short songs that made up a set. Her self-deprecating humour and dramatic presentations of the material added dimension not only to the songs, but also to the personalities of the singers, and made their performance universal. This “filler” would become an integral part of their program. It has been long rumoured that the Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara folk characters from the mockumentary ‘A Mighty Wind’ is based on Malka & Joso. In the summer of 1964, Malka & Joso played the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario, on a bill with Ian & Sylvia, The Travellers, and rising star Gordon Lightfoot. By the following year, record retailer Sam Sniderman of Sam The Record Man became a fan and recommended them to Capitol Records Canada’s A & R director of talent Paul White. In December 1964, Malka & Joso went into Toronto’s RCA Studios with guitarist Rafael Nunez and bassist Fred Muscat to begin recording their debut album. They recorded each song as though it was being performed live – vocals with instruments in one take. The recording session produced enough material for two albums. ‘Introducing Malka & Joso’ was released December 24, 1964 in Canada and in England and the United States in early January 1965. In the height of a Canadian winter, Malka & Joso went on a concert tour to the Northwest Territories, the Prairies, and British Columbia. In Roblin, Manitoba, they were the first live professional concert the people had ever seen; when they were booked to sing at Powell River across the Georgia Strait in British Columbia a vicious snowstorm grounded their plane. Joso convinced a local fisherman to take them across the icy pass. It took four hours ato make the 35-mile journey, arriving at the theater with minutes to spare before stage time. Despite the weather, they didn’t miss a single concert during the 20,000 mile tour. Malka & Joso’s second album, ‘Mostly Love Songs’ came out in late 1965 – just as the duo won an RPM Gold Leaf Award as the year’s ‘Best Folk Group’. Their third album, ‘Jewish Songs’, featuring Hebrew and Yiddish songs, proved to be another bestseller. Their fourth, ‘Folk Songs Around the World’, featured “the best” of the tracks from the Malka & Joso recordings. It was released in Britain, France, Holland, and Italy. In the fall of 1966, Malka & Joso’s ‘A World of Music’ TV show followed the ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’ On a recommendation from Gordon Lightfoot the William Morris talent agency booked them into Carnegie Hall, on concert tours, for club and TV appearances in the United States. They became favourites of Johnny Carson, Salvador Dali, and Samuel Bronfman. Before they dissolved their musical partnership in 1967, Malka & Joso were invited to represent Canada at a Royal Command Performance at the Canadian Centennial Ball. Malka would also have several return solo engagements during August of 1967 at Montreal’s Expo ’67. Malka & Joso, both married their respective spouses and had two children each. Both performers live part of the year in Canada and the other in their respective native lands. Today, Marom is better known as the author of the novel, “Sulha” and a writer/producer of many CBC documentaries. She was also, briefly, the host of her own TV chow on CITY-TV called ‘Mosaic’ in the 1980s; Joso is famous now for his restaurant, Joso’s , which is among the most popular in Toronto. As part of its 50th anniversary celebration in 2000, EMI Music Canada commissioned a study of its early years. Malka & Joso were among one of their long-lost re-discoveries. The result was the ‘Malka & Joso Forever’ CD anthology of the best material from their three original albums. http://youtu.be/cp4-YdV-rM8

NORTHERN HAZE
Three Inuit friends from an outpost at the 69th Parallel in the Arctic born to Nomadic parents had settled in Igloolik in 1968/1969 – a hamlet of 900 at the tip of Baffin Island. After seeing local band Phreeze perform for the locals in 1973, the firends built their own instruments by hand and started working with other friends who were inspired by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Terry Jacks. Eventually they acquired real instruments and the band began performing loud and heavy rock music with lyrics in their native Innuktituk language. They formed Northern Lights in 1977, finally added a drummer in 1980 and changed their name to Northern Haze. They would garner attention winning contests, receiving press coverage, and touring isolated Northern communities in the early 1980s. As part of a 30 album project of Inuit and Native Canadian music sponsored by CBC Radio in 1985, Northern Haze was invited to travel 3000 km south to record an album at Mark Productions in Ottawa that March. The album was co-produced by Randall Prescott and Les McLaughlin. The result became the first Canadian Inuit Rock/Metal album ever made and first Indigenous language rock album in North America. The largely promo-only short run album was limited to 500 copies and soon ran out as a collectible after the band made appearances at The Arctic Show and Expo ‘86. The band’s notoriety soon faded but they carried on and remained together for 35 years; bassist Elijah Kunnuk died of cancer in December 2007 at the age of 45 and guitarist Kolitalik “Kolt” Inuksuk was stabbed to death FIVE DAYS later in a bar brawl. Despite the tragedy Northern Haze carried on in 2008 with Derek Aqqiaruk taking over bass duties. A documentary by director Jason Flower on the band’s long history was also filmed in their hometown Igloolik, Nunavut in August of 2010 entitled ‘Living The Dream’. In recent years the band played all five nights of the Snow Festival 2011 in Puvirnituq. The original album was licensed from the CBC and Jason Flower recorded three new tracks with the band in September 2010. The new tracks were mixed in Vancouver through February and March 2011 and added to a 25th Anniversary anthology CD released of Sinnaktuq on Supreme Echo Records. http://youtu.be/XiVFIY5AC0w

OJIJI
Rupert “Ojiji” Harvey is a Jamaican solo artist who relocated to Canada and formed Crack of Dawn back in the mid’70s. Rupert Harvey was born in Jamaica, but his family moved to Canada when he was eleven years old. While still in his teens, he co-founded the Canadian band Crack Of Dawn – the first all black band in Canada to be signed to a major label (CBS Records) in 1975. They released their self-titled debt album in 1976 and had several successful radio hits particularly the single “It’s Alright (This Feeling I’m Feeling)”. In the late 1970s, he embarked on a solo career. His 1979 solo album ‘The Shadow’ (known as ‘Ojiji’ in Swahili and a name he adopted) was mostly instrumentals featuring Harvey and assists from Crack of Dawn members Andre King, Carl Harvey, Carl Otway, and Paul Douglas among others.In the early 1980’s Harvey co-founded Canadian reggae act Messenjah with Errol Blackwood. A major break came in 1982 when Joe Strummer of The Clash picked the act to open Canadian dates on The Clash’s ‘Combat Rock’ tour. Messenjah was signed to Warner Bros. Records and went on to win many awards including a JUNO Award. After Messenjah disbanded, Harvey released the album ‘Once a Lion’ in 2000 and was briefly in the band The Redeem Team. In recent years he has become head of the Tai Mantis Kung Fu Association in Toronto, Ontario. He was also elected the only non-Chinese president of the 400-year old Praying Mantis Kung Fu School from China. http://youtu.be/Bt35quppdCo

PLUMTREE
Plumtree were formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1993 after meeting through their music teachers in school. As Plumtree they played their first show at Halifax’s all-ages Cafe Ole in June 1993. With the song “Follow You” on the No Records compilation cassette ‘No Class’, the band were able to do opening slots for Jale, Thrush Hermit, Velocity Girl and the Spinanes. Cinnamon Toast Records teamed the young girls with Prince Edward Island act Strawberry for a 4 song 7” single entitled ‘Green Mittens’. Plumtree then wrote and recorded six songs for their debut cassette ‘Flutterboard’ in 1995. They then retired to Sound of One Hand Studios in Ottawa and recorded 1995’s ‘Mass Teen Fainting’ with producer Paul Hogan. College radio gave the album a great reception.  Plumtree won the ‘Best Canadian Band Under Twenty’ Award at the YTV Achievement Awards. They soon set about recording their sophomore album at Idea of East studios in Halifax with producer Laurie Currie. The CD ‘Predicts the Future’ was released in 1998. The album shot up College charts where they hit No.1. Meanwhile, the videos for the singles “Scott Pilgrim”, “Go”, and “You Just Don’t Exist” received rotation airplay on MuchMusic. The song “Scott Pilgrim” would eventually inspire Bryan Lee O’Malley to create the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. The album was nominated for an East Coast Music Award. For the next six years Plumtree did summer national tours (as they were all still in school) sharing stages with The Local Rabbits, Thrush Hermit, The Inbreds, Super Friendz, Julie Doiron, The Weakerthans and Duotang. Album No.3, ‘This Day Won’t Last at All’ was produced by Justin Deneau at Electromagnetic Studios in 1999. The video for the song “Regret” received modest rotation on MuchMusic. After a west coast tour with The Salteens in the spring of 2000 the band finally called it quits that summer;  In July 2010 three of the former members jumped on stage to perform the song “Scott Pilgrim” at the Toronto launch party for the ‘Scott Pilgrim Volume 6’ graphic novel. The theatrical movie release ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ was released on August 13, 2010. In the film and comic book, the main character Scott Pilgrim wears a Plumtree t-shirt. The song appears in the film along with another Plumtree song “Go!” http://youtu.be/sb3TWNzMSr0

QUARRINGTON, Paul
Paul Quarrington was not only a musician, but a critically acclaimed novelist whose most recognized work was the book ‘Whale Music’ (and the movie made from it). He also wrote the screenplay for ‘Camilla’ (1994). Quarrington was a member of Quarrington-Worthy, Joe Hall and the Continental Drift and The Porkbelly Futures. His brother is jazz musician Tony Quarrington whose album ‘Top Ten Written All Over It’, Paul sang on. Paul Quarrington died of cancer January 21, 2010. Cordova Bay released a CD of Quarrington’s collection of solo songs in August of that year. http://youtu.be/_1jHn9SHhIg

RAE, Robbie
Robbie Rae started his singing career as a boy soprano in a choir. Following the writing of “This Little Bird” by his brother Raymond, he and Robbie were discovered by a passerby while they were singing the song at home. This kindly stranger was a recording hobbyist and had the boys record the tune at his make-shift home studio. The gentleman sent the song to producer Ivor Raymonde at Decca Records in London and the duo was signed to a recording contract. In 1966 Decca released “This Little Bird” b/w “You Better Move On” under the name Robbie And Ray. The label wanted the boys to tour to promote it. Though Ray was already 17, Robbie was only 14 and they had to wait for Robbie to complete school following his 15th birthday in 1967. Under the name Robbie, Ray and the Jaguars, they toured Wales and Europe with various configurations from 1967 to 1971 opening for The Tremeloes, The Move, and even actor/singer Des O’Connor. The even made an appearance on the UK talent show ‘Opportunity Knocks’ hosted by Hughie Green. As their popularity grew, and people constantly misquoted the band’s name as Robbie Ray and the Jaguars, it was at this point they adopted the stage name Robbie Rae; “Rae” being a variation on Raymond’s name. They would find infamy in Wales where, having secured a new record deal with MCA in 1969 they recorded a version of “The Lord’s Prayer” in Welsh – which had been part of their stage show for many years – and which was subsequently banned by the BBC because it was deemed blasphemous. Of course, this only helped fuel sales of 100,000 copies worldwide. They drifted to NEMS Records next and in 1971 they were signed to a fourth record deal – this time with M.A.M. Records who released the single “Stay Love” that was popular in England but not in Europe or overseas. In 1972, on the cusp of a new deal with producer Mickey Most and Air Records, Ray quit the band. He would ultimately become a pastor back in Wales. Robbie, meanwhile, adopted Robbie Rae as his personal stage name and in 1973 The Jaguars became Sweet Sensation featuring four male and two female members. Decca Records took an interest in the band and had the band demo the songs “Natalie” and “Three Score and Ten”. However, their management team fell apart and the band soon followed suit. Robbie Rae would soon end up in a pop act called Roundabout. He also hosted a TV show on the BBC in Wales. One of the guests on the show was Canadian singer Cherrill Yates (ex-The Comic Opera) from Canada. Upon moving to Canada, he and Yates married and moved to her hometown of St. Thomas, Ontario. The duo signed a deal with A & M Records as an adult pop act in 1976 but failed to make any inroads with their first few singles “Don’t Shut Me Out” and “Oh Me, Oh My”. After turning a version of Doris Day’s 1956 hit “Que Sera Sera” into a disco dance track in 1977 the duo managed to chart. The label was encouraged enough to have the act record their self-titled debut album in 1978 which was produced mainly by Harry Hinde with several tracks produced by Cliff Edwards (ex-The Bells). Their second album ‘Dancing Up a Storm’, also produced by Harry Hinde, followed immediately in 1979 and a remixed 12″ single of “A Little Lovin” (Keeps The Doctor Away)” was issued. The catchy, bubbly song shot up the charts immediately. It went to No.5 on Billboard’s Club Play list but only peaked at No.61 on the Pop chart. The song failed to make hit status because of a typographical error in Billboard magazine which showed the record sliding down the charts after a promising start and A & M pulled all promotion on the record. However, they took another chance with a second 12″ single, “I Only Wanna Get Up and Dance,” but it only managed to reach No. 47 on the Club Play lists before disappearing. In Canada The Raes were nominated for two Juno Awards and they became hosts of a CTV’s variety show. They were then offered a chance at a firm 5-year TV contract of their own – which they turned down after A & M execs felt it would affect sales. But the writing was already on the wall as their third album, “Two Hearts”, wasn’t even optioned for release in the US. With no label support and declining popularity Cherrill and Robbie’s personal lives took the strain and the group split up in 1981 and the duo divorced in the early 1980s. Following the demise of the duo he tried to make a go of it solo on Quality Records in 1983 with a song called “Finger On It” which the label hailed as a new direction for Rae – the B-side, “Rachel”, was written by future Refugee exponent Myles Hunter. However, the following year he found himself on Mel Shaw’s Music World Creation touting another Hunter tune, “Hold On To the Night”, also to no effect. His final solo record was the Hot Line Records release “Take No Prisoners In the Game of Love”. In 1989 he teamed up with Saga members Jim Gilmour and Steve Negus under his real name Robert Bevan in the Gilmour-Negus Project (GNP) who released one album for Virgin Records. Following this Rae became an entertainer in the Canadian club scene doing bawdy versions of cover tunes with The Robbie Rae Band. This led to steady gigs in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) entertaining American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. In October 1999, Rae moved to Thailand (Kamala Beach – Phuket) where he invested in his own outdoor bar as well as singing in Patong with a new band. On December 26, 2004 Rae went missing as one of many victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster when Phuket was devastated by flooding. He was located a short time later safe and sound and resumed work at the Tai Pan Club. However, on February 9, 2006 Rae succumbed to liver and kidney failure in Phuket Hospital. He was 52 years old. http://youtu.be/v-FjctiAIn8

SECRETS, The (aka DOUGLAS RANKINE & THE SECRETS)
Originally known as The Bob Mark Six, this Toronto band was signed to Arc Records and became The Secrets. They released “Crying Over Her” on ARC Records which helped raise their profile and get them better live bookings. While playing at the Toronto Pressmen’s Club, CBC TV’s Brian MacFarland introduced himself to the band and wanted them to record a song he’d written for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Eddie Shack called “Clear The Track (Here Comes Shack)”. The band agreed under the assumption that the recording was a gift for McFarland’s hockey playing friend. However, much to their surprise, and that of their label ARC Records, the song was released nationally under the name Douglas Rankine With The Secrets on RCA’s Canadian International label. The band was embarrassed by the release and tried to distance themselves from it despite reaching No.1 on the CHUM Chart in February 1966 and managing No.56 on the national charts by April of 1966 for total run of nine weeks radio play. After being signed to Arc’s Yorkville Records imprint, the Secrets wanted to distance themselves from being pigeon-holed as a “novelty act” and soon changed their name to The Quiet Jungle. Their first single, “Ship Of Dreams”, was released in early 1967, and reached No.31 on the CHUM chart (and No.43 nationally) by February. The record achieved the desired effect in leaving the previous single a memory and gave the band a renewed spirit. However, booking for the band meant the focus of everyone’s interest at shows soon turned to the inevitable requests to play “Clear The Track”. As young musicians with dreams of stardom, this was bitter sweet as bookings and the band’s pay were getting bigger but they couldn’t shake the monkey from their back. Their next single for Yorkville, “Too Much In Love”, failed to chart. Quiet Jungle was also used as a house-band for the label and they released two albums of cover tunes including a Monkees’ tribute album and ‘The Story of Snoopy’s Christmas’. It should be noted that despite mythology to the contrary, Quiet Jungle was not the backing band on Arc’s other bargain remake LP “Let’s Spend The Night Together” featuring all Rolling Stones cover tunes. Rankine’s photo graces the cover, but the band did not appear on it. They even appeared on the TV show ‘After Four’ and its spin-off compilation album under yet another pseudonym – the Scarlet Ribbon. After four years playing and being on the road, Woodruff departed the group leaving them as a four-piece. But a year after that, Rankine felt he had climaxed as a vocalist and was aware that he would never become the world’s greatest singer and soon left the band. The remaining three members brought in Rising Sons member Ron Canning and a new vocalist (name unknown). The group lasted less than a year after that. Mark is a retired teacher and lives in Haliburton ; Felstead lives in the Oshawa region working in the cable TV business; Woodruff still lives in Toronto and was last working in the private investigation business; Thalor still performs and has been in a Doors tribute band; Rankine created a Scarborough, Ontario video distribution company designated for “mature” audiences. His company was cited in an Edmonton obscenity trial in 1985 after the Towne Cinema Theatre was charged with breaking obscenity laws under the criminal code. http://youtu.be/QqvNfez5zBA

39 STEPS
39 Steps – named after the classic Hollywood movie of he same name – evolved out of the ashes of Montreal punk band 222’s. In 1984, six months after their formation, they recorded and released a self-titled EP on Line Records. With a move to New York City instigated by ex-Montreal patriot and manager Steven Shipp (Bootsauce, Cycle Sluts From Hell), they answered a cattle call in 1985 for a band to appear in Woody Allen’s movie ‘Hannah And Her Sisters’. They sent a tape and photo, auditioned for Allen and ended up performing their song “Slip Into The Crowd” at CBGB’s in the movie. After touring the EP and gaining MTV exposure, a full length album called ‘Slip Into The Crowd’ followed in 1987 on RCA Records out of New York. They were soon dropped by RCA and then signed to Chrysalis in 1989, but Chrysalis wanted another hair-metal band like Slaughter to add to their roster and 39 Steps took exception to the insult. Despite recording a new record with Blondie’s Chris Stein, no album was released and a protracted two year battle ensued. 39 Steps decided to wait out the length of the contract. In 1991, Joan Jett saw the band and became a fan. The group still had control over the Chris Stein material and headed back into the studio with Jett’s producer John Alosa and engineer Glen Robinson (13 Engines, GWAR, VoiVod) to produce their long awaited follow up entitled ‘Neon Bible’ in 1993. The record was released on Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna’s Blackheart Records. “(All Roads Lead To) Babylon” was released as the single/video which received moderate rotation on MTV, but it seemed that 39 Steps aggro-rock had passed its prime with the onslaught of the grunge movement which effectively buried their final output – 1995’s ‘Nude In the City’ EP. http://youtu.be/6LatS6Bz2fQ

URGENT
Short lived act playing around the Southern Ontario bar circuit featuring Doug Baynham (vocals, bass) , Kim Hunt (drums, percussion) , Wayne Siberry (guitars) , and John McGoldrick (keyboards; live). They sent a three song demo to record labels and were signed to Epic Records in the Spring of 1983. Their only album, ‘Timing’, was produced by Glen Johansen (Martha & The Muffins, Eddie Grant, Nash the Slash) and featured guest appearances by Stacy Heydon (guitar) and Sheriff/Frozen Ghost member Arnold Lanni (synthesizers). The single “You’re Not the One” was released and cracked the RPM Singles Top20 chart. Urgent toured for nearly a year promoting the album, but were dropped amongst an administrative re-shuffling at CBS Records; Kim Hunt joined Hanover Fist who were signed to MCA Records. But the label put the band on hold and so Hunt and Hanover Fist’s Chris Brockway recruited Urgent’s Doug Baynham to form Mach IV in 1985 who managed to place a song on that year’s Q107 Homegrown album. Hanover Fist fell apart and Mach IV eventually became a Foreigner tribute band Dirty White Boys; Hunt would go on to join a reformed version of Moxy in the late 1990s. http://youtu.be/NrB5FRgbAGk

VALENTINE, Cindy
Cindy Valentine is the niece of movie director Sergio Leone and was born in Italy. She began singing at the age of 7 and at the age of 9 won a contest to record with an opera singer in Milan. Her father objected and so she ran away from home with a cousin to Milan. When she finally recorded in Milan, Canadian music producer Tony Green saw Valentine and agreed to work with her when she was old enough. She studied music at the Royal Conservatory of Milan. She relocated to Toronto, Ontario to pursue a music career under the management of Green. In 1984 Green helped her secure a record deal with Columbia Records. She released her Tony Green produced ‘Rock And Roll Heart Attack’ album that year. The record would spawn several singles – “Big Kiss”, “Make It Through the Night” and “Victim” (whose video featured actor Michael Damien). With a switch to Polydor/Polygram in 1987 she also dropped her rock roots in favour of dance music for her follow-up album ‘Secret Rendez-vous’ which was also produced by Tony Green. The album spawned two hits in the title track and “In Your Midnight Hour. Her final release was the single ‘Pick Up the Pieces (To My Heart)’ in 1989 on Arista Records and hit No.11 on the Billboard dance charts. She did make a guest appearance singing three songs on Jellybean Benitez’s 1991 ‘Spillin’ The Beans’ album as well as backing vocals on actor Corey Feldman’s 1994 ‘Love Left’ album and Yakoo Boyz in 1996. Since the 1990s she’s been writing songs for other artists – including Jennifer Finnegan’s hit song “One Beat Away” – has tried her hand as a filmmaker (writing and producing ‘Ruth’), as well as acting (‘Teen Witch’, ‘The Gentleman’, ‘The Pink Chiquitas’, ‘Mannequin’, ‘Due South’). She now uses her birth name when not making music but still uses Cindy Valentin when doing music production and fronting the band Anonymous. In 2005 she scored the Miramax DVD released ‘Backflash’ starring Robert Patrick and Melissa Joan Hart, and ‘Souvenir Views’ for at the Tribeca Film Festival as a short film feature. In December 2008 a new downloadable album was made available on iTunes entitled ‘Blame Yourself’. A ‘best of’ entitled ‘Speak Your Mind’ was released on iTunes in 2009. http://youtu.be/56xR7w3P4fg

WHITE, Michael
In 1976 Michael White was the lead singer for L.A. band The Boyz alongside future Dokken members George Lynch and Mick Brown. They were managed by music empresario Kim Fowley and often opened shows for Fowley’s other star act The Runaways. In short order The Boyz amassed a significant following of their own in the L.A. music scene. Both Van Halen and Quiet Riot were opening acts for them. On one occasion KISS’ Gene Simmons brought a rep from Casablanca Records to see the Boyz (but ended up helping Van Halen land their deal with Warner Brothers instead). Meanwhile The Boyz were getting reviews in the ‘L.A. Times’ pointing out the similarities between lead singer Michael White’s performing style/sound and that of Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. Alas, labels weren’t looking for another Led Zeppelin and in the wake of the punk explosion The Boyz split up. In 1977 White started a new band called LA Fox with future W.A.S.P. member Randy Piper but this band, too, was cited for their heavy Zeppelin similarities and a record deal eluded them. By late 1977, White started another band called The White with guitarist Lanny Cordola (Guiffria, House of Lords) and battled the same demons unwilling to move past White’s Robert Plant vocals. Eventually White was approached by Nikki Sixx to front his band London. White played with them for about 6 months before returning full-time to The White. (London would evolve into Motley Crue). Frustrated by the record companies’ rejection of the band, Michael decided if he sounded like Robert Plant and the music he wrote sounded too much like Led Zeppelin, he might as well try playing Led Zeppelin. The strategy succeeded and within a matter of weeks the band was selling out clubs all over Southern California. In 1979 The White played a string of Six Flag amusement parks across the United States resulting in their first taste of touring. In 1980, manager Tim Heyne (Canned Heat, Nickleback) helped The White launch a prolific period of touring that would extend over two decades. In 1983, White finally met Robert Plant in Denver, Colorado while Plant was on his ‘Principal of Moments’ tour. Plant was familiar with The White and actually wore the band’s T-shirt on stage at one of his shows and wore it in a picture printed in Cream Magazine. Plant made a call to Atlantic Records’ West Coast office to give them a heads up about White. Meanwhile White had already been busy recording demos with producer Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones) which finally sealed White a deal with Atlantic in 1985. Simultaneously, The White’s popularity was gaining momentum. They played 3 sold out performances in one night at the Rainbow Music Theatre in Denver, where attendance exceeded 4500 people and surpassed Aerosmith’s attendance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre the same night. In 1986 Atlantic flew the band to Germany to record at Musicland Studios with producer Mack (Led Zeppelin, Queen, ELO, Billy Squier). Recorded over a period of eight months, ‘Michael White’ was released in the spring of 1987. The album garnered reviews and interviews with Billboard Magazine and Kerrang Magazine amongst a litany of newspapers and other music periodicals throughout North America and Europe. Still, White couldn’t shake the the Led Zeppelin comparisons. Nonetheless, the band garnered a top ten hit on Q107-FM in Toronto, Ontario with the song “Psychometry”. In another twist, White was asked to record with the German band Accept who were briefly auditioning new vocalists. During this period White met with Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart) and recorded with John Sykes’ (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) band Blue Murder. White was in demand and nearly joined Vinnie Vincent’s (KISS) solo band. White also managed to find time do some incidental music for the 1987 film ‘The Lost Boys’ by request of WEA Records. In 1988, White moved to Toronto, Ontario and in 1989 was signed to Griffin Records out of Chicago to record another album called ‘Michael White/The White’. This album had regional success across the United States and Canada, but would also enjoy success in Europe and Asia. In 1993, The White traveled to England to perform the Led Zeppelin tribute at the Capital Radio Music Festival, then the biggest music festival in the world. While there, they shared the stage with Eric Clapton, Elton John, Prince and James Brown. In 1994 another album was released on Griffin Records entitled ‘Michael White Plays the Music of Led Zeppelin’. In the summer of 2003, Q107 radio in Toronto began playing “Psychometry” again from the Atlantic album that had been out of print since 1988. It worked its way into rotation and started getting requests. On the merit of the airplay and response, Atlantic Records re-mastered the album under White’s supervision and re-released the album on CD in Sept 2003. It was carried by all of the major CD stores in Canada including Wal-Mart and hit the Canadian SoundScan sales charts on December 07, 2003 in the Top200. In 2004 White contributed lead vocals to an incomplete bed-track by late singer/songwrite Andrew Gold’s rendition of The Beatles ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ for the Bullseye CD ‘It Was 40 Years Ago Today: A Tribute to the Beatles’. In August of that year Michael White would form a band specifically to host the CD release party of this triple disc set at The Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto. During the last few years White has re-envisioned his Led Zeppelin tribute with The White and toured successfully with the stage show ‘The Orchestral Zeppelin’ as well as spearheading Q107 FM’s ‘Discography Series’ where Michael White & The White would play complete versions of Led Zeppelin albums. When not performing with The White or his all-purpose Q107-FM house band called Animal House, Michael White is busy with the operation his Toronto recording studio (Under the White House), producing and arranging for many top US and Canadian recording artists such as Cats & Dogs, ‘Mars: The NASA Mission Reports – Volume 2’, Robert LePage’s ‘Far Side of the Moon’ soundtrack’, music for Showtime Network’s ‘Ruby’s Bucket of Blood’, conducted radio edits on the ‘Eileen Shania Twain’ archive album for Limelight Records, produced the Top20 Canadian hit “What’cha Got” by Carlos Morgan, and has produced six soundtrack albums for Griffin Records. http://youtu.be/ZgQW-zCc5zs

XR7
An anonymous synth-pop project by Aldo Caporuscio who is better known internationally as rock guitarist and songwriter Aldo Nova. A 12” single of the song “XR7” was released on Quality Records shortly before Nova was signed to CBS Records as a pop rock guitarist. The instrumental version of “XR 7″ appeared on several 12” bootleg compilations in Europe in the 1980s and officially on Milestone Records’ compilation ‘The Original Masters – From The Past, Present And Future Vol.3’. Nova has never acknowledged its existence. http://youtu.be/UWtOCXpFntw

YOUNG, Astrid
Astrid Young is the half-sister of Neil Young (they share the same father). After Neil bought Astrid her first guitar in the 1970s she was intent on learning how to play. By the early 1980s she was testing the waters in many projects starting with an appearance playing bass and singing on Ohm And The Secret Source’s EP ‘Exit From a Dream’. She then fronted the band Banana Hammock and recorded a self-titled album in 1986 on Target Records. Next, she was the lead vocalist in Los Angeles Glam band Sacred Child who released one album on Target Records in 1987. By the 1990s she began singing with Neil Young on his albums ‘Unplugged’, ‘Road Rock Vol. 1’ and the Grammy Award nominated ‘Harvest Moon’. In 1995 she released her first solo album, ‘Brainflower’. In 2002, she was playing bass and singing lead vocals in the short-lived rock band iST with David Kiner (guitar) an Dan Cornelius (drums) who released the album ‘Pokalolo Paniolo’ in May 2002. Material that didn’t fit on the iST album were spun off as Young’s second solo album entitled ‘Matinee’ also in May 2002. Young has also co-written and performed on record by Dramarama, Nancy Wilson, Ben Keith, Scott Joss, The Scrubbers, Ad Vanderveen, and Rebecca Trujillo among others. http://youtu.be/LXF49XYEGsg

ZAHALAN, Mary Lou
Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy was born in Renfrew, Ontario but raised in Oakville, Ontario. Zahalan was a Miss Canada finalist in 1976 before embarking on a career as an entertainer. She was a performing arts teacher at Oakville’s Sheridan College. She released two independent singles on various labels in 1981 and 1982 before signing with the Avalon label. Her debut album, ‘Think of Me’, was released in 1982 on the Avalon label which spawned two charting singles – “If I Had One Wish” and “Breaking Away”. She received a JUNO Award nomination in 1983 as ‘Most Promising Female Vocalist’. She formed her own label, Mazu, in 1985 and released the single “Call Me”. She wouldn’t release another full-length album until signing with Jeff Burns’ Justin Entertainment in 1990. Her ‘Zahalan’ album was released that year and featured the single “I Can’t Forget About You”. In January 2011, Zahalan graduated from Liverpool Hope University in England with a Masters Degree in a program that studied The Beatles called ‘The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’. She was in the first graduating class of the program. Her dissertation paper has since been turned into a book entitled ‘Cultural Capital: The Beatles In Canada’. http://youtu.be/MV816zBcze4

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

– Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com

3 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – THE UNTOLD STORIES OF CANADIAN POP: EH THRU ZED”

  1. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire
    someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks a lot

  2. Cherrill Yates Says:

    Hi
    Cherrill Rae here… nice blog…very nice bit on Robbie Rae and for once most of it was accurate. As I read through some of the others I got a little nostalgic… so much water under the bridge. I like your approach and your writing style…staraight to the point and very informational…Thank you

  3. Corinne osko Says:

    More on bb gabor please ! I have a fb page for him called bb gabor music and stories he was great ! R I p

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