Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – X Marks The Spot

CamI have many X’s in my life; ex-jobs, ex-clients, ex-wife, ex-etera.

There are not a lot of X bands on my iTunes.

Of course X is there, as are XTC, The XX, Xavier Cugat (yes, really), X-Ray Spex, “Bobcast” house band Xprime and a couple of others I don’t even recognize (via label samplers).

Being a good publicist I can spin an X into anything I want. Here we go.

This Saturday night ex-members of The Vinnie Vincent Invasion will be performing at The Phoenix in Toronto as Slaughter returns to the city Dana and Markfor the first time in many a year. I think the last time they played here was at a long forgotten rock bar on the corner of Ossington and Queen. The first time I met Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum was at Rock’n’Roll Heaven when they performed with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (featuring the ex-Kiss member). Vinnie was pretty much a dick but Mark, Dana and I remain friends to this day.  The drummer of the band was Bobby Rock who I would later work with when he drummed for Nelson (he was ex-VVI member by that time).  It was pretty obvious at that the chemistry of the VVI was not what it should be and soon Slaughterenough the boys recruited Blais Elias on drums and Tim Kelly on guitar and formed Slaughter. Success was almost immediate as the boys toured with any band that would have them and before you knew it “Stick It To Ya” was platinum. We were having a worldwide Chrysalis convention in London back in 1991 I believe and, after finding out Slaughter would be touring England at the time, decided to head over a Cam Bandanafew days earlier and hit the road with them for a couple of dates.  After a long night in Nottingham we arrived in London and headed over to the hotel for the opening night cocktail party. There was no time to change so I arrived with the band wearing shorts, docs, my leather Slaughter tour jacket and my ever present skull bandana wrapped over my quickly balding lid. Back in the early nineties we spend a lot of time on the phone and when dealing with label heads in foreign territories a lot of us did not know what each other looked like. I could figure out a few of the key folks and immediately knew who Chris Wright, founder of Chrysalis..Picture by GLENN COPUSChris Wright was when he came over to shake my hand. Chris is the “Chrys” in Chrysalis and founded the label with Terry Ellis back in 1969. From humble beginnings with Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Procol Harem the little label grew into an industry powerhouse. I was thrilled to chat with Chris but soon realized that he was under the impression I was a member of the band. Not sure of what to say I let it go and hoped he would be at The Marquee later that night to see the band.  My story was the source of much amusement amongst the Chrysalis staff.

Tim KellySadly the band lost guitar player Tim Kelly to a horrific car accident in Arizona in 1998. Tim and I had many laughs over the years, (he once thought I was driving 125 MPH to a Barrie radio station not knowing that Canada had converted to the metric system)  and I used to love it when he pulled out his Bart Simpson Strat. He was ultimately replaced by Jeff Blando (who will be with the band Saturday night) and after recording a couple of more albums the band started to lay low. There was the odd festival date, cruise and summer tour but as the 2000`s rolled on activity slowed. Blas Elias left Vince and Danathe band and joined the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas,  Mark Slaughter moved down to Nashville to work as a songwriter and voice-over artist and Dana stayed in Vegas where he manages Vince Neil and also plays bass in Vince’s band. We still manager to hook-up whenever Motley or Vince is in town. Looking forward to seeing the lads Saturday night.


As I sit here typing I am monitoring the launch of Indie 88.1 ( in Toronto. This is ex-CKLN (for those of you keeping with the theme). After a week or so of being “Rick Rolled” (look it up) they started things off with the rather appropriate “Ready To Start” by Arcade Fire. With what I have heard so far they seem to be on the money with the hiring of PD Adam Thompson away from Sonic in Edmonton.  I met Adam recently at the Bovine Tiki Bar and we had a quick gab about the station and I was impressed by his ideas and love of music.

Within the first hour of programming there has been a good mix of new (July Talk,), recent (Mgmt., Broken Social Scene, Stars, Spoon, The White Stripes) and, I guess, what is now vintage (The Clash, Pixies, Talking Heads). “Hurt” from Johnny Cash was a nice surprise in the first hour.

tweeting-handAs I listen I am also watching reactions on Twitter and Facebook and if initial indications are to believed it looks like The Edge could be looking over their shoulders. There was some fast and fierce reaction when they spun Mumford & Sons as it seems a lot of people are pulling a Coldplay on the band right now. I guess there is a thing about too much exposure.  It might be the shot in the arm that station needs as they have been flying solo (with the exception of campus and satellite radio) for far too long. Tom+Waits

CBC Radio 3 and SiriusXm’s The Verge have proven that you can format a very listenable radio station with the majority of music being Canadian. I am certainly going to stay tuned for a while and see where this station takes me. Also, even though there don’t have a lot of wattage the signal is very clean in the east end of Toronto. Geez, if they play a Tom Waits song for Wendi-Jane’s birthday today the station will never be turned off in the house.

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar. The bar and BBQ opens daily at 4 PM and the BBQ rocks until 10 PM. Cocktails available after 10. You can vote The Tiki Bar Toronto’s best patio here.

Follow Cam @CC59 on Twitter.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.


2 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – X Marks The Spot”

  1. EditButler Says:

    Indie88 = ex-CKLN. EX-actly! I hope they play unsigned bands.

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