Roxanne Tellier: My Toronto Part 3 – More Rockers: I’ll Never Forget Ol’ WhatsisName …

january roxanneLast week’s ramble down Toronto’s musical memory lane seems to have touched a chord in those who were there, or wish they had been. The list of other musicians and bands from the 70’s and 80’s, many of whom became friends, then or since, is endless. Such a roster of incredible talent! It’s heartening to see how many of those great players are still around, and still entertaining their fans, either on record or live.




reggie_no_country2It’s also incredibly sad to realize how many comrades fell by the wayside, passing away from either illness or natural causes, or from leading a life that included a little too much hard partying.  You don’t have to be a musician to die young, but it doesn’t hurt!

Like saxophonist Earl Seymour, who died in 1999 of a rare lung condition. Earl came to Toronto from Edmonton near the end of the 70’s, passing through Tommy Ambrose’s Big Band, The Boss Brass and the Gzowski 90 Minutes Live houseband, before joining David Clayton Thomas in Blood Sweat and Tears. Seymour was in great demand as a session player as well. He can be heard on albums by The Arrows, The Kings, Holly Cole, Teenage Head, Rough Trade, The Partland Brothers, Glass Tiger – and even on a Sharon, Lois and Bram cd. A handsome and incredibly talented man, he toronto music icons 1990swas everywhere, and very much loved and respected by his peers. He played with Prakash John’s The Lincolns, before putting together “The Men From U.N.C.L.E.” in 1989. An  11 piece R&B band with a six-piece horn section, fronted by Terry Hatty, they played the Toronto area for nearly eight years, until Seymour became too ill to continue.  In 1998, many of the best and most respected Toronto musicians gathered together for a benefit, and gave him a computer that he could use to keep in touch with his friends around the world. By this time, he was very ill, and living in Vancouver with family.

In this video, Earl joins The Arrows for their hit “The Heart of The City.” The 1986 Arrows lineup included vocalist Dean McTaggart, Rob Gusevs on keys, Doug Macaskill on guitar, Bobby Economou on drums, and my old friend and frequent bandmate Glenn Olive on bass and 80’s hair.

Prior to joining “The Men From U.N.C.L.E.,” Terry Hatty had been in numerous Canadian bands, including Toronto’s Devotion and Songship. His legendary vocal prowess kept him working nonstop, in ‘The Terry Hatty Band’, The Quivering Bumpkins’, ‘Warning’ and a reformation of ‘Ram,’ before he settled in with “The Men.”  Other members included Terry Promane,  Steve McDade and Dave Dunlop from The Boss Brass, the late Rick Tait (Manteca) on percussion,  drummer Mike Sloski and guitarist Kevin Breit. He later toured for six years with the Jim Kale and Garry Peterson version of The Guess Who. He’s living in P.E.I. these days, and still performing with his group, Terry Hatty and the Island Jazz Messengers.

Can’t find any videos of “The Men,” but here’s another terrific group Terry fronted – Off The Record. The lineup included Bernie LaBarge-guitar and vocals, Grant Slater on keys, Russ Boswell-bass and vocals and Paul DeLong on drums. Just your basic dream team, live at the Orbit Room in 2001.

Another important player in the same or similar vein was Domenic Troiano. Dom was not only a musical genius, he was one of the most downright nicest fellows you could ever meet. Robbie_Lane_and_the_DisciplesBorn in Italy, but raised in Toronto’s East End, his guitar artistry was in demand with everyone from the James Gang to The Guess Who. His first proper gig was with Robbie Lane & The Disciples, who had been hired as Ronnie Hawkins’ backup band. (And many years later, Robbie Lane would manage my first Toronto group, Tangents. Such a small world.)

Troiano soon left Robbie’s band to join The Five Rogues (George Olliver, bass player Don Elliot, keyboard player Josef Chirowski and drummer Pentti Glan) which shortly thereafter changed their name to Mandala. That formation scored a hit with the song “Opportunity.” Later, Olliver and Chirowski were replaced by Roy Kenner and Henry Babraj, and hit the Top Ten again with their song “Love-it is.” In 1969, Mandala disbanded, but Troiano, Kenner, Sullivan and Glan, with the addition of bassist Prakash John, re-emerged as Bush. The song “I Can Hear You Calling,” from Bush’s only album, was covered by Three Dog Night.

troiano lp best ofWhen Bush folded, Troiano replaced Joe Walsh in the James Gang, before joining The Guess Who as lead guitarist, and Burton Cummings writing collaborator. But soon he was back in Toronto, playing in the Domenic Troiano Band, writing music for television shows like “Night Heat,” and doing session work for the likes of Moe Koffman, Joe Cocker, James Cotton and Long John Baldry.  (Wikipedia supplied most of this info)

Here’s how I remember him best. From the album “Fret Fever,” he’s joined here by Roy Kenner, Paul DeLong on drums, and Rob Gusevs on keys. Yep, those names again, always the usual suspects.  This would seem to have been recorded at the venerable El Mocambo.

Can’t think of the El Mo without thinking about its College and Spadina location. Oh, the hours I spent in and around that club and area. In fact, my very first ‘date’ after arriving in Toronto was at the Upstairs El Mocambo. I forget what band was meant to be playing that night, but I do remember that the band that filled in for them was The Chambers Brothers. Maybe it was the times, maybe it was the drugs, but for some reason they played their one big hit “Time,” over and over ad infinitum for pretty much a whole set.

I left our table to freshen up in the Ladies, and then had to find my way back to my seat, in the dark, and with my terrible eyesight. I had only met my date one other time before, so I thought I’d just look for his leather jacket, which he’d draped over his chair. Found him! Sat down beside him and started jabbering away, as I do, when I suddenly realized that this was not my date at all. In fact, my date was looking at me, chatting away with this stranger, and wondering how the heck I’d already managed to run into someone I knew after having only been in Toronto for just a few days. I apologized to the stranger, and found my way back to my real table. And somehow bluffed my way through yet another Mr Magoo moment … How do you get to the El Mo? Take the Spadina Bus!

The Shuffle Demons – Spadina Bus (86)

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.





5 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier: My Toronto Part 3 – More Rockers: I’ll Never Forget Ol’ WhatsisName …”

  1. Gerry Mosby Says:

    Lovely reminiscence! In ’85, I had the pleasure of co-writing ‘Heart of the City’ with The Arrows’ leader/lead singer, Dean McTaggart, and met Earl at that time, when the band recorded and released the master version. I did many sessions with him in the 80s and 90s, and he was the best of the best. Interestingly, I befriended young Terry Hatty when he was the lead singer of Devotion in the mid 70s, and thru the years, did many sessions with him as well. While in The Guess Who, he sang a song that Alfie Zappacosta and I wrote, Sweet Liberty. Terry was and still is a great singer.

  2. Another killer blog, Roxanne. You’ve pulled some names of many uncredited guys who made the music buzz.

  3. Jim Chisholm in Cambell River Says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. There are some great people and music to be discovered and uncovered.

  4. alexander mair Says:

    I think you dismissed Dom’s role in the Guess Who too quickly. They did three albums together…

  5. The band Earl Seymour was with before coming to Toronto was the Tommy BANKS band out of Edmonton. Tommy Ambrose was a singer in the Toronto area.

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