Events in Canadian Rock
For the month of
May 1, 1939 - Judy Collins was born. Though she is not Canadian, having been born in Seattle and raised in Denver, she was a great friend to Canadian songwriters, most notably, Joni Mitchell, whose Both Sides Now became a major hit for Collins; Ian Tyson, from whom she borrowed Someday Soon; and Leonard Cohen, who has also had his songs covered by one of the purest voices in the world.
May 1, 1971 - R. Dean Taylor peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Gotta See Jane. The Canadian was signed as a staff writer to Motown's publishing arm, but recorded for their rock subsidiary Rare Earth, which was also the home of the band that had the same name. His biggest hit was Indiana Wants Me, and he is, reportedly, now living in retirement in Hawaii.
May 1, 1971 - Joey Gregorash peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Jodie. Nobody was prepared to stand up and hail the Winnipeger as a great artist, but he was, most certainly, a successful artist. After his recording career slowed down he spent some time as a deejay in Winnipeg radio, and still writes and records as an indie artist today.
May 1, 1973 - Bachman- Turner Overdrive, featuring former Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman, releases its first LP. The album takes six months to chart and it's a year before the first single "Let it Ride," becomes a Top 25 hit.
May 2, 1945 - Goldy McJohn was born. He joined the other members of the Sparrow on their journey south of the border in the late 60s, staying with them as keyboard player through the majority of their heyday under the name of Steppenwolf. McJohn, reportedly, was once escorted from a party where the Stones were the guests of honour when, a little in his cups, he asked Mick and Keith why they had drowned Brian Jones. No idea where he is now, but it's unlikely that he'll be playing piano on the next Stones tour.
May 2, 1981 - Rush peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Limelight. This marked the first time that any of their singles had cracked the top 20, prior to this they had been thought of primarily as an album rock act. Now that the door had been opened it would only take a year and a half before they would reach #1 on the singles listings.
May 2, 1983 - Bryan Adams peaked in the Canadian top ten with Cuts Like a Knife. This was Adams' commercial breakthrough, and represented not only his first Canadian top ten track but also his first charted single in the United States and Europe. There would be no stopping him from this point on as he would go on to become the most successful Canadian rock solo artist of all time.
May 2, 1983 - Red Rider peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Human Race. The band was still floundering somewhat in terms of chart success, and it would be fair to say that they were somewhat inconsistent. The amazing thing is that Capitol Records stood by the band and, later, their lead singer and main songwriter Tom Cochrane until, almost a decade later, Tom would finally experience an international gold and platinum success with Life Is a Highway. It didn't hurt that Capitol's A&R director, Deane Cameron, had been the drummer in Tom's first incarnation as a solo artist in the mid-70s on Daffodil Records, nor would it hurt that Deane became president of EMI, Capitol's successor. None of this is meant, in any way, to suggest that Tom did not deserve such support.
May 2, 1994 - 54/40 peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Blame Your Parents. This marked the first time ever, after almost 14 years of recording, that they actually charted in the singles charts other than a low placing for One Day In Your Life in the late 80s.
May 3, 1965 - The Regents peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Me and You.
May 3, 1965 - JB & the Playboys peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Don't Ask Me To Be True. This band was one of the hottest on the Montreal rock scene, and, unlike many others of the time, sang in English, though the lineup did include some French speakers. Allan Nichols was the lead singer, Doug West on drums, Andy Kaye on rhythm guitar and vocals, Bill Hill on lead guitar and vocals and Louis Yachnin on bass who, eventually, ended up replacing Grant Fullerton in Lighthouse where he remained for many years.
May 3, 1969 - Jimi Hendrix was arrested entering Canada when a vial of heroin was discovered on his person. When it finally came to trial a few months later, he got off on the defence that fans were always putting things in his pockets and that he remembered someone doing so as he was about to embark for Toronto, and never bothered to check to see what it might be. The judge found that believable, and dismissed the charges.
May 3, 1971 - Ocean were presented with a gold record for their version of Put Your Hand in the Hand. The gospel tune had been written by Gene MacLellan and recorded, initially, but Anne Murray. Ocean, from London, recorded for the same label that Anne did, and picked up the tune as a potential single when she left Arc Records for Capitol. The result, an international top ten, and a couple more years of hits in Canada.
May 3, 1971 - New York City's Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center announces it will begin presenting rock, pop and jazz concerts as well as its usual classical fare. Among the first non-classical artists booked are Carole King, Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot.
May 3, 1975 - Paul Anka topped the Canadian charts with I Don't Like to Sleep Alone. This track, part of a brief comeback in his career as a recording artist, featured a young talent named Odia Coates on backing vocals, as did quite a few others at this time. Odia got full credit on You're Having My Baby, as she deserved, and helped Anka reach a younger audience more interested in rhythm and blues than the style he had been using up to this time.
May 3, 1975 - Gordon Lightfoot peaked in the Canadian top ten with Rainy Day People.
May 3, 1978 - FM, a film about the battle between progressives and regressives at a radio station, debuts in Los Angeles. The soundtrack features Steely Dan, Steve Miller, the Ea gles, Neil Young, Billy Joel and Warren Zevon. More people get their hands on the soundtrack than see the film.
May 3, 1993 - The Barenaked Ladies peaked in the Canadian top 20 with their humourous tribute to the Beach Boys' main man, Brian Wilson. When Wilson performed at Molson Amphitheatre, Steven Page was at the front of the seats and when Wilson opened with his own version of this song, Page went nuts, as would anyone when a hero performs one of your own songs.
May 4, 1945 - George Wadenius of Blood Sweat and Tearswas born.
May 4, 1968 - Andy Kim entered the US charts with one of his own songs, Baby How'd We Ever Get This Way.
May 4, 1970 - At Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, the national guard lost their cool and killed some student protestors. Canadian Neil Young, hearing the news, immediately wrote the song Ohio and called the rest of his group, CSNY, into the studio. The track was released within a week, and charted within two weeks of the event.
May 4, 1987 - Gowan peaked in the Canadian top ten with Moonlight Desires, featuring the guest vocals of Jon Anderson of Yes. The connnection was producer David Tickle, who had worked with Jon previously, but Larry's feeling must have been somewhat equivalent to that of Steven Page in a preceding entry, as Gowan had spent years on the road with his own band, Rhinegold, covering Yes and many other Brit bands.
May 4, 1987 - Glass Tiger peaked in the Canadian top 30 with I Will Be There, capping an extremely successful debut album for the band. The track was also their third US charter, although it fell short of the success of Don't Forget Me and Someday, both of which had made the top ten.
May 4, 1987 - Gino Vannelli peaked in the Canadian top ten with Wild Horses, making his comeback, begun with Black Cars, a most successful one. Oddly enough, the momentum he built with these two top ten tracks was not maintained and he once again faded back in to the Where Are They Now file.
May 4, 1987 - Lee Aaron, in an attempt to change her image, peaked in the Canadian charts with Only Human, a song co-written by Dan Hill. The metal queen image was no longer serving her well, she felt, and she had to expand her audience. Though she created her most artistically satisfying album ever up to that time, her fans would have none of it, preferring the raunchy rocker over the pop rocker.
May 5, 1962 - Bobby Curtola entered the US charts with Fortuneteller, one of his biggest Canadian hits. Measuring Bobby's domestic success can only be done on a local basis, as his hits, generally, preceded the founding of RPM, our first national listings. Suffice it to say that he was big enough to do commercials for Coca Cola, as a featured star, and his tours sold out arenas from coast to coast long before arena rock was a common thing. He still works, albeit in smaller rooms, and maintains a loyal following of fans, most of whom are now grandmothers but remember their very own Canadian teen idol.
May 5, 1968 - One of the most important bands in rock history, Buffalo Springfield, announced that they had broken up. Neil Young, one of the two main creative forces in the band, had already left a couple of times before this date, but now moved straight into a solo career, augmented by a membership in CSNY, which also included Buffalo Springfield's other creative force, Stephen Stills. Richie Furay, the third writer in the group, formed Poco, and between the three of them, they set the template for the California folk-rock sound that would culminate in the Eagles.
May 6, 1967 - The Staccatoes peaked in the Canadian top ten with Half Past Midnight. The track was a very sophisticated piece of pop music that foreshadowed the direction they would be taking when they changed their name a couple of years later to the Five Man Electrical Band. They are also on one side of one of the most collectable pieces of vinyl ever produced in this country, with some early Guess Who tracks making up the other side.
May 6, 1972 - According to the British pop press, the most important female vocalist in the world was Joni Mitchell, and, on this date, she headlined the Royal Festival Hall in London, England, with Jackson Browne as her opening act. Interestingly enough, in the same poll that named her the #1 female performer, Neil Young won for male vocalist.
May 6, 1996 - Celine Dion topped the Canadian charts with Because You Loved Me. By this time Celine was one of the biggest stars in the world, and her achievements in this year would lead to her being honoured, alongside Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain with an International Achievement special Juno.
May 6, 1996 - The Tragically Hip entered the Canadian charts with Ahead By a Century. By this time, the one-time club kings of Canada were headlining their own national festival tours, featuring well-known international acts like Midnight Oil in support.
May 7, 1990 - Alannah Myles peaked in the Canadian top ten with Lover of Mine. Her first album was a wonderful piece of work. Her second was pretty good, but nobody was interested anymore. This time, it had less to do with the music and more to do with her own self-absorbed attitude.
May 7, 1990 - Burton Cummings peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Take One Away. This was Burton's first top 20 hit in over nine years, but it wasn't because people didn't care. In fact, Burton did not record an album for nine years, although it must be noted that the first three singles of his "comeback" didn't fare that well. This one stuck.
May 8, 1965 - The Guess Who entered the US charts with Shakin' All Over.
May 8, 1976 - Valdy peaked in the Canadian charts with Yes I Can. It was taken from an album called Valdy and the Hometown Band. The band was an assemblage of some of the finest players on the west coast, including Claire Lawrence and Shari Ulrich, and the new rich sound marked, perhaps, the finest work Valdy had done, but the charts didn't reflect it. Peter and Lou was also taken from this same album.
May 8, 1976 - Heart peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Crazy on You. There are probably few Canadian debut albums that were as strong as Dreamboat Annie, with not only this song but Magic Man and the title track to help the band establish their identity.
May 8, 1981 - Loverboy have a gold album with their debut.
May 8, 1989 - Candi peaked in the Canadian top 10 with Love Makes No Promises, then, soon, returned to the Italian wedding circuit.
May 9, 1914 - Hank Snow was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He made his first recordings for RCA in Montreal, and within a few short years was pursuing his career in the United States. He was a country legend by the late 1940s, and among his career highlights, besides countless #1 songs, include being covered by the Rolling Stones (I'm Moving On); managing Elvis Presley (early in his career); and parenting the Reverend Jimmie Rodgers Snow, who is only well-known for being the first member of the religious right to recognise the insidious thing that rock and roll was, and for organising record burnings and smashing. Hank is a legend, while his son is an idiot, completely unwitting of his role in the growth of the music's popularity.
May 9, 1944 - Richie Furay, guitarist with Buffalo Springfield and Poco, is born.
May 9, 1970 - The Guess Who peaked at #1 on the Canadian charts with the double sided hit American Woman/No Sugar Tonight.
May 9, 1974 - Four years to the day after American Woman hit #1, Randy Bachman picked up a gold record, along with the rest of his new band, Bachman Turner Overdrive, for their second album, cleverly titled BTO II. Probably, with little fear of contradiction, the best hard rock band of their day, and, perhaps, the best hard rock band in Canadian music history, using success and excellence as a measure.
May 9, 1996 - Eria Fachin, an independent vocalist of great ability, died before her career truly managed to cross over to the mainstream.
May 11, 1968 - Gordon Lightfoot took a broadside at the Detroit race riots when Black Day in July peaked in the Canadian charts on this day. This was a period in time when Gord was trying to contemporise his sound, as witnessed by another single from the same time frame called Go Go Round. He would still have to wait a few years before becoming a bona fide popstar beyond these borders.
May 11, 1974 - Ian Thomas peaked in the Canadian charts with Come the Son, the second single of his solo career. It fell one spot short of the top 40, but helped to establish his long career on the Canadian charts.
May 11, 1974 - Lois Fletcher peaked in the Canadian top 20 with a little piece of bubblegum called I Am What I Am.
May 11, 1996 - The Tragically Hip release their Trouble at the Henhouse CD. The band was, by this album, already getting a little more introspective in their material, but maintained the rock roots that had taken them this far.
May 11, 1997 - The Headstones entered the Canadian charts with what is, probably, their best known radio track, Smile and Wave. Certainly, it can not be argued, it was their most commercial single up to that point.
May 12, 1968 - Jimi Hendrix is arrested for possession of hashish and heroin as he crosses the Canadian border for a concert in Toronto. He claims the drugs were planted and he is later exonerated.
May 12, 1969 - The Cowsills topped the Canadian charts with their version of the title track from the Tribal Love Rock Musical, Hair. That show, with the music written by Canada's Galt MacDermott, was a gold mine of hit records, with other tracks like Good Morning Starshine and Aquarius also becoming major hits.
May 12, 1973 - Keith Hampshire topped the Canadian charts with his version of First Cut Is the Deepest. In Britain it had been a hit for P.P. Arnold and the Nice (working together), and Keith, who worked as a deejay in the UK, brought the track to Canada. It was a hit again, about a year or so later, when Rod Stewart covered it and, effectively, buried Keith's version despite its #1 placing.
May 12, 1979 - April Wine's Roller, which is, arguably, one of the best rock songs in their catalogue, peaked in the Canadian top 30 on this day. During this period, the band was also signed to Capitol US who were putting quite a bit of money into breaking them down there. They did well, appearing on a number of major tours but, sadly, it didn't last.
May 12, 1984 - M+M, previously known as Martha and the Muffins, peaked in the Canadian top 30 with their dance hit, Black Stations White Stations. Martha Johnson, and her partner Mark Gane, are still together, working largely outside the music business, but still maintaining their own home studio and still recording for some future release.
May 12, 1986 - Glass Tiger hit #1 on the Canadian charts with their first single. Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone also did quite well in the United States, but the band remains one of those who had a superstar career in this country while only making dents in the States, with a record company that didn't see quite what they had in Canada as germane to anything going on their at the time.
May 12, 1992 - Bryan Adams peaked in the Canadian top 10 with Do I Have to Say the Words.
May 12, 1996 - Spirit of the West held a special event at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver when they teamed up with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to perform a concert which was recorded and released and remains one of the most satisfying albums in their excellent catalogue.
May 13, 1912 - Gil Evans is born. The arranger was one of the most important figures in jazz music, most notably for the partnership he struck with Miles Davis more than 30 years ago which resulted in some of the most amazing albums in the genre, including Sketches of Spain. He is in the Grammy Hall of Fame for the projects he did with Miles and the Juno Hall of Fame as well. Most Canadians don't know about this musical giant, but he was, in fact, just that.
May 13, 1972 - April Wine peak at #2 in the Canadian charts with You Could Have Been a Lady. The song was not a group composition, coming instead from the catalogue of British pop band Hot Chocolate of You Sexy Thing fame. At this time, the band was being encouraged to record songs from outside the band, and, of course, the Brits were also the source of another of their hits around this time, Bad Side of the Moon, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
May 13, 1985 - Gowan peaked in the Canadian top 5 with A Criminal Mind. After years on the road fronting the band Rheingold, Larry was finally getting his chance and took full advantage of it, teaming up with David Tickle, and bringing in members of Peter Gabriel's band to fully realise the music he heard in his head.
May 13, 1991 - Rod Stewart peaked in the Canadian top ten with his version of Canadian writer Marc Jordan's Rhythm of My Heart. The song had been kicking around for years, but it wasn't until Jordan's partner, John Capek, brought it to Rod's attention that it got heard. Once heard, of course, it became a major hit on both sides of the border.
May 13, 1996 - I Mother Earth entered the Canadian charts with their Scenery & Fish CD. The band quickly established themselves as a major player in this country, and got attention south of the border as well but were constantly being compared to the other pronoun Canadian band Our Lady Peace. The best part of the band's story is that when lead singer Edwin left, and their management and label left with him, they found a new fella from Newfoundland and astounded the critics with their continued success.
May 14, 1953 - Tom Cochrane was born.
May 14, 1973 - Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina's first LP, "Sittin' In," goes gold. The two actually got together by accident. Messina was going to produce a solo effort for Loggins, but the two had such a rapport that Messina was persuaded to perform.
May 14, 1990 - Jane Child peaked in the Canadian top 20 with I Don't Want to Fall in Love. This one hit wonder had left Canada a few years earlier and ended up in New York City, where her debut album was recorded.
May 14, 1998 - Joni Mitchell, stage shy for a number of years, other than the occasional appearance at an event like the Edmonton Folk Fest, took to the stage of BC Place in Vancouver. The show was the first date of a five city tour. Nominal headliner was Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison opened the shows, but for many, the chance to see Joni perform was the key.
May 15, 1982 - Loverboy peak in the Canadian top 20 with When It's Over. Many songs are called power ballads, but few have the capacity to be both ballads and possess as much power as this song. The riff is dominant, but the melody is strong too. The majority of Loverboy's hits were hard driving up tempo tunes, but this one belongs among their rock classics, ballad or not.
May 15, 1989 - Colin James peaked in the Canadian chart with the ballad that brought fans outside of rock to his side, Why'd You Lie. The bluesy number was written by Morgan Davis, veteran of the Ontario bar scene.
May 16, 1964 - Lucille Starr entered the US charts with her biggest hit, The French Song. Recorded with her musical partner Bob Regan as the Canadian Sweethearts, the group identity was a little saccharine for her American label, A&M, so Bob took a back seat and his country-voiced partner had a pop hit south of the border.
May 16, 1966 - The Mamas and the Papas topped the Canadian chart with Monday Monday. Denny Doherty of Halifax was the lead vocalist on this one, whereas, on the previous hit, California Dreaming, the vocals had been spread, more or less, thoughout the group.
May 16, 1970 - Steppenwolf peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Hey Lawdy Mama. By this time they were firmly established south of the border and in other countries as one of the best hard rock bands around, though few knew, at the time, that their roots were in Canada. Lead singer, John Kay, had in fact come to Canada from Germany as a refugee of the cold war, but the rest of the original group were all Canucks. By the time this record was out, however, two Americans had joined the band to replace a couple of departed members.
May 16, 1970 - Lighthouse scored their first top 40 hit with The Chant.
May 16, 1970 - Edward Bear peaked in the Canadian top five with their breakthrough hit in this country You Me and Mexico. They were still a few months away from their biggest hit, The Last Song, and were still performing as a trio consisting of singer/drummer Larry Evoy, keyboard man Paul Weldon, and guitarist Danny Marks. Soon enough, Evoy would be out front, and Marks was back in the blues clubs leading his own outfit. Weldon went on to become a top album cover artist.
May 16, 1976 - A New York Company known as AB&D Productions takes out an ad in the New York Times to announce a four day Bicente nnial event at Philadelphia's JFK stadium. Scheduled to play are Chicago, Ike and Tina Turner, Rufus, Elvin Bishop, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Maxine Nightingale, the Band and the Beach Boys. The planned gala never takes place, as within two weeks all acts cancel or say no contracts had ever been signed.
May 16, 1981 - Anne Murray had another comeback when Blessed Are the Believers peaked in the Canadian top 20. It's little wonder that her international hits have been few in number when, even in Canada, she seems to do poorly, while still charting, for a few years before scoring another big hit.
May 16, 1994 - Celine Dion peaked in the Canadian top ten with Misled. This song was written for her by Barry Gibb, and there is an emotional piece of film footage when she is in the studio and the BeeGees listen to her performing a song that, whether you like it or not, she tore up and recreated before their eyes, to the song's advantage.
May 17, 1944 - Jesse Winchester is born in the United States. When it became obvious that he was going to have to do his duty for Uncle Sam, which in those days meant Vietnam, Jesse chose Canada. He's been doing time here ever since and despite being permitted now to live in the States, he continues to live in Quebec and make the occasional great record.
May 17, 1965 - David Clayton-Thomas peaked in the Canadian top 5 with his take on the blues, Walk That Walk. He and his band, at this time called the David Clayton-Thomas Five, appeared on the American television show Hullabaloo with this track.
May 17, 1975 - Bachman Turner Overdrive enter the US charts with Hey You. By this time they had been international stars for more than a year, proving that the change from soft rock Brave Belt to the belting BTO was a wise decision.
May 17, 1975 - April Wine peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Cum Hear the Band. The title was almost as cute as a later song called If You See Kay.
May 17, 1980 - Bryan Adams peaked in the Canadian charts with Hidin' From Love. While a definite improvement over his disco influenced hit of the previous year.
May 17, 1999 - Bruce Fairbairn, a Vancouver record producer who had risen from horn player in Prism, and its predecessor, The Seeds of Time, to working with the greats and making them greater, died of cancer. Among his clients, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, and many many more.
May 18, 1971 - The Band launch their first European tour in Rotterdam, Holland. The concludes June 3 at London's Royal Albert Hall.
May 18, 1974 - Bachman Turner Overdrive entered the US charts with Takin' Care of Business. As Burton Cummings said, this song is known all over the world. A super classic, and most of us know all the words.
May 18, 1992 - Big House peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Baby Doll. The band initially featured two transplanted Swedes from a punk act called Down Syndrome who teamed up with two Edmontonians...they recorded one album for BMG which spawned the "Baby Doll" single. They self-destructed before recording a follow-up.
May 18, 1995 - The Molson Amphitheatre opens on the lakefront in Toronto, effectively replacing the Ontario Place Forum, Exhibition Stadium, and Kingswood as the premiere site for live outdoor music in the area. First act was Bryan Adams.
May 19, 1973 - Skylark peak in the Canadian top ten with Wildflower. The nucleus of the band, based in Vancouver, are three players who had journeyed east to work with Ronnie Hawkins as the Elephant Band two years earlier. Bassist Steve Pugsley, vocalist B.J. Cooke, and keyboard player David Foster added such as Robbie King and Donnie Gerrard, among others, and scored internationally with this song, co-written by Doug Richardson. It proved to be Foster's entree into the Los Angeles scene and the group broke up soon after.
May 19, 1973 - Flying Circus peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Old Enough to Break My Heart. An Aussie band relocated to Canada with a couple of number ones under their belt. Colin Walker, the drummer works with stained glass these days, Terry Wilkonson, the bass player is all over college street.
May 20, 1972 - Day by Day, from the Original Soundtrack of the film Godspell, entered the US charts. Though it was an all-American effort in some respects, the star of the film was London, Ontario's Victor Garber, formerly of Sugar Shoppe, and more recently featured in such films as Titanic, Sleepless in Seattle, and others.
May 20, 1972 - The Guess Who entered the US charts with Guns Guns Guns. By this time, the guitar chair vacated by Randy Bachman had been covered by Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, and by the time they toured later in the year, Donnie McDougall had joined the band.
May 20, 1978 - Former Brutus guitarist Gerry Doucette peaked in the Canadian charts with his most memorable tune, Mama Let Him Play. He's had his hard times since, but is back on the road touring again, largely on the strength of this song alone.
May 20, 1991 - Glass Tiger peaked in the Canadian top five with Animal Heart. This was, for all intents and purposes, their last gasp, as members had begun to leave the band and Alan Frew was already preparing to begin his solo career.
May 20, 1991 - Celine Dion peaked in the Canadian top 20 with The Last to Know. Her greatest hits were still in her future, but this single let English Canada know that Quebec had a superstar who had the potential to become a star everywhere, which she did.
May 20, 1996 - 54/40 entered the Canadian charts with their Trusted By Millions CD.
May 20, 1996 - Amanda Marshall entered the Canadian charts with Falling From Grace. A discovery of Tom Stephens, manager and drummer for Jeff Healey, a great deal of time was spent developing her, and, from the age of 17 she was appearing on stage at various shows as opening act. Three years after signing her, the first album was released and she became, sort of, an overnight sensation.
May 21, 1970 - Less than a week after the event, Crosby Stills Nash & Young gather in the studio for a one day session to record Neil's Ohio. The song was inspired by the killing of four student protestors at Ohio's Kent State University by the National Guard, and is rush released, not to cash in, but to draw attention to the band's outrage at the slaughter.
May 21, 1977 - Patsy Gallant, the New Brunswick francophone who made it big in this country singing in English, peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Are You Ready for Love.
May 22, 1971 - Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, in a version by Matthews Southern Comfort, peaked in the Canadian top 5. MSC were not a Canadian band but a British group fronted by former Fairport Convention singer Ian Matthews. He went on to a solo career that gave him a hit in the 80s called Shake It, but this man with one of the nicest vocal deliveries ever is still only a footnote, if anything, to most people.
May 22, 1971 - Crowbar peaked in the Canadian top 10 with Oh What a Feeling. For awhile, they rode the wave of being the latest version of the Hawks to break away from Ronnie Hawkins, and with the publicity The Band were receiving at the time, great things were predicted for them. The band, however, could party, and probably partied themselves out by the time their third, and final album was released. Kelly Jay now lives in Alberta, but the remaining members get together for a gig once in awhile and are still great.
May 22, 1982 - Bryan Adams peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Fits Ya Good. Another of his classic riff rockers, this one has proven to be less memorable than many of the others.
May 22, 1989 - Sass Jordan peaked in the Canadian charts with Double Trouble, the third single from her debut album. At this time, Sass was a pop artist with rock potential. She moved to L.A. and became a rock singer by aligning herself with many of the finest musicians available at the time. She now lives near Orangeville, where she is raising a family, and recently released another album, her last for Aquarius.
May 22, 1989 - The Cowboy Junkies peaked in the Canadian charts with their version of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane. The band, 3/5ths of which consisted of a sister and her two brothers, became an overnight sensation as a result of this, taken from their album The Trinity Sessions, recorded, basically, live in a Toronto church, using a single microphone in the centre of the room. The success was repeated in the States. They now record independently.
May 23, 1980 - Max Webster peak in the Canadian charts with Paradise Skies. For all their success as, probably, the hottest band of their time in terms of live performance, Max Webster was challenged by the charts. They were always hot enough to chart, but not always hot enough to have a hit. Still, in Ontario at least, they were definitely it for a long time.
May 23, 1987 - Coincidentally, Kim Mitchell's In Your Arms peaked in the Canadian charts on this day, seven years later. Kim is the one true "Canadian" rocker, never concerned about trying to emulate the trend, be it, hair, roots, dance or whatever. He was just a hoser, like the rest of us.
May 24, 1938 - Tommy Chong was born. Long before he was one half of Cheech and Chong, Tommy was a guitar and bass player in bands in Edmonton and Vancouver. One of the bands was Little Daddy & the Bachelors, later better known as Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. He was also the "genius" behind such classic musical offerings as Blind Melon Chitlins, Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces, and Earache My Eye.
May 24, 1965 - Jack London peaked in the Canadian top ten with Our Love Has Passed.
May 24, 1965 - The Allen Sisters peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Remember the Face. These prairie beauties came from Edmonton and were the older sisters of Barry Allen who sang with Hammersmith following his own solo hits as a teen idol in the sixties.
May 24, 1968 - Andy Kim entered the US charts with one of his two Ronettes remakes, Baby I Love You. His producer was Jeff Barry who, conveniently wrote the song and its partner Be My Baby, among many other very big hit records. Andy got his chance though when he helped write Sugar Sugar, one of the biggest hits of the decade.
May 24, 1969 - Oliver entered the US charts with Good Morning Starshine. His real name was Bill Swofford and he was American, but the song gets the nod as it, like a few others mentioned previously, was from Hair, co-written by Canada's Galt McDermot.
May 24, 1997 - The Tragically Hip released their Live Between Us CD. It was their first live recording since a release near the beginning of their career, distributed only to certain radio stations. It had been a recording of a show at the Whiskey in Los Angeles, and proved to be a near ten minute version of one of their best known numbers with a long rap by Gord Downie regarding how a young man's girlfriend happened to be found dead of a gunshot with him being the only other person present at the time.
May 25, 1962- Paul Anka entered the US charts with Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine. Anka was not exactly consistent by this time in his career and this song, which did climb eventually to the top 20, used the burgeoning interest in Latin music (The Bossa Nova) as it's inspiration.
May 25, 1974- Bachman Turner Overdrive peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Let it Ride. By Randy's own admission at the time, the song was inspired by the Doobie Brothers Long Train Runnin', and was an attempt to catch the same kind of vibe as the California band's sound.
May 25, 1974- Wednesday peaked in the Canadian top 20 with Teen Angel. Their version of Last Kiss had done well so the band, or their management/label decided to try it again, and chose another of the best known songs about teenage death they could find. There was some momentum, as the top 20 placing shows, but as far as credibility, they were done.
May 25, 1996- Bryan Adams entered the US charts with The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me is You.
May 26, 1940- Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, was born.
May 26, 1945 - Garry Peterson of The Guess Who was born.
May 26, 1973 - Anne Murray entered the US charts with What About Me. The song is one of the few to become a hit from the pen of Scott MacKenzie. His own hit was written by John Phillips, and the former bandmate of Papa John from the Journeymen had never been able to repeat that success. Though this song was a hit on both sides of the border, Scott eventually wound up joining a later day version of the Mamas and the Papas in place of Denny Doherty.
May 26, 1979 - Anne Murray, entered the US charts with Shadows in the Moonlight. She was less than a year away from her first US #1 and, after being treated as a part timer by the US she was, suddenly, as hot as a pistol once again.
May 26, 1984 - The Pukka Orchestra peaked in the Canadian top 20 with their version of Peter Gabriel's Listen to the Radio. This band had amazing potential, most felt, but because of illness in their leader, they were never able to repeat this success.
May 27, 1945 - Bruce Cockburn was born. The funny thing about his career is that just about the time many Canadians tired of his stance as our national political conscience, the rest of the world caught on. Bruce is now, undoubtedly, in a position to spend most of his career outside this country, as far as live performances are concerned, but continues to be inescapably Canadian.
May 27, 1971 - The Bells were awarded gold for Stay Awhile. Perhaps little more than a very good Holiday Inn band, the group scored a number of hits at the beginning of the 70s, but this one became a monster on both sides of the border. Written by Ken Tobias, it was perfectly matched to the breathy vocal stylings of singers Cliff Edwards and Jackie Ralphs.
May 27, 1972 - Gordon Lightfoot entered the US charts with one of his strongest ballads, Beautiful. The godfather of Canadian folk just finished another of his annual runs at Massey Hall.
May 27, 1972 - Procol Harum entered the US charts with Conquistador that qualified as Cancon simply because it was recorded here. The British band recorded a concert in Edmonton, backed by the local Symphony Orchestra, and this track was plucked to be the single. It was their second biggest hit, internationally, after A Whiter Shade of Pale.
May 27, 1972 - Fludd peaked in the Canadian top 40 with Get Up Get Out and Move On. Prior to this they were better known as a polite pop group as far as radio was concerned because of the track Turned 21, but this showed a little more energy.
May 27, 1972 - Marty Butler peaked in the Canadian top 30 with We Gotta Make It Together. A very friendly guy with a knack for creating serviceable lightweight pop, he probably made more money writing jingles than hit records, but did have his own TV show for at least one summer. Marty died of Aids a few years ago.
May 27, 1996 - The Tragically Hip entered the Canadian charts with their Trouble at the Henhouse album, and continued their dominance of both the charts and the concert stage in Canada while continuing to struggle for acceptance elsewhere.
May 27, 1996 - Bryan Adams entered the Canadian charts with The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me is You, two days after entering the American charts.
May 28, 1977 - Heart entered the US charts with Barracuda. By this time, the band had moved to the United States, due to the fact that some of the members were American, and they were doing very well there. They had also switched labels but without checking to see that they still owed their Vancouver label one more. Having been written before their return home, this one still qualified as Cancon.
May 28, 1990 - Corey Hart peaked in the Canadian top ten with A Little Love. His stardom was seemingly assured at this stage of his career. After all, an artist who had teen girls wrapped around his finger and he wrote his own, very catchy hit records. Unfortunately, he was SO popular with the teenyboppers that he tended to follow advice that said "cater to them". His credibility was destroyed, because of it.
May 29, 1961 - Paul Anka entered the US charts with the song Dance On Little Girl. There was a tendency within the Brill Building, at the time, to use Cuban and other Latino rhythms and to call it rock and roll. It was, in fact, an attempt to get away from the rhythm and blues feeling that was rock and roll and to replace it with something else using stars already associated with rock and roll. This song was one of those.
May 29, 1971 - Anne Murray peaked in the Canadian top 30 with It Takes Time. The song was written by a 13-year old girl living in Oshawa by the name of Shirley Eikhard, who, soon enough, recorded her own fist album. Shirley never became a superstar, but she has remained one of our most talented writers.
May 29, 1971 - The 5 Man Electrical Band entered the US charts with what would prove to be their biggest hit and signature tune, Signs. This song is still a staple of oldies radio in the States, and was covered a few years ago by Tesla who took it to the top ten again. It has also showed up in commercials and movie soundtracks.
May 29, 1971 - Lighthouse score their first real hit when Hats Off to the Stranger peaks in the Canadian top ten. After three albums for RCA the band switched to GRT in Canada and Evolution in the US, and, in the process changed a couple of members, bringing in Bob McBride to replace Pinky Dauvin, and Louis Yachnin to replace Grant Fullerton. They also pared away the string section, opting, by and large, to use keyboards for those effects, and concentrated on the horns more than the strings on future recordings.
May 30, 1970 - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Woodstock. The band actually made their live debut as a quartet at Woodstock, and though Joni Mitchell wrote a song that seemed to capture the feeling of the event perfectly, she did so from New York City where she watched coverage of the festival on the news.
May 30, 1970 - The Original Caste peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Mr. Monday. This was a follow-up to their earlier, bigger hit One Tin Soldier. The Calgary quintet, fronted by Bruce and Dixie Innes, had a couple more singles and then faded from sight. Bruce moved to Victoria and ran Seacoast Sound studios there for some time and has relocated to the United States where he runs another recording studio.
May 30, 1970 - Edward Bear entered the US charts with You Me and Mexico. The song was their breakthrough both here and in the States, but its success would be eclipsed within a year by The Last Song.
May 30, 1981 - April Wine entered the US charts with their version of Lorence Hud's Sign of the Gypsy Queen. Hud had scored with it in the 70s, but the song languished until April Wine added it to their repertoire. The original version was wonderful, but Wine's multiple guitar attack on the song did, perhaps, due it justice.
May 30, 1983 - Doug and the Slugs peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Making It Work. The Vancouver band, led by advertising executive Doug Bennett, used ska music as the basis of their sound, and had a fairly good run over the rest of the decade.
May 30, 1986 - Papa Joe Brown, patriarch of the Family Brown, died following a performance. His group which included his son Barry as well as his two daughters, and son-in-law Randall Prescott, were one of the top attractions in country music for years. They had their own TV show, won Junos, and created a pretty good catalogue of classic Canadian country songs, many written by Barry Brown. Following the death of Joe, the band Lonesome Daddy was formed from the remaining members.
May 30, 1988 - BLVD (aka Boulevard) peaked in the Canadian top 30 with Never Give Up. The band was originally out of Calgary and featured some of the best players from many of the city's top bands of the time. They were signed to MCA and were tipped to be the next big thing but, for numerous reasons, never lived up to their original promise.
May 31, 1969 - Blood Sweat & Tears enter the US charts with Spinning Wheel. This was the second single of three that came from the same album and all three peaked at #2 on the charts. This one was written by new addition David Clayton-Thomas from Toronto, while the others were the Motown standard You've Made Me So Very Happy and Laura Nyro's And When I Die.
May 31, 1974 - Gordon Lightfoot was awarded gold for his Sundown LP. This was Lightfoot's commercial nadir in the USA, and though many more hits would come, he was most heralded as a superstar at this point in time.
May 31, 1975 - Charity Brown peaked in the Canadian top 5 with Take Me In Your Arms. Produced by Harry Hinde, who had a knack for hooking artists up with Motown songs, the tune was later covered by the Doobie Brothers who scored a big hit with it in the States.
May 31, 1975 - Fludd peaked in the Canadian top 20 with What an Animal.
May 31, 1980 - Red Rider peaked in the Canadian top 20 with White Hot from their debut album. The band had been playing country rock before they hooked up with Tom Cochrane, who had one solo album to his credit. The fact that Tom is still, arguably, a viable recording artist 21 years later shows that Capitol/EMI's long standing faith in him was well served.