Stampeders

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Stampeders

Stampeders

 

In the early 60's, the Calgary music scene was full of youth, vigor and a wide array of sounds ranging from distinct country flavourings to what would now be termed progressive rock. This potent mix, and all the ingredients which make it up were the core behind The Stampeders. Initially called The Rebounds, they were noticed by Mel Shaw, a variety show producer for a Calgary TV station. The original group comprised of Rich Dodson and Brendan Lyttle on guitars, Kim Berly on drums and bassist Len Roemer, Shaw suggested a name change to reflect their roots after becoming their manager in 1964.

By the spring of '65 two members had been added, Van King because of his showmanship and flambuoyancy and Kim's brother Race. By the time Van's brother Ronnie left The Paint Brushes to replace Roemer later that year, the group was already firmly entrenched in the tough grind of road life in the prairies.

Unable to land the group a recording deal, Shaw ended up releasing their material on his own label, World Music Creations. Five singles were released before their first national hit, "Carry Me". The success of the single sparked their first national tour. Rigors of the road quickly took their toll and The Stampeders were reduced to Dodson, Kim Berly and Ronnie King by the release of their first lp, AGAINST THE GRAIN in '71. From the same record came "Sweet City Woman", which broke the top 10 on Billboard and was number one in Canada for an entire month.

CARRYIN' ON hit the shelves a year later and had the progressive "Devil You". Inside a year and a half The Stampeders had three hit singles and had gone from local virtual unknowns to one of Canada's hottest rising stars, truly a feat considering the lack of support Canadian radio gave homegrown artists before the implementation of Canadian content regulations.

RUBES DUDES AND ROWDIES was next up and out of the gates in '73. Upon the urges of Bell Records, the group's American distributor, the band fell back on the original cross-over country sound, as opposed to Dodson's "more rockier" approach. Though the Americans thought "Monday Morning Choo Choo" was cute, fans in the US never did really catch on to The Stampeders' country-hybrid sound.

FROM THE FIRE was released in the summer of '73 and despite management's wishes, contained some of the group's heaviest, most progressive songs yet. The reaction to "Then Came The White Man" , "Julia Get Up", "Johnny Lightning" and "Wild Eyes" sparked more touring across North America.

NEW DAY was cut in '74 but was anything but new. Straying back to hte countryish side of the fence, it was supported by two of Berly's ballads, "Oh My Lady" and "Minstrel Gypsy", as well as the haunting "Me and My Stone". STEAMIN' was released a year later and marked more than any other before it King's progressive influence on the direction the group was headed. "Ramona" and covers of "Hit The Road Jack" and "New Orleans" all showcased the group's uncredited but undeniable mark on Canadian music for decades to come. The subsequent tour resulted in their live album, BACKSTAGE PASS.

HIT THE ROAD hit the stores the following year and was tagged with King's innovative, eclectic touch. A funkier, jazzier sound was emerging, the experiment resulted in the singles "San Diego", complete with guitar phasers before their time and flutes and "Sweet Love Bandit" in all its horn splendor. The new sounds meant a swelled personnel and by the release of PLATINUM in '77 the band had grown to eight members. Dodson seemed to not grow with the band, finding his material rejected more often over the last couple of records, and he left in the middle of the recording.

BALLSY came out in '79 and now featured King as the undeniable leader of the band, following Berly's leaving the year before. Ironically, now that it was basically his band, King found the radio audiences were having a tough time keeping up with the group's ever-changing sound. Problems with management with the group's direction caused King to disband The Stampeders in 1980.

Capitol released a compilation in their OVER SIXTY MINUTES series in '83. Mixed in with a collection of tracks spanning their career were three previously unreleased tracks. The ultimate in cheesy marketing ploys however was attempted in 1994 when Capitol again released a greatest hits package ... this time GREATEST HITS VOLUME 1 ... basically the same as its' predecessor. Then the following year OVER SEVENTY MINUTES WITH THE STAMPEDERS hit the shelves.

The group got back together off and on in the early '90's and saw the release of their first three records on Dodson's Marigold Records in '96. The following year saw the first new Stampeders record in nearly 20 years. Reminiscent of their country hybrid roots, the record featured Berly, Dodson and King and contained the regional hit "Hometown Boy", as well as updated versions of "Sweet City Woman" and "Oh My Lady". An unfortunate lack of interest couldn't support a full-fledged reunion though and the group eventually slipped back into the background.

In a time when Canadian radio failed to properly support its own, The Stampeders showed not only their genuine talent in the form of gold records, but their undeniable influence on today's homegrown artists. It's interesting to think about what jwould have happened had the group chose either a cross-over country sound or if they'd stuck to their rock roots throughout their first nine records. Crossing borders no one else dared cross and experimenting with sounds too complex for other group's to comprehend, The Stampeders were truly a Canadian original.

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox


Discography

Against The Grain
Against The Grain (1971)

Carry Me
Train to Nowhere
Gator Road
Only a Friend
Oklahoma Country
You Got To Go
Sweet City Woman
Sunday Prayin
Tuscaloosa Women
With you I got Wheels
I Didn't Love You Anyhow
Man from P.E.I.

Carryin' On
Carryin' On (1971)

Stick By You
Dead Man's Hand
Giant in the Street
Then Came The White Man
Wild Eyes
Devil You
The Difference it Makes
Stone Blind
Monday Morning Choo Choo
Carryin' On

Rubes Dudes And Rowdies
Rubes Dudes And Rowdies (1973)

Minstrel Gypsy
No Destination
Mumbo Jumbo
Got To Get Me Back Home
I Don't Know (What To Call It)
Oh My Lady
My Caroline
Julia Get Up
Thunderclaps and Lightning
Johnny Lightning
Today is the Beginning
Almost Home

From The Fire
From The Fire (1973)

Manitou
Wild Fire
Me and My Stone
Good Bye Good Bye
Chariots of the Gods
Rocky Mountain Home
Child of the Midnight Sun
Ride in the Wind
Running Wild

New Day
New Day (1974)

Ramona
Marigold
Running Out of Time
It's Your Move
Wild Eyes
In The Shadows
Words
Do It Again
Somebody Help Me
Brothers of the Universe

Backstage Pass
Backstage Pass (1974)

Devil You
Marigold
Goodbye, Goodbye
Intro
Blue Suede Shoes
In The Shadows
Somebody Help me
In The Shadows (reprise)
Rocky Mountain Home
Wild Eyes
Johnny Lightning

Steamin'
Steamin' (1975)

Stand Up
New Orleans
Lovin' The Night Away
Broken heart Surgery
Rock Of Gibraltar
Summer In The City
Hit The Road Jack
Wonder Woman
Hard Lovin' Woman
She Threw Me Away
Night Walker
We're Here To Rock and Roll

Hit The Road
Hit The Road (1976)

Playin' In The Band
Sweet Love Bandit
Things Are Getting Better
Let It Begin
Sally Ann
San Diego
C'est La Vie
All Night
Rock and Roll Line
How Does She Do It?

Platinum
Platinum (1978)

Bring The House Down
Move On Up
Night And The City
Sassy Dance
Don't You
Believe It
Everybody
Picture Of Love
Fools Lament

Ballsy
Ballsy (1980)

Over 60 Minutes with...
Over 60 Minutes with... (1983)

Carry Me
Sweet City Woman
Devil You
Oh My Lady
Minstrel Gypsy
Wild Eyes
Then Came The White Man
Hit The Road Jack
Baby With You
Monday Morning Choo Choo
New Orleans
Ramona
Keep Me Running Wild
Sweet Love Bandit
Me and My Stone
Blue-Eyed Woman
Rocky Mountain Home
Playin' In The Band
San Diego
Za Ba Dee

Greatest Hits Volume 1
Greatest Hits Volume 1 (1994)

Carry Me
Sweet City Woman
Devil You
Oh My Lady
Minstrel Gypsy
Wild Eyes
Then Came The White Man
Hit The Road Jack
Baby With You
Monday Morning Choo Choo
New Orleans
Ramona
Keep Me Running Wild
Sweet Love Bandit
Me and My Stone
Blue-Eyed Woman
Rocky Mountain Home
Playin' In The Band
San Diego
Za Ba Dee
Natalie
Lookin' Back
Gator Road

Over 70 Minutes with...
Over 70 Minutes with... (1995)

Wild Eyes
In The Shadows
Running Wild (extended)
Hard Lovin' Woman
Lovin' The Night Away
Stand Up
Manitou
Summer In The City
Goodbye, Goodbye
Wild Fire
Johnny Lightning
Me And My Stone (extended)
Ride In The Wind
Broken Heart Surgery
Here To Rock And Roll
Little Miss America
Bring The House Down
Night In The City

Sure Beats Working
Sure Beats Working (1998)

Hometown Boy
Sure Beats Working
It's All Over Now
Something's Glowin'
Lies
Blue Angel
B'in Down That Road
Possession
Feel Good Again
Carry Me
Stuck In The Party
Oh My Lady
Oh Belinda
Closed Monday


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