Zon

The prog rock band Zon was formed in Toronto 1977. Their first album (Astral Projector) was released in 1978 and it won a Juno for breakthrough artist of the year. In 1979 they played the Ontario Place forum and on June 20 the Globe and Mail ran the following review on the lead page of the Entertainment section - it’s a beaut:

Unfortunately, Mr. McGrath had left before Zon went on - he reviewed the opening band (Lips).

Their label (CBS) demanded compensation to no avail. There was a shake up at the label and Zon was dropped even though they had a 3 LP contract. Their third album was produced on Falcon records, and they finally broke up in 1981.

Denton Young (vocals)
Brian Miller (guitar)
Jim Samson (bass)
Kim Hunt (drums)
Howard Helm (keyboards)

1978: Astral Projector (CBS)
1979: Back Down To Earth (CBS)
1980: I’m Worried About The Boys (Falcon)

Cambridge Analytica

In the highly secure Cambridge Analytica data center, CTO Nathanial Fatale shows an ASCII printout of the facebook social graph to potential investor Boris Badenov.

Syrinx

John Mills-Cockell studied music at the University of Toronto - he was a pioneer of the Moog synthesizer who in 1967 formed Intersystems with light sculptor Michael Hayden and poet Blake Parker. They released three LP recordings: Number One (1967), Peachy (1968) and the brilliantly named Free Psychedelic Poster Inside (1968). All 3 were remastered in 2015 as a lovingly produced CD box-set.

In 1970 Syrinx was formed with John Mills-Cockell (keyboards), Alan Wells (percussion) and Doug Pringle (saxophone). They put out their first album (Syrinx) in 1970, and were commission by CTV to write and perform the theme music for the tv show Here Come's The Seventies - they got a hit with Tillicum and the single was later included on their second album.

Syrinx returned to the studio in late 1970 to record a second album but a fire in the studio destroyed the group’s instruments including Mills-Cockell’s Moog Mark II as well as the master tapes of the recordings containing weeks of work. A Benefit Concert was held in St. Lawrence Market on April 14, 1971:

Syrinx released Long Lost Relatives in 1971. Here's footage of Syrinx with the Toronto Repertory Orchestra playing Ibistix - one of the four movements of the 26 minute Stringspace. a composition including SyrenDecember AngelIbisitx, and Field Hymn (Conclusion).

In 2016 a 2-CD box set (Tumblers From The Vault) was released and it includes all the studio material, plus the CBC recording of StringSpace live with orchestra.

Here is December Angel from Long Lost Relatives:

After Syrinx disbanded, John Mills-Cockell put out the albums Heartbeat and A Third Testament on True North records; there is a remastered set coming. Soon. Hopefully.

The pictures are from 1972 - British musician Malcolm Tomlinson joined the band making it a 4 piece.

Harmonium

Serge Fiori (lead guitar, vocals) met Michel Normandeau (guitar, vocals) in November 1972 and Harmonium was formed when they added Louis Valois on bass in 1973.

The band put out 3 studio albums from 1974 through 1976: Harmonium, Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquième Saison and L’Eptade as well as a live album (En Tournee in 1980).

Below is Pour Un Instant - a short sweet track which was a hit from their first album:

This is paired with a long one - the 17 minute Histoires Sans Paroles which is just so goddamn beautiful:

Fwiw, all 3 of their studio albums made it onto wikipedia’s list of top 100 Canadian albums - they were huge in Quebec and for good reason.

In 2016 a great 2-LP re-issue of their last album (L’Eptade XL) was made available and there are re-issues of everything on CD.

Here is the venerable Peter Gzoski introducing Harmonium on CBC’s 90 Minutes Live.

Bus Bunnies

On February 3 1969, page 25 of the Toronto Star ran an article entitled “Bus ‘bunny’ made man miss his stop”.

Apparently a suggestion was made at the Canadian Urban Transportation Conference that “bus bunnies” should be used to make transportation “more attractive”. According to the article (see below), the idea was “slightly less popular” with women patrons.

Merry XMas

Ian and Sylvia

Sylvia Fricker married Ian Tyson in June, 1964.
From 1962 to 1967 Ian & Sylvia put out a string of folk albums with hits like Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon.
In 1967 they went country rock, releasing Nashville and Full Circle with session players from Tennesee - a month before they Byrds recorded Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
They formed Great Speckled Bird in 1969 and toured across Canada on the Festival Express. The band put out one album (produced by Todd Rungren) which suffered from poor distribution.
By 1975, Ian & Sylvia had stopped performing and were divorced soon after.
In 1995 they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Here is the track Someday Soon:

Photo courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

The Plaza

Some pictures of suburbia.

Rush

Because a bunch of pictures of Alex & Geddy over the years is a good thing.

Images courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

Prisms

Gordon Lowe and Laurel Ward put out Prisms in 1969 (Yorkville records YVS 33004).

“The way to enjoy ‘Prisms’ is to turn it on, put out the lights, lie down on the couch and allow your mind to become involved with the soulful sounds of Gordon Lowe”.

Laurel Ward went on to sing background vocals for Anne Murray, Bob Seger and Alice Cooper. Below is the cast of Hair from 1970 - that’s Laurel Ward on the left (with Rachel Jacobson, Pam and Dick Stein and Joe Clark).

In 1970 Gordon Lowe put out Follow the Sound (again with Laurel Ward on vocals).

Both albums have become classics in Japan & Korea and have had limited edition CD reissues.

Sam The Record Man

A few photos of the venerable Sam the Record Man.

Picures courtesy of Toronto Public Library,

Folklords

The Folklords formed in 1968 when the Chimes of Britain changed from a Mod cover band to playing dreamy sunshine psychedelic pop. They were signed to Jack Boswell’s Allied record label (which also carried Reign Ghost and the Plastic Cloud) and they put out one album (Release The Sunshine) which featured a trippy album cover and songs which “dealt with alternative lifestyles and complexities of a changing world”. The track below is the opener on side 2; Parson Me Judas - enjoy.

Tom Waschkowski (guitar)
Paul Seip (bass)
Martha Johnson (auto-harp)

Max Webster

Max Webster was formed in 1972 (Mile Tilka, Kim Mitchell and Phil Trudell) from the ashes of a band called Family At Mac’s who played a tune called Song for Webster (the song, incidentally, was written by Daryl Steurmer who would later tour with Genesis). Max Webster put out a string of great albums from 1976 (Max Webster) to 1981 (Diamonds Diamonds) until Kim MItchell folded the band one night after playing a gig supporting Rush in Memphis Tennessee in April 1981.

From their first album, here is Toronto Tontos:

This is Pye Dubois (lyricist) and Kim Mitchell (guitar/vocals) in 1979:

Mike Tilka (bass):

Kim Mitchell and the Rankin sisters:

Click here for the Max Wesster live archive.

Images courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

3's A Crowd

3’s A Crowd were spotted by Mama Cass at the Ontario Pavillion for Expo ‘67 and she co-produced their first (and only) album called Christopher’s Movie Matinee in 1968. Originally a threesome from Vancouver, they moved to Toronto, played in clubs around town and released a couple of singles. They were seen performing at the Riverboat Tavern in 1965 which secured them the spot at Expo (here is some footage of them from Expo 67).

Bruce Cockburn wrote 3 songs on the album (he doesn’t play on the LP, but was a member of the band in 1969) and there is a track from Murray McLaughlin as well. From the album, here is Bird Without Wings, written by Bruce Cockburn:

In 1968, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produced a film called Christopher’s Movie Matinee (it is online here) which was a movie shot by kids and was focused on the 60’s counterculture, Vietnam, the Yorkville scene, and growing up in the modern world. Some tracks from the album were used in the film - it’s a very cool view of Toronto from that time.

Here is 3’s A Crowd at the Riverboat in 1965 - the line up was Brent Titcomb, Donna Weaver and Trevor Veitch.

And in 1966, cavorting around Toronto:

In 1967, with the addition of Ken Koblun and a more psychedelic look.

3’s A Crowd toured in 1969 with the line up of Bruce Cockburn, Richard Patterson, David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson, Sandy Crawley and Dennis Pendrith but it was short lived and the band broke up before the year was out.

The Plastic Cloud

The Plastic Cloud was a band from Bay Ridge Ontario who they put out one album in 1968 which consisted of mainly pop/rock tracks on side A and more psychedelic/experimental tracks on side B. The album wasn’t promoted well and ddn’t sell very many copies (original pressings on the Allied label are a rarity and sell for big bucks). The album has since been re-released on LP and CD. Here is Epistle to Paradise which is the opening track on side A:

Brian Madill (bass)
Don Brewer (lead vocals, 12-string guitar)
Mike Cadieux (guitar)
Randy Umphrey (drums)

A Wild Pair

A Wild Pair was a 1968 promotional LP with songs by The Staccatos on one side and The Guess Who on the flip. The album was comissioned by Coca Cola, and instead of compiling up a bunch of inexpensive singles, they commissioned new songs from the bands, paid for studio time and session musicians, and brought in Phil Ramone (the R in A&R records) as producer.

The album cost $1.00 + 10 coke bottle caps by mailorder and they sold 85,000 copies at a time a gold record was 50,000. It is the first release on Nimbus 9 records (NNE-100) and it is superb - somebody should re-issue this thing.

Side 1 is by The Staccatos who were out of Ottawa - they became the Five Man Electrical Band in 1969 - here’s Running Back To You Everytime:

Side 2 is by The Guess Who - below is the track Heygoode Hardy:

And here is Heygoode Hardy from Show Of The Week in 1968.

Freakout at the Pop Festival

In 1969, the Freak Out pop festival was held at Rock Hill park (just east of Shelburne near highways 89 and 10) with a line up including The Guess Who, Lighthouse, Five Man Electrical Band, Major Hoople’s Boarding House, Buckstone Hardware, Motherlode and others.

The 3 day camping festival was held from Friday August 28 to Monday September 1 and was attended by about 6000 people, 1/2 of which were camping on Elwood Hill’s 300 acre campground. He had invested $50,000 to put in stage facilities, sound equipment, and promotion.

The September 1 issue of the Globe and Mail contained an article by Melinda McCracken (“The fan's’ watery applause soaks pop musicians“) which described a laid back scene at the festival with people “happy to be out in the country and away from the strictures of city life and home“. As for the police: “… the 65 police on duty, recruited from nearby small torns, seemed to overlook practically everything and reported no problems“.

In the same issue, Michael Valpy’s article “Freakout at the pop festival: LSD with speed, LSD with strychnine, LSD with Everything“ starts out ominously: “Through the sound and the darkness, the drug casualties came up the dirt road Saturday night..”. The article describes the work done by the volunteer psychologists and doctors at the Yorkville Trailer which helped the 30 or so kids that were “the victims of LSD, speed, opium, heroin, hashish, LSD mixed with strychnine, LSD mixed with speed and beer, LSD mixed with God-knows-what.“ After tales of “weeping, terrified girls, boys who were dazed and mumbling“, there is a positive note - one girl coming out of a bad trip was quoted saying “I’m going straight. I’m going to take that church job.”

A September 4 letter to the editor calls out Valpy’s article for embellishing and exaggerating: “Facts alone make for boring reading. Subjective impressions stemming from stream of consciousness are just as meaningless and, therefore, just as boring”.

In 1970, the festival was planned for the weekend of September 5/6. On August 27th, a seldom used section of the Police Act was invoked to attempt to force Mr. Hill to pay for policing the concert (a total of $109,865.70). On September 2nd, the Globe and Mail reported that a Dufferin country judge issued an ex-parte injunction against the festival, and the case went to the Supreme Court - the end result was that the Ontario Government allowed the festival to go ahead, as Mr. Justice Stewart said “I’m being asked to restrain something and I don’t know what it is.” Mr. Hill refused to pay the policing costs and the concert went ahead.

As a result of all this, the Ontario Provincial Police (assisted by RCMP narcotics offiers) set up roadblocks at the entrances to Rock Hill and stopped all vehicles going to the concert to search for drugs:

According to Mr. Hill, “uniformed OPP … stirred up the anger of festival-goers by conducting a pre-dawn tent search for drugs, dumping food and personal belongings on the ground.“ After commenting that the previous year’s festival had been without incident, OPP Inspector Fred Blucher said “The only trouble here is that the kids don’t want to be policed, and we have to enforce the law“. In a letter to the editor (Globe and Mail, September 14th), Neil S. Paddle writes: “Searches were made of cars, luggage, purses and pockets. This is to say the least an unpleasant way to start the weekend“.

In 1971, the Rock Hill festival was held on July 2, 3, 4 - the line up included Edward Bear, Chilliwack, Syrinx, Crowbar, Mainline, Keth McKie, Cloud (soon to be Heat Exchange), and others.

In the August 20 Globe and Mail article “Immorality at Festival is Stressed”, J. P. Hilton from the Ontario Attorney-General’s Department said the festival was “so disturbing and destructive to the residents of Mulmur township that the Supreme Court of Ontario should prevent it happening again“. There were “nudes in an oatfield, motorcycles in grainfields, and a cloud of dust so bad that cows refused to eat the grass until it had been washed by rain“.

The Freak Out Festival at Rock Hill was not held in 1972.

Tom Northcott

Tom Northcott was a regular on the CBC Vancouver TV program Let’s Go from 1964 to 66, and was nominated for a Juno in 1971 for best male vocalist (losing to Gordon Lightfoot). He was vocalist for The Playboys in 1965, and then formed the Tom Northcott Trio in 1966 (with Rick Enns on bass who would go on to join the United Empire Loyalists). Northcott then formed a band with Howie Vickers and Susan Pesklevits which lasted briefly - Susan then formed the Poppy Family with Terry Jacks (they married in 1967) and Vickers formed the Collectors which later became Chilliwack. Northcott recorded a number of solo singles for Warner records with top session players (Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel). In the early 1970s he gave up his recording career to become a commercial fisherman, went to law school and is now a maritime lawyer.

The track below is Girl of the North Country from 1968 - from the Warner compilation Sunny Goodge Street:

Here’s Lulu introducing Tom Northcott on the tv show Where It’s At playing both Sunny Goodge Street and Girl From The North Country.

Heat Exchange

Heat Exchange started out as a high school blues band called Cloud - originally four members which expanded to a six piece band influenced by British progressive bands such as Jethro Tull and ELP. Their big break came after being booked at the 3-day Rock Hill festival (held near Shelburne ON) - they picked up a manager and recording contract with local ARC/Yorkville records, turning down a potential offer from RCA. They immediately stopped touring to go into the studio where they were given free reign to compose and record their first album. They also changed their name to Heat Exchange due to an existing band named Clouds.

At the time the CRTC was promoting Canadian content by picking a single each week to be played across the country and one week Heat Exchange’s first single (Can You Tell Me / Inferno) was selected for guaranteed airplay. According to flute/sax player Craig Carmody, “…programmers resented being told they had to play this (or any other) song and so deliberately buried it in the dark of night“.

A decidedly FM band was now being asked to create AM pop singles (their contract was revised at the time to focus on hit singles as opposed to an album) - they put 2 more singles (Scorpio Lady / Reminiscence and She Made Me All Alone / Philosophy) neither of which received any attention - the record company lost interest and the band faded away into obscurity. Neil Chapman later turned up as the guitarist for Pukka Orchestra in the 80s.

Recently, the singles and remaining tracks from what would have been their first album were compiled into an excellent set called Reminiscence - it’s a shame the LP wasn’t released at the time, as it’s really something. Below is the track ‘Scat’ which is a superb slab of psychedelic jazz.

Mike Langford: vocals
Neil Chapman: guitars
Marty Morin: drums, vocals
Gord McKinnon: keyboards, harmonica
Ralph Smith: bass
Craig Carmody: saxaphones, flute

Blythwood

Here are my class photos from Blythwood School for the years 1969 through 1974.