Jackie and Coralie Allan were born in Edmonton and started singing from a young age - they moved to Toronto as a duo country act and ended up as regulars on the Tommy Hunter show from 1966 through 1977; during this time put out a number of singles and 3 albums and almost all of it sounds exactly like you’d expect from Country Hoedown artists.
However, the Allan Sisters released a couple of singles penned by songwriter Al Rain which are standouts - here is “I’m In With The Downtown Crowd” which got picked up by the Northern Soul scene:
The flipside is “Give It Up Girl”:
The Eighth Day was formed when Ron Grant and Dave Jensen moved from Victoria BC to Toronto and joined with Roger Collier and Terry Danyleyko - they signed with GRT Records Canada and their debut single was also the first single released by the label (GRT 901) in 1969. As is sometimes the case, the b-side of the single is more fun, so first up here is “Bring Your Love Back”:
Followed by the flip side: '“Hear The Grass Grow”:
Ron Grant (lead guitar)
Dave Jensen (vocals)
Roger Collier (drums)
Terry Danyleyko (bass)
They disbanded when Jensen left to go solo in early 1970 - he put out one single (Quality 1957X) which is unobtainable.
The Dirty Shames were a Toronto pop/folk band active from 1964 to 1967. They moved to New York and became regulars at Andy Warhol’s The Dom club, and opened for the Velvet Underground. The lineup included singer Carol Robinson and guitarist Amos Garrett who would go on to play with Ian and Sylvia, Maria Muldaur (that’s his guitar solo on “Midnight At The Oasis”) and a host of other bands.
The band put out two singles on Philips records, neither of which were released in Canada. The first single contained a cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Coconut Grove” paired with their self-penned “Walk Away”. From their second single here is “Blown Your Mind” which is the standout track:
Carol Robinson, Amos Garrett, Chick Roberts and Jim McCarthy.
Pictures courtesy of Toronto Public Library.
Shirley Matthews and the Big Town Girls had a huge hit with the song “Big Town Boy” in 1963. The backing band was a group of Canadians led by singer Tommy Graham - based on the success of the single, they named themselves The Big Town Boys and started putting out a number of singles and one LP (in 1966, the eponymous Big Town Boys, Capitol KAO 6168). From that LP here’s is “Put You Down” :
And here is “August 32nd” which is the b-side of a single they put out in 1966 (Bell records 653):
They toured across Canada several times, and for over a year they were the host band for CTV’s After Four television show. They moved to Toronto in 1967 and recorded a couple singles for Yorkville records under the name BTB-4, including “Tell Me” (the flip side of which is on a compilation album called “Yorkville Evolution“ YVM33001).
In 1968 the Big Town Boys split up and lead singer Tommy Graham travelled the world for a couple of years before landing back in Toronto in 1970 to pick up on his solo career. The lineup of the Big Town Boys was:
Josh Collins (percussion, vocals)
James Ardnt (tenor sax, vocals)
Tommy Graham (guitar & vocals)
Brian Massey (bass, harmonica, vocals)
John Henderson (guitar, Hammond organ, vocals)
Michael Lewis (brass, keyboards; left in 1964 on scholarship to Germany)
Shirley Matthews was born in Harrow Ontario - she sang in a church choir and at high school dances prior to embarking on a career in music. She moved to Toronto and worked in a Bell Telephone office while singing nights at the age of 19 at the Club Bluenote, and was discovered by an associate of Bob Crewe (who managed the Four Seasons) and so she went to New York to sign a record deal - the resulting debut single "Big Town Boy" by “Shirley Matthews and the Big Town Girls“ was a major hit in Canada - it debuted on the 1050 CHUM chart on December 2 1963 - the same day as "She Loves You" by the Beatles. Here is “Big Town Boy”:
And the flip side “You Can Count On That”:
Her next single (“Private Property” / “Wise Guys“) was not nearly as successful as her first. Her third single consisted of two tracks by producer Bob Crewe: “He Makes Me Feel So Pretty” b/w “Is He Really Mine” - here is that b-side first:
And here is the a-side “He Makes Me Feel So Pretty”:
The following is clip is from CBC-TV's 'Music Hop' in 1965 with “Big Town Boy”. The backing trio are Stephanie Taylor, Diane Miller and Rhonda Silver.
She had one final single (“Stop the Clock'“ / “If Had to Do It All Over Again'“) which tanked and she subsequently quit the music business; she eventually ran a chain of successful racquetball and fitness clubs near Toronto.
Shirley Matthews: 1942 to 2013-01-08
Bessie Grace Gupton was born in Alabama and grew up in Detroit singing gospel music with the Emma Washington Gospel Singers starting at age nine. Her first recording was “Deed I Do” in 1963 as Bessie Watson, backed by the Cannonball Adderly Quintet. She also recorded a number of singles under the name Tobi Lark.
In the mid-60s she moved to Montreal Canada and played at Expo ‘67, then moved to Toronto and worked with Ronnie Hawkins. In 1970, she recorded “We’re All In This Together“ live at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church with a gospel choir of about 80 singers and local musicians (including lead guitar by Kim Mitchell). The song made it to 38 on the RPM charts in 1970 - it’s a stunning performance:
In 1968 she recorded ‘Time Will Pass You By‘ in Detroit which was released under the name Tobi Legend - it didn’t do much until it got picked up by the Northern Soul scene in the UK (in particular as one of the “3 Before 8” closing songs after all-nighters at the Wigan Casino club). As a result, it features on a number of Northern Soul compilations - here is the great Time Will Pass You By:
Images courtesy of Toronto Public Library - you should go!
RIP to the great, underappreciated Jackie Shane.
May 15, 1940 to February 22, 2019.
Doug Riley (also known as Dr. Music) was an influential composer, arranger and musician - he was the musical director of Toronto’s Famous People Players for two decades and over the course of his career he contributed to over 300 albums.
His band (Dr. Music) was put together as the studio band on CTV’s Ray Stevens show; when it was cancelled the band stayed together and put out their first single on RCA records - a split single with the Laurie Bower Singers so two versions of I’d Like to Teach The World To Sing - the Coke-Cola jingle. They subsequently put out 3 albums from 1972 to 1974 - the first album (Dr. Music) had contributions from Terry Black and Laurel Ward. From that album here is Sun Goes By:
These pictures of Doug Riley were taken by Boris Spremo in 1969:
He won a Juno in 1981 for best jazz album (Tommy Ambrose at Last with the Doug Riley Band) and in 2003 became a member of the Order of Canada.
Doug Riley: April 24, 1945 to August 28, 2007
Images courtesy Toronto Public Library.
Vancouver’s teen idol - introducing Terry Black!
Terry Black's debut U.S. single Unless You Care was released in 1964 when he was only 15 - a big hit in western Canada and it cracked the top ten in the US. Here is some youtube footage from American Bandstand in November of that year:
Terry’s first album (The Black Plague) was released on Arc records (ACM-5001) in 1964 and contains contributions from Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and Leon Russell. He was voted top male vocalist of the year by the RPM awards (the precursor to the Junos). From that LP here is Pool Little Fool:
More successful singles followed in 1965 and by that point he was a bona fide teen idol. His father got a job in Hollywood so the family moved in January 1966 and while there Terry almost made a movie cast as Elvis Presley’s brother. The movie fell through and the family was disillusioned with Hollywood so they moved back to Toronto. In 1969 Terry put out the album An Eye For an Ear under the name Terence, and also in that year joined the cast Toronto of Hair where he met Laurel Ward - the two were married in 1970 and recorded together through the 70s and 80s.
Terry Black: February 3, 1949 to June 28, 2009
It’s All Meat was a Toronto band whose name was inspired by a dog food commercial boasting “100% meat – no filler“. They put out one album in 1970 on Columbia records (ELS-374) and it currently sells for around $800.00 if you can find an original pressing. The album is a cracker.
The band’s home base where they practiced and played live was a place called the Cosmic Home on Yonge street between Eglinton and Lawrence (2717 Yonge). It was run by Jerry Rygiel (left) and Dave Defries (right):
It’s All Meat’s eponymous album has been re-pressed on various labels and there is also a CD available with extra tracks on it:
The track below is called (I Need Some Kind Of) Definite Committment (Baby) which was released on the b-side of a now unobtainable single (Columbia C4-2910).
And here’s 9 minutes of Sunday Love because you deserve it.
Rick Aston (bass)
Jed MacKay (organ, piano)
Rick McKim (drums)
Wayne Rowerth (guitar)
Norm White (guitar)
The second Paupers album (Ellis Island) was released July 1st, 1968 on the Verve Forecast label (FTS3051). The album contains a fairly wide range of psychedelic rock songs with a very different feel than their more pop oriented first LP (Magic People). The LP included an insert with 16 photos of the band you could cut out and assemble into a Flick Book. The 2019 equivalent is to can scan and make an animated gif - we do this work so you don’t have to.
The other side of the insert (which would get wrecked if you made the Flick Book) is a choice shot of the band. Note the three drum setups - seeing some live footage of these guys at their peak would be a treat.
On May 3rd 1969, Jimi Hendrix was arrested at Toronto International Airport as he arrived from New York after police seized 3 capsules of heroin (and an aluminum tube containing traces of hashish). He had to visit Toronto’s Old City Hall where he was released on $10,000 bail, in time to play with the Experience at Maple Leaf Gardens that night.
In December of that year, Hendrix returned for the court case - the jury deliberated for 8 1/2 hours before he was acquitted on December 10, 1969 - he was facing up to 7 years in prison. Hendrix testified that he often received presents from fans, including drugs like hashish and LSD - a reporter (Sharon Lawrence) corroborated the story that a fan had handed Hendrix the packets saying “Here, this will make you feel better”.
During the trial, Hendrix stated that he had “sniffed cocaine twice, used LSD five times and smoked hashish and marijuana, but has never used heroin“. He said he had outgrown the use of narcotics. "To each his own" he said. "But just don't blow it. Don't blow it."
After being acquitted, he was quoted as saying “Canada has given me the best Christmas present I ever had“.
The following pictures were taken from a photo shoot in Toronto, 1969.
Pictures courtesy of Toronto Public Library.
July 24, 1928 to January 19, 2019.
There are no words at present, just a picture of our beloved dad.
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)
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.
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 Syren, December Angel, Ibisitx, 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.
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.
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.