Mary Saxton

Mary Saxton’s first two singles are from 1966 on Pace records out of Edmonton AB - recorded when she was 16 years old (she was born Mary Podmoroff in High River Alberta). The singles were produced by Gary Paxton, who had already produced two #1 hit singles (“Alley-Oop” in 1960 and “The Monster Mash” in 1962). From her second single here is the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned “Ask Any Girl”, previously recorded by the Supremes in 1964:

Her first album is called “Sad Eyes” and was released in 1969 on Birchmount records - it contains more great tracks such as “Take My Heart”:

Here’s “A Tear” which is one of four tracks on the album written by Gary Paxton:

Okay one more - the final track on Sad Eyes is “Lonely World” written by Mavis McCaullay:

And finally, here is Susan Jacks and band with Mary Saxton on background vocals and a sweet rendition of “Which Way You Goin’ Billy”:

Susan Jacks live at Blue Frog Studios in September 2012 with:

David Sinclair - Guitars
Bill Sample - Keyboards
Brian Newcombe - Bass
Shawn Soucy - Drums
Mary Saxton - Vocals
Zak Sinclair - Acoustic Guitar

Hey compilation folks - a retrospective is in order here.

The Checkerlads

The Checkerlads were a band from Regina, Saskatchewan, formed in 1963 by Arnie Sanns, Bob Stevens, Larry Reich, Harvey Frasz, and Bob Edwards. They put out 3 singles in 1966 on Gaiety Records - a label started by Don Grashey and Lloyd Palmer in Winnipeg, Manitoba which released a whole bunch of Canadian bands during the years from 1961 through 1969.

Here is “So Much In Love With You” a Jagger/Richards composition which was never recorded by the Rolling Stones:

And this is “Shake Yourself Down” which crops up on a bunch of garage band compilations (often credited to the Checker Lads):

The Checkerlads were:

Arnie Anns (bass, vocals)
Bob Stevens (guitar)
Larry Reitch (guitar, vocals)
Harvey Frasz (dums)
Bob Edwards (organ)

The Afterthought

Here’s a couple of posters for happenings at the Afterthought club in Kitsilano, Vancouver in 1966. The Afterthought was owned by promoter Jerry Cruz who started booking bands in 1965 (when he was 17). He booked major San Francisco bands to play the Afterthought and as well as a who’s-who of local Vancouver bands.

The posters are part of the Suddon Collection at the Yonge/Bloor branch of the Toronto Public Library. Highly recommended to visit and look at the old Toronto ephemera.

R. Dean Taylor

R. Dean Taylor is a Toronto born recording artist, songwriter and record producer who worked for Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. Taylor's credits include such hits as "Love Child" and "I'm Living In Shame" by the Supremes, "All I Need" by the Temptations, "I'll Turn To Stone" by the Four Tops, and "Just Look What You've Done" by Brenda Holloway.

He put out a bunch of terrific singles in the 60s, for example“There’s A Ghost in My House” (Tamla Motown ‎VIP-25042) from 1967:

Taylor had a huge hit in 1970 with “Indiana Wants Me” which went to #1 in Canada and the US.

The following is a clip of R. Dean Taylor with “Don’t Fool Around“ (the flipside of “There’s A Ghost In My House”) broadcast on the Dutch tv program TopPop in 1974:


The Trump administration rolls out the new Computer’s for Agriculture stimulus program to farms across the midwest.

The Supremes

When the Supremes arrived at Toronto Intrernational Airport, 1966.

Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Diana Ross.

Pictures by Boris Spremo, courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

The Allan Sisters

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

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

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.

Big Town Boys

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

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

Tobi Lark and Toronto

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!

Jackie Shane

RIP to the great, underappreciated Jackie Shane.

May 15, 1940 to February 22, 2019.

Dr. Music

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.

Terry Black

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

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 Paupers: Ellis Island

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.

Hendrix in 1969

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.

John G. Parkinson, QC

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)