Category Archives: Toronto

The Private Collection

Private Collection Photo
Richard Kuzniak sent me the photo above of the Private Collection, a band he used to see weekly at the El Patio nightclub in Yorkville. Ivan Amirault wrote to me with info on the band and the clippings seen below:

The Private Collection, RPM, May 13, 1967
The Private Collection, RPM, May 13, 1967
from left: Aldo Tarini, Dan Salhani, Jacques Chartrand, and Dave Mouslaison

Dave Mouslaison – lead guitar, organ, vocals
Aldo Tarini – rhythm and lead guitar, vocals
Jacques Chartrand – bass, vocals
Dan Salhani – drums, vocals

The Private Collection were from Sudbury but relocated to Toronto. They performed regularly at The Flick and El Patio, managed by Mike Burak, a part-owner of the clubs. RPM magazine reported on October 2, 1967 that the band had just done a session at Sound Canada with Rick Shorter producing.

Ivan wrote to me “They were a very good harmony band. Dave Moulaison was later in Aaron Space who recorded a great LP on Warner Brothers only in Canada.

“Jocko Chartrand was also in Buckstone Hardware who had a 45 on Apex here in Canada. It also came with a picture sleeve. The core of that band was from North Bay, about 1 1/2 hours east of Sudbury. Joko also made a couple of fairly good solo singer/songwriter type LPs in the 80s.”

Ivan has over two hours of home recordings of the band, plus a few songs from their never-released studio sessions.

The Private Collection. RPM, October 2, 1967
The Private Collection. RPM, October 2, 1967
The Private Collection RPM October 28, 1967
The Private Collection, RPM October 28, 1967


 Patrician-Anne in RPM, October 11, 1965
RPM, October 11, 1965

P.F. Sloan's Blue Lipstick, Patrician-Anne, Billboard, November 13, 1965
Billboard, November 13, 1965
Ivan Amirault sent in these two great ads for Patrician-Anne, who had a single featuring a P.F. Sloan original “Blue Lipstick” b/w “What About Me” on Arc 1113 from late ’65.She also has the great “Changin’ Time” on the CTV After Four LP that is best known for the song “Four in the Morning” by the Quiet Jungle (as the Scarlet Ribbon).

Patrician-Anne was the stage name of Patrician Anne McKinnon, sister of singer and actress Catherine McKinnon, and wife of Brian Ahern, a long-time producer and musician.

Brian had his own groups, the Offbeats and the Badd Cedes, whose song “Dolly Magic” was released on two singles as the Chapter V: Verve Forecast KF5046 with “The Sun Is Green” and again on Verve Forecast KF5057 with “Headshrinker”, all three songs Ahern originals. Brian also played with 3’s a Crowd. More on the Badd Cedes at Nova Scotia Classic Rock.

Patricia often appeared on Frank Cameron’s TV show, Frank’s Bandstand. An Arc LP Do You “Wanna” Dance (The Best of Frank’s Bandstand) has covers of “I Only Want to Be With You” and “As Tears Go By”, credited to Patricia McKinnon, along with a couple songs by the Offbeats, “Wild Weekend” and “Swingin’ Shepherd Blues”.

Patrician-Anne is also featured on various volumes of CBC-TV’s Singalong Jubilee, which I haven’t heard.

 RPM, November 15, 1965
RPM, November 15, 1965

The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside & Thump and Twang CDs

The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside (Pacemaker PACE-086, 2011)
The Ugly Ducklings – Thump & Twang (Pacemaker PACE-087, 2011)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

Considered by many to be Canada’s premier ’60s garage rock outfit, for decades fans of The Ugly Ducklings had to content themselves with the group’s handful of Yorktown singles and one LP, Somewhere Outside. So it was with some shock I discovered these two (two!) CDs just released by Pacemaker, and as far as I can tell all but one cut on them are previously unavailable!

The Somewhere Inside set comes first chronologically and has as its basis a January 1967 appearance on CHUM radio in the Ducklings’ hometown of Toronto. Framed by on-air interview segments are six live in studio recordings, three demos, and one alternate mix. The live in studio tracks are all of good fidelity, and of the familiar numbers also recorded for Yorkville, “Nothin'” features a more elastic and looser Roger Mayne lead guitar, while this “My Little Red Book” is a bit faster and more like the Love version.

Another of the tracks listed as “live” is “My Watch” which is an original Dave Bingham and Glynn Bell composition and has a solid funky blues quality to it. The cover of “I’m A Man” did turn up previously in Sundazed’s Garage Beat ’66 compilation series, but it goes well with the short take on “Home In Your Heart”.

Of the three songs listed as demos (only here does the fidelity vary, though never too badly), all are covers. “Somebody Help Me” was a hit for the Hollies, “You’ve Got It Made” is the blues song, and “Out Of Sight” the soul number. There is also a great alternate mix of “Postman’s Fancy” which has a more psychedelic effect than the original side. With all the historic interview and radio segments this disc makes a good addition to the Ugly Ducklings collection.

The recordings on Thump & Twang begin with a November 1967 studio session wherein new member Mike McKenna’s original “The Blues Fell This Morning” is cut. Following Glynn Bell’s departure the Ducklings continued recording as a four piece, still fronted by singer Dave Bingham and backed by original drummer Robin Boers who is said to have added a second bass drum ala Ginger Baker at this time. Aside from two takes of Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge A Book” (one being from a TV appearance), all tracks are written by Bingham and/or McKenna. They’re all solid early 1968 vintage blues rock pointing toward the future Mainline group and sometimes with a bit of a Byrds country vibe. Apparently this was not the kind of hit single music Yorkville had been hoping for however, and after the falling out with their label the Ugly Ducklings broke up.

See the Pacemaker site for more information on this release.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

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Bobby Kris and the Imperials

Bobby Kris and the Imperials, 1966
Matt Faulkner spoke to Bob Burrows, vocalist and leader of Bobby Kris and the Imperials, and writes this article about the group:

Bobby Kris and the Imperials stood at the front of Toronto’s fruitful R&B scene in the mid-60s, alongside other notable acts like Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights, Mandala and Little Caesar and the Consuls. The group was one of the fourteen groups to take stage at the legendary “Toronto Sound” show at Maple Leaf Gardens, where they shared the stage with Toronto garage and psych greats such as Luke and the Apostles, The Ugly Ducklings, and the Paupers.

Originally titled J.S. and the Imperials, with Jimmy Snowden on vocals, the group had a number of lineup changes and recruitments from other bands. In early 1965, Bobby Kris joined the line up, and shortly after the key recording line up of the band was formed.

Bobby Kris (Bob Burrows) – vocals
Jerry Mann (aka Jerry Shymanski) – tenor sax
Rick Loth – tenor sax
Marty Fisher – piano
Gene Martynec – guitar
Dave Konvalinka – bass
Gordon MacBain – drums

The band fashioned themselves primarily an R&B outfit, having a hit with the Dionne Warwick classic “Walk On By”, and boasting a seven part line up, including two saxophones and keyboards. However, their recorded output does little to reflect this side of their sound, as the bulk of the songs on their two singles are more on the folky garage side of things. “Walk on By” was in fact the B-side of their first single, with the Bobby Kris/Gene Martynec penned “Travellin’ Bag” on the top side.

Their second single was fronted with a cover of Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me”, and a Byrds-like Kris/Martynec original, “A Year from Today” on the flip. It only took a lone three hour recording session for all four tracks to be laid down by the group, whom at the time consisted of Bobby Kris on lead vocals, Marty Fisher on keyboard, Gord MacBain on drums, Dave Konvalinka on bass, Gene Martynec on guitar, and Jerry Mann and Rick Loth sharing saxophone duties. Despite the recordings being a departure from their regular material, these singles hold up as worth while listening today, with “Travellin’ Bag” being one of my personal favourite recordings to come from the mid-60s “Toronto Sound”.

“We wrote the two songs as you know. To the best of my recollection we never played either one of them ever again,” said Kris, in one of our many online conversations. “For our normal fan base in Toronto, those songs were, well… an embarrassment, which explains why we never played them live. People who were into James Brown and Ray Charles didn’t want to hear Herman’s Hermits. If we played ‘Travellin’ Bag’ at one of those dances people would have thrown stuff at us.”

“The powers that be behind the recording session – including that wizard in the control room Stan and our supposed manager at the time, Fred White – determined that rhythm and blues was dead meat and that the only way for us to be successful was to make British style recordings. It didn’t occur to them that a lot of those British bands were in fact listening to American R&B. They didn’t want us to record ‘Walk On By’ at all. Not sure how we got away with that. In fact it was the B-side to ‘Travellin’ Bag’. Thankfully some DJ in Toronto turned it over! For some reason or other Eugene and I got commandeered or volunteered to write some songs, although we had never written any songs before. Somebody stumbled across a Dylan song that nobody had covered yet that we all liked. Not sure who did the arrangement on ‘She Belongs to Me.’ Likely Konvalinka.”

“We continued to be an R&B band after the session. We ended up trying some rather extreme experiments with some really fundamental blues songs by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and such that was somewhat imitative of The Hawk’s recording with John Hammond Jr. – So Many Roads. But even then we were still fundamentally in the same musical neighbourhood. Unfortunately the pressure from all these supposed wise men to change our evil ways led to us throwing out the horns. No more three-piece silk and wool suits. Now we had flowery shirts or polka dots. Talk about not cutting your own path. Everyone in the world was doing that. Chances of being ‘discovered’ in that environment were about the same as winning the lottery. They say Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil. We sold ours to a bunch of dorks on Yonge St.”

“By the way, not long after that, along came Paul Butterfield and others who showed there was still a great market for that approach and style. We did have lots of fun eventually covering a new kind of material. We tried to be selective about it, and still leaned towards the bluesier stuff. That was the most fundamental problem Bobby Kris and The Imperials always had: We were exclusively a cover band. That’s mostly because we were playing teen dances and, later, bars where people expected to hear certain tunes, and you either played them or you didn’t play there. There was very little if any interest in original material in those venues.”

Bobby Kris in RPM, November 29, 1965
When doing some research on the group, I stumbled upon an interesting ad for one of the band’s shows later in their career. It was in 1968 at the Brass Rail Tavern, and the ad boasted that the show would feature “4 Topless Psychedelic Go-Go Dancers”. “We drank our brains out to get through the night there,” was Kris’s only remark.

During their tenure, the group managed to share the stage with an impressive list of bands, including The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Beach Boys, Jose Feliciano, and Wilson Pickett, who at the time boasted Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Hendrix actually joined The Imperials on stage during one of their sets at the Night Owl. However, by late 1967, enough band members had gone on to other projects, that the group decided to call it quits.

Gene Martynec went on to form Kensington Market in May, and in September Marty Fisher and Gord MacBaingot recruited for Bruce Cockburn’s Flying Circus. Kris auditioned for the vocal position in Flying Circus with a favourable outcome, until, as Kris puts it “they decided that no one could sing Bruce’s songs better than Bruce, which was true.” Kris went on to front Livingstone’s Journey for a brief period before reforming an altered line up of The Imperials in mid-1968. A year later Gord MacBain left the reformed Imperials to go to England and join Mapleoak with Marty Fisher and original Kinks bassist, Pete Quaife, and thus Bobby Kris and the Imperials were done for good.

Special thanks to Nick Warburton and Bob Burrows (aka Bobby Kris). You can check out Nick’s article for a more detailed history of the band here.

Thanks also to Ivan Amirault for the RPM article scans.

Bobby Kris also put out an EP in 1995 titled “Now” which you can check out on iTunes.



Nick Warburton assembled this list of advertised live shows:Advertised gigs

June 18 1965 – Mimicombo, Mimico, Ontario
July 9 1965 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
July 17 1965 – Purple Candle Club, Wasaga Beach, Ontario
August 7 1965 – Purple Candle Club, Wasaga Beach, Ontario (new line up with Wayne and Loth)
August 27 1965 – Dunn’s Pavilion, Bala, Ontario
August 28 1965 – Club 888, Toronto
September 4 1965 – Club 888, Toronto
September 24 1965 – Mimacombo A Go-Go, Mimacombo, Ontario
November 5 1965 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario (not sure about date)
November 28 1965 – Avenue Road Club, Toronto
December 18 1965 – Club 888, Toronto
December 25 1965 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with The Sparrows and The Twilights
December 26 1965 – Hop in the park, Toronto
January 28 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
January 29 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
March 19 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto
April 13 1966 – O’Keefe Centre, Toronto with National Ballet Company and Susan Taylor
April 15 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto
May 8 1966 – Massey Hall, Toronto with The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Big Town Boys and Little Caesar & The Consuls
May 14 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto (one of Wayne and Loth’s final dates)
June 12 1966 – Modern Age Teen Lounge, Toronto (one of Davis’ first dates)
June 26 1966 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough with The Five Rogues
July 8 1966 – Balmy Beach Club, Scarborough, Ontario
July 9 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
July 13 1966 – Whitby Arena, Whitby, Ontario with The Five Rogues, The Ugly Ducklings and Jon and Lee & The Checkmates
July 20 1966 – Don Mills Curling Club, Don Mills, Ontario with Jon and Lee & The Checkmates, The British Modbeats and Dunc & The Deacons
July 22 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
July 23 1966 – Hunter’s Beach Pavilion, Lake Simcoe, Ontario
July 26 1966 – Balmy Beach Club, Scarborough, Ontario
July 30 1966 – Purple Candle Club, Wasaga Beach, Ontario
July 30-31 1966 – Purple Candle Club, Wasaga Beach, Ontario with R K & The Associates
August 2 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena with The Stitch In Tyme and Luke & The Apostles (one of Shymanski’s final dates?)
August 20 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
August 21 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
August 30 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena with The Five Rogues and The Fiends
September 3 1966 – Port Carling Surf Club, Port Carling, Ontario
September 9 1966 – Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
September 16 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
September 24 1966 – Maple Leaf Gardens with The Last Words, Luke & The Apostles, The Ugly Ducklings, The Tripp, The Paupers, The Big Town Boys, The Stitch In Tyme, The Spasstiks, Roy Kenner & The Associates, Little Caesar & The Consuls and others
September 30 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto (blue room)
October 8 1966 – Club 888, Toronto with The Tripp
October 22 1966 – Club Kingsway, Toronto with Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, The Ugly Ducklings and The Ardels
November 27 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
December 18 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
December 23 1966 – Horseshoe Valley, Barrie, Ontario
January 6 1967 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with A Passing Fancy and The Dana
January 27 1967 – Shelburne Arena, Shelburne, Ontario
March 1967 – The Syndicate Club, Toronto
March 24 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto with Franklin Sheppard and The Good Sheppards and R K and The Associates
May 13 1967 – Whitby Arena, Whitby, Ontario with Shawne Jackson, Jay Jackson & The Majestics, The Last Words, E G Smith & The Power, Jack Hardin & The Silhouettes, Roy Kenner & The Associates, The Tripp, The Ugly Ducklings and others (possibly one of Martynec’s final dates)
May 27 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
June 9 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
June 10 1967 – Scarborough Arena Gardens, Scarborough, Ontario with Eddie Spencer & The Mission, The Magic Circus, The Tripp, Roy Kenner & The Associates, The Lords of London and others
June 16 1967 – Bramalea Arena, Bramalea, Ontario with James and Bobby Purify with The Mission
June 17 1967 – Don Mills Curling Club, Toronto with The Symbol
July 29 1967 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough with BTB 4 and The Dynamics
June 13-14 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto
July 19 1968 – Brass Rail Tavern, Toronto
October 5 1968 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
June 19-21 1969 – The Night Owl, Toronto

Dates taken from the Toronto Telegram’s After Four section, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

RPM, November 15, 1965

RPM, April 18, 1966

RPM, May 16, 1966

RPM, June 6, 1966

RPM, June 6, 1966

Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights

At the Edison, 1962, from left: Barry Stein, Richie Knight, Mike Brough, Doug Chappell, George Semkiw, Barry Lloyd
Doug Chappell, bass player for Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights wrote to me with the story, photos and songs of the group.

This is actually the story of three bands, Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights, Mid-Knights Blues Band and The Mid-Knights Revue. The time frame covered is from 1962 until 1969, it is an evolution that includes Rock, Blues and R&B.

The Mid-Knights Early Days

In the late fifties friends George Semkiw (guitar) and Leo Donaghue (sax) started the band with fellow members John McCanliss (guitar) and Jim Gwilliams (drums). The band started playing some dates in the area around Toronto. The band decided it required a bass player and Roger Woods is brought into the unit, also joining was Barry Lloyd on piano along with vocalist Rich Hubbard, but by 1961 the band loses all but Semkiw, Lloyd and Hubbard. Unfazed they go about the business of recruiting new players that will eventually become Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights.

Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights, 1963, from left: Mike Brough, Richie Knight, Barry Stein, George Semkiw, Doug Chappell, Barry Lloyd

Richie Knight and The Mid-KnightsRich Hubbard (Richie Knight) – vocals
George Semkiw – guitar
Barry Lloyd – piano, then organ
Mike Brough – sax
Doug Chappell – bass
Barry Stein – drums

In 1961 Semkiw, Lloyd and Hubbard add new players Barry Stein (Drums), Mike Brough (Sax), Doug Chappell (Bass). At this time Barry Lloyd switches from piano to Hammond organ. The band began playing dances around Southern Ontario quickly becoming one of the circuit’s favourite groups.

It’s amusing that being a garage band we never rehearsed in a garage. Our first space was in Barry Lloyd’s dining room and living room. Had to be since he had a piano there and then a little later it is where he had his Hammond. It’s amazing to me today to think that we did not get any grief from the neighbours (it was a semi-detached house) or Barry’s Mom and Dad. After Barry left the band and Ray Reeves joined we moved to his basement in a small bungalow. Again no problems from parents or neighbours.

Summer of 1962 the group played the entire summer playing bars on the famed Yonge Street Strip. It was at one these joints that Richard (promotion man at Arc) saw the band playing and thought that a song the boys were playing could be a hit record and brought it to the attention of Bill Gilliland.

That song was CHARLENA!

The band had first heard “Charlena” on a record by The Sevilles (a band from Los Angeles) at a Toronto dance hall. It was was quite a rough recording but the band loved the song and at a practice learned how to play it, with a slightly different version due to the fact they were learning it from memory. It quickly became a favourite for the fans at the dances where the band played.

Finally in early 1963 Gilliland got the band into ARC’s studio (with house producer Ben Weatherby), actually it was the label’s office and storage during the day and doubled as the studio at night. With metal garbage pails lifted off the floor and stuffed with rags to stifle any sound the band started the recording process. There were to be no overdubs, vocals and instruments were to be laid down as one item on a mono tape recorder. The process took a few hours stopping each time there was any error or to move microphones and even one time due to a train passing behind the buildings which had no sound proofing. Four hours later Charlena was recorded with a “B” side of “You Got The Power” a ballad originally done by James Brown.

ARC Records approached the band with the idea of not using just the name The Mid-knights on the record label since most artists of the day were featuring the name of the singer. After much discussion the name Richie Knight was arrived at and the birth of the new name Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights.

“Charlena” was presented to radio in the Spring of 1963. A local radio station CKEY was first to play the record but the powerhouse station was CHUM who took a wait and see attitude. Eventually due to fan demand CHUM began playing the song and it quickly became a listener favourite. “Charlena” had an infectious beat that allowed it to rise to the amazing position on the chart of #1, a position it held for two weeks. This was the first time that a local Toronto rock ‘n’ roll band had attained the prized #1 position on the CHUM chart! The record went on to sell in excess of 100,000.

Every dance wanted the band because with a hit record the teens flocked to wherever the band played, it was a very exciting time. The band played such memorable places such as The Balmy Beach Canoe Club, Crang Plaza, The Met, Mazaryk Hall, The Jubilee Pavilion in Oshawa, and The Pav in Orillia. Simply put the band played virtually every dancehall in Southern Ontario. The band’s two biggest shows were at Maple Leaf Gardens, the first was in 1963 while “Charlena” was still on the CHUM chart and the station presented a Dick Clark Caravan of Stars show at the Gardens. They were not only the only Canadian act on the bill but they also had the record that was highest on the chart at the time. Other acts included The Dovels, Dick & Dee Dee and Gene Pitney.

When we played Maple Leaf Gardens on the Dick Clark Cavalcade of Stars show on July 19, 1963 we were still babies in the business. It was quite a shock to hear Dick Clark reaming someone out using a string of profanities that we couldn’t fathom the baby faced icon of the teen world knowing let alone using.

Before Charlena hit we backed up many artists that toured without their own bands here are some memories of some:

Barbara George – we backed her up at dance hall called Mazaryk Hall that held about 1000 teens. When we had a rehearsal it was obvious that Barbara did not have a large repetoire. The only song she knew other than “I Know” was Ray Charles “What’d I Say”. The performance was the two songs with “What’d I Say” going on for about 20 minutes, most of which she shook her booty with numerous guys she pulled up from the audience.

Jimmy Reed – this show was at a venue that was in the YMCA in downtown Hamilton, Ont. His stuff was very simple, straight ahead blues, the only problem was that Jimmy did not really use 12 bar blues, he would do 10, 11 and sometimes 13 bars, so we had to listen to where he was going and try to follow. This was further exacerbated by his penchant for also changing keys in mid-song for no discernable reason.

Carl Dobkins Jr. – his major hit was “My Heart Is An Open Book” and he surprised us by being the most together of all the artists we backed up. The gig was at a summer dance hall in Orillia , Ont. called the The Pavillion (a great summer venue that held an audience of about 600), it was always called “The Pav”. Carl showed up with sheet music charts for us, we only used the chord patterns and the gig was really good; he was a consummate professional.

Bobby Curtola – Worked a few times with Bobby, he was a pro and was always easy to get along with.

I am quite sure that most bands had the same experience we had when playing High Schools. It seems that the only door that the custodians would allow us to use to bring in our equipment was the door furthest away from the area we were to perform, even if there was an entrance very close to the stage area. It also seemed that as the last note of the performance was still ringing they were there telling us to pack up immediately and leave.

Barry Lloyd’s parents house, 1962, from left: Doug Chappell, Barry Lloyd, Barry Stein, George Semkiw, in background Barry Lloyd’s sister Myrna.

Backing Bobby Curtola, 1962, from left: Chappell, Brough, Curtola, Semkiw, Knight, (hidden Barry Lloyd)

CHUM Chart of July 1, 1963 – shows Charlena at #1 for second week

Dick Clark Parade of Stars, July 19, 1963 at Maple Leaf Gardens

1963, from left, back row: Richie Knight, Barry Lloyd; front row: Doug Chappell, George Semkiw, Barry Stein, Mike Brough

Late in 1963 or early ‘64 the band records “The Joke” and soon after organist Barry Lloyd departs the band and is replaced by Ray Reeves. The second show at the Gardens was to open the show by The Rolling Stones, April 25, 1965.

Rich Hubbard (Richie Knight) – vocals
George Semkiw – guitar
Ray Reeves – organ
Mike Brough – sax
Doug Chappell – bass
Barry Stein – drums

Seeing the action, other Toronto bands entered the recording studio and the Toronto music scene changed incredibly because they knew there was a chance to get on the radio. Little Caesar and the Consuls, Robbie Lane and The Disciples, Jon & Lee and The Checkmates, David Clayton Thomas and The Shays, The Big Town Boys, Shirley Mathews, The Sparrow, The Mynah Birds and The Mandala. The music scene in Toronto exploded!

Third lineup, 1964, from left: Barry Stein, George Semkiw, Richie Knight, Doug Chappell, Ray Reeves

1966, sleeve for their RCA single, “That’s Alright” / “Work Song” – note different spelling of “Richie”. Click to see back

RCA promo card, 1966.
From left: Rick Bell, George Semkiw, Barry Stein, Richie Knight, Ray Reeves and Doug Chappell

The Mid-Knights Blues Band, 1966, from left: Richard Newell, Ray Reeves, Barry Stein, George Semkiw, and Doug Chappell

Mid-Knights Latter Years

1966 saw Brough (sax) packing it in to move to Oklahoma with his regular day gig resulting in the band adding Rick Bell on piano. Then with the departure of Rich, also in 1966, the band took a different direction with the addition Richard Newell on vocals and mouth harp. This was the era of The Mid-Knights Blues Band. Eventually, Ronnie Hawkins cherry picked Bell to join his band The Hawks, the Mid-Knights, in chameleon fashion, changed yet again.

The Mid-Knights Blues Band, 1966, from left: Barry Stein, Richard Newell, Doug Chappell, Ray Reeves and George Semkiw

The Mid-Knights Revue, 1966

The new result was The Mid-Knights Revue, a soul-charged R&B unit. Added to the core of Semkiw (guitar), Stein (drums), Reeves (Hammond organ) and Chappell (bass) were Bill Pinkerton (drums, yes 2 drummers, both had double bass drums!) , Dave Stilwell (trumpet), Rick Cairns (trumpet), Jerry Shymansky (sax), Mark Smith (trombone) and Newell on vocals. One single was recorded for Warner Brothers and Ronnie Hawkins came into the picture again grabbing Newell and soon dubbed him “King Bisquit Boy”. The band rebounded quickly adding vocalists Frank Querci (Robert E. Lee) and Karen Titko. This version of the band created a huge wall of sound playing mainly the R&B songs of the Stax/Volt type of artists.

The tracks by Mid-Knights Blues Band and Mid-Knights Revue are tracks recorded during our rehearsals, we were lucky enough to have RCA Victor studios as a practice place since George Semkiw was a recording engineer there. George was able to get us Studio A, a huge room, to rehearse in. It was soundproof of course and had the best recording gear of the day. At the end of many practice sessions we laid down tracks with George working the board and playing guitar. The size of the room really paid off when we got to the Revue stage of the band, two drummers both having double kick, bass, guitar, keys and a four-man horn section.

Some tracks are taken from tape, some from 45’s and others from laquers (also called soft cuts) so there is some scratching but it almost makes it all the more realistic.

The meeting place for most Toronto Bands on Saturday morning was a great music store called Long & McQuade, the original store at the corner of Yonge St. and Collier St. Players from most of the Toronto bands would meet and trade road stories. What an amazing little store this was, the two Jacks (Long & McQuade) offered musicians the ability to buy on credit financed by the store, they trusted that the bill would be paid. Pete Traynor had a space above the store where he built the original Traynor amps, he was an amazing guy who invented a great line of amplifiers and sound systems. The manufacturing was later re-located to a large manufacturing plant in Toronto and became a huge business.

This story is one where we did not even play. Jimi Hendrix played Maple Gardens, Toronto ( May 3, 1969) and the Musicians Union had a rule that any music show at the Gardens had to hire a certain amount of Toronto Local musicians whether they played or not, I believe the number was around 31. I became the leader for the gig and gathered other Toronto rock players to make up the number needed. We didn’t play, just sat in the nose bleed section and watched the show. Jimi and his manager were the producers of the show, so after they finished I went to collect the monies for the Toronto musicians. They said for me to meet them at their hotel the next morning to settle up. Of course when I got there they had checked out and fled the scene. So I filed a grievance with our Local 149. Amazingly about two months later the New York local showed up at Madison Square Gardens and informed Jimi of his debt and would not let him perform until they received the money due. It was sent to Toronto and our local lads got paid.

Doug Chappell, 2010

RPM, March 30, 1968
Thanks to Ivan Amirault for this scan
Where Are They Now

Richie Knight (Rich Hubbard) – after the band studied Finance and Marketing at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and in 1968 went on to manage Yorkville Records and Yorkville Talent Mgt., which was a part of ARC Records, The Mid-Knights original label. Presently owns a magazine publishing company.

George Semkiw – record producer, musician, recording and live event engineer

Barry Stein – runs own accounting firm

Barry Lloyd – retired from insurance industry, resides in Calgary

Mike Brough – after many years in men’s apparel industry now teaches business at Seneca College, Toronto

Doug Chappell – retired after years in the record industry (A&M Records, Island Records, Virgin Records, Mercury Records)

Ray Reeves – settled in Atlanta, Georgia

Richard Bell – after Hawkins he went on to play in Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, returned to Toronto to do session work. Deceased in 2007

Richard Newell – after Hawkins he played with Crowbar, released records as King Biscuit Boy. Deceased in 2003

Frank Querci – was in the real estate business, Deceased

Leo Donaghue – presently resides in Australia


Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights

1963 – Charlena/You’ve Got The Power (Arc 1028)
1963/64 – The Joke/My Kind Of Love (Arc 1037)

Musicians on above songs: Knight, Semkiw, Stein, Lloyd, Brough & Chappell

1964 – Homework/Come Back – Try Me (Arc 1047)
1965 – Think It Over/You Hurt Me (Arc 1076)

Musicians on above songs: Knight, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves & Chappell

1965 – Packin’ Up/I’ll Go Crazy (Arc 1078)
1965 – One Good Reason/My Kind Of Love (Arc 1110)

Musicians on above songs: Knight, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves & Chappell

1966 – That’s Alright/Work Song (RCA Victor 3392)

Musicians on above songs: Knight, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves, Chappell & Bell

as The Mid-Knights (Richard Newell, vocals)

1968 – Soul Man/Somebody Somewhere Needs You (Warner Bros. 7180)

Musicians on above songs: Newell, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves, Chappell, Pinkerton, Stilwell, Cairns, Smith & Shymansky

Unreleased tracks

The Mid-Knights Blues Band

Goin’ To New York
Whatcha Gonna Do About It
99 1/2
Don’t Fight It
Keep on Tryin’

Musicians on above songs: Bell, Newell, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves & Chappell

Mid-Knights Big Blues Band

Knock on Wood
You Don’t Know Like I Know

Musicians on above songs: Newell, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves, Chappell, Pinkerton, Stilwell, Cairns, Smith & Shymansky

Mid-Knights Revue

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Turn On Your Lovelights
When You Comin’ Home
Keep Me Hangin’ On
Losing You
Piece of My Heart
To Sir With Love

Musicians on above songs: Querci, Titko, Semkiw, Stein, Reeves, Chappell, Pinkerton, Stilwell, Cairns, Smith & Shymansky

August 19, 2006 Mid-Knight reunion BBQ, from left, back row: Richie Knight, Barry Lloyd; front row: Doug Chappell, George Semkiw, Barry Stein, Mike Brough

The Paupers

The Paupers, 1967

The Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 should have been The Paupers’ launch pad to international fame. Only four months earlier, the Canadian folk-rock band had seemed destined for the top when Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman bought their contract and began hyping them as the next biggest thing since The Beatles. A month prior to the festival, the group had showcased its talent at a string of well received shows at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, and had spent two solid weeks working up a suitable set list for the forthcoming festival. As Canadian rock journalist, Nicholas Jennings notes in his excellent book, Before The Goldrush, the opportunity to “blow away the competition looked good when the band was scheduled to follow mellow popsters The Association.”

But from the minute The Paupers launched into their set, everything that could go wrong did, and in the subsequent media frenzy, the group’s performance was all but ignored. Within six months, the group once hyped to surpass The Beatles, had lost not only its most inspirational member but was facing mounting debts.

The disappointment of Monterey must have seemed a million miles away from New York’s Café Au Go Go, where, on a freezing cold evening in March 1967, The Paupers proceeded to demolish the headlining act, Jefferson Airplane, then making its East Coast debut. Performing in front of a media and record industry-packed audience that included The Beatles’ Brian Epstein and Albert Grossman, The Paupers couldn’t have picked a better time to make an impression.

While the band became the first Canadian rock band to snare a high profile American manager and a lucrative American recording contract, The Paupers never received the adulation and fame that they deserved. Along the way however, the group produced some of the finest music to emerge from Canada during the ‘60s, and live were arguably one of the most colourful, dynamic and electrifying groups on the North American stage.

The driving force throughout much of The Paupers’ career was drummer Ronn (Skip) Prokop (b. 13 December 1943, Hamilton, Ontario). An accomplished musician, Prokop had been playing music in his hometown since the age of eight when he picked up the accordion. Deserting music for two years, he took up drums at 13 after joining the Preston Scout House Drum Corps. Such was Prokop’s prowess that, according to an article in the music magazine The Canadian, he ended up becoming an instructor and worked throughout Ontario. Prokop also won the national individual rudimental championships two years in a row and composed a percussion quartet that grabbed another national award.

Boredom crept in and Prokop subsequently took up guitar. In early 1964, he formed a folk trio, The Riverside Three, but this was ditched after six months in favour of playing in a local dance band. He then formed another folk trio, but soon found himself out of work when the local hotel he was playing at discovered he was underage and passed the word around. When The Beatles and Rolling Stones-led British Invasion landed on North American shores, Prokop realised that rock was where “it” was at and moved up to Toronto to start his own band.

In an interview for Canada Music Quarterly, Prokop told journalist Joey Cee that the decision to form The Paupers was driven by his desire to put together a band that used electric 12-string guitars. The Riverside Three had toyed with the idea, but somehow had never got round to realising Prokop’s dream. Perhaps for this reason, the first person that Prokop approached to join his new project was his former cohort, singer/guitarist Bill Marion (real name: Bill Misener).

Paupers 1965, from left: Denny Gerrard, Skip Prokop, Chuck Beal, Bill Marion. Photo courtesy of Bev Davies.
Prokop and Marion immediately got to work looking for suitable players to join their fledging group. Next to join was guitarist Chuck Beal (b. 6 April 1944, Scarborough, Ontario), who was recruited via the Toronto Musicians’ Association’s notice board. Working at Larry Sykes music in Scarborough during the day and playing the bars along Toronto’s Yonge Street strip at night, Beal was intrigued by Prokop’s concept and duly accepted the offer. Equally important, he introduced his friend, Denny Gerrard (b. 28 February 1947, Scarborough, Ontario), a self-taught guitarist, who had apparently purchased his first bass from Beal.

With Beal and Gerrard on board, and initially dubbed The Spats, the group spent two weeks rehearsing material in Beal’s basement, before venturing into Hallmark Recording Studios to lay down three Prokop originals – “Never Send You Flowers”, “Sooner Than Soon” and “Free As A Bird”. “Never Send You Flowers” duly attracted the attention of CHUM disc jockey Duff Roman, who, impressed by the song, offered to manage the band. With Roman calling the shots, “Never Send You Flowers” was released as the group’s debut single in early 1965. The single found its way to Glen Walters aka Big G Walters, a disc jockey at CKEY, and following popular demand, became the station’s top hit.

At the Maple Leaf Gardens, April 25, 1965. Photo courtesy of Bev Davies.
According to Beal, the sudden interest took the group by surprise. In The Canadian, he remarked: “We had all sorts of bookings coming in…and we only knew three songs. We rehearsed for another four months so we could play a show.” The band’s persistence paid off and on 25 April 1965, The Paupers (as they were now called) made only their third public performance supporting The Rolling Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The decision to change the name had been thrust on the band at an early stage when another outfit in the US was found operating as The Spats. Apparently, the new name emerged on the way down to a local restaurant. “We had 50 cents among us,” Prokop told The Canadian. “Bill said, ‘Why don’t we call ourselves The Paupers’?” The name seemed rather fitting. Despite the Maple Leaf Gardens show, and regular appearances at the under 21 club in the Canadian National Exhibition during the summer, the group was virtually broke.Nevertheless, The Paupers persevered and in the autumn followed up “Never Send You Flowers” with a new single, the blues-inflected “If I Told My Baby”, which like its predecessor was issued on the local Red Leaf label.

Red Leaf Records Promo, 1966, photo courtesy of Bev Davies.
“As I recall, Red Leaf Records was formed by Duff Roman, Stan Klease (Big Town Boys’ producer), Walt Greelis (founder of RPMmagazine and what became the Juno awards) and probably some other chaps that I never met,” says Beal. “The idea was to have a nationally distributed Canadian record label that was promoted through a network of key radio stations. Canada does not have national radio stations other than the CBC and at that time, music videos were just somebody’s dream. This means that unless a bunch of radio stations across the country jump on the same record at the same time, national exposure for Canadian artists by radio was then and still is impossible. Red Leaf was a good idea but with limited financing, could not live up to the hopes of those involved.

”Not surprisingly then, “If I Told My Baby”, despite its undoubted chart potential, and a great lead vocal by Bill Marion, fell on deaf ears. The Paupers responded with the sultry “For What I Am”, which was issued on Duff Roman’s own label, Roman Records in December 1965. The song’s moody undercurrent hinted at a growing maturity in the fledging Prokop/Marion song-writing partnership, but like its predecessor it failed to chart. Perhaps for this reason, the group opted to issue a cover, “Long Tall Sally” as a follow up, but once again the Canadian record buying public stayed away.

Nevertheless, The Paupers had begun to pick up more steady work, most notably at the El Patio in Toronto’s hip Yorkville district. It was here that the group’s luck changed courtesy of Bernie Finklestein (later singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s longstanding manager).

Finkelstein was an interesting character who first dabbled with managing a band while at school. Over the next few years he drifted from job to job – there are rumours that he slept in hot dog stands and laundromats, and at one point got by working as a caretaker in a local theatre. Somehow he ended up at the El Patio, making expresso coffees during the evenings, and cleaning the premises during the day. It was during an afternoon shift that he first caught The Paupers, who at the time were rehearsing for their debut weeklong engagement. Finkelstein was suitably impressed. Not one for mincing his words, he boldly told the group that the best acts around were those writing original material and immediately offered his services as a manager.

Up to this point, the group had been handling most of its affairs; apart from producing the band, Roman had little input other than acting as its publisher. However, as Prokop recalled to Ritchie Yorke in his book Axes, Chops & Hot Licks, “there had been a lot of hassles and uptightness”, and when Finkelstein arrived “with a lot of flashy ideas”, the group decided to dispense with Roman’s services.

Finkelstein’s fast-talking finesse soon got results when Arc Records offered to record the band that summer. The label, it seems, may even have got as far as putting a recording on tape. According to the Toronto Telegram’s After Four section on Thursday, 14 July, The Paupers were due to perform at the North Toronto Memorial Arena the following Tuesday where fans would get the opportunity to hear the group’s latest recording – “Heart Walking Blues”.

Whether any such recording actually made it on to the market is not entirely clear. No-one in the band seems to recall anything about this particular recording and bearing in mind that The Paupers’ were about to undergo a major upheaval in their line up, it is likely that the recording was quickly ditched with very few, if any, copies being pressed.

“Sooner Than Soon” was used as a b-side to both “Never Send You Flowers” on Red Leaf and “Long Tall Sally” on Roman.

The Paupers, late 1967. Left to right: Denny Gerrard, Chuck Beal, Skip Prokop and Adam Mitchell
Five days after the North Toronto Memorial Arena show, The Paupers played a one-off date at the El Patio shortly after which Marion, who had become increasingly unhappy about his role, handed in his notice. The group’s lead singer cited “hassles regarding his song-writing” as his reason for leaving. Prokop adds that Marion also had a real desire to sing R&B, and was unable to find an outlet for this in The Paupers.

Marion subsequently embarked on a brief solo career, recording a lone single, “Flower Girl” for the Nimbus label in 1967. He then hooked up with The Last Words for a few months before forming the music production company, Cranberry Roadhouse Productions. In 1969, he reverted to his former name, Bill Misener and became a staff producer and manager for RCA’s Sun Bar Productions, later writing for and producing the Quebec group, The Morse Code Transmission. Resuming a solo career in the early ‘70s, he recorded a string of albums for the Grit, CTL and Polydor labels, and enjoyed a sizeable national hit in January 1972 with the single “Little O’l Rock ‘N’ Roll Band”. He subsequently became a successful jingle writer and sang on TV commercials.

Marion’s departure scuttled the Arc deal, but Finkelstein simply walked across the road to the Mousehole folk club and asked singer/songwriter and guitarist Adam Mitchell (b. 24 November 1944, Glasgow, Scotland) to join. The young Scotsman, who’d moved to Toronto at the age of 12, would prove to be the catalyst in raising The Paupers’ profile. Not only did he forge a prolific song-writing partnership with Prokop, but he was also blessed with a distinctive voice.

Growing up in Bolton, Ontario, Mitchell initially played drums but at the age of 17 switched to guitar with the advent of the folk boom. He briefly played in two folk groups, including the CommonFolk, before working solo in local venues like the Riverboat and the Mousehole. Mitchell had caught the band earlier in the year and was impressed. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were really out of sight,” he told The Canadian. “I talked to Skip and we became close friends”. The afternoon Marion walked out, Mitchell was with the band the same day, rehearsing. (In an interesting side note, Mitchell was attending the University of Toronto during this period and majoring in French, but subsequently left before completing his arts degree.)

With Mitchell on board, The Paupers embarked on mammoth rehearsals at the Hawk’s Nest, practising for no less than 13 hours a day! Following Ronnie Hawkins’ example with The Hawks (later The Band), Prokop adopted a taskmaster role and “cracked the whip” during rehearsals while Finkelstein charged band members for infractions. The strict regime had an immediate effect as The Paupers quickly developed a tight stage act. “When we came out,” says Prokop, “the group was completely changed. We had a lot of funky, good-time material.”

Debuting at the Broom and Stone in Scarborough (most likely on 14 August), The Paupers were an instant success, and the following month landed an important slot at the highly publicised 14-hour pop show, sponsored by CHUM radio, and held at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens alongside 14 top local bands.

Over the next few months, the group became one of the biggest draws in Yorkville village, performing at notable venues like the Night Owl, the Hawk’s Nest and Boris’ Red Gas Room. By this stage, the band had developed a captivating stage show, which according to Nicholas Jennings, was “built around earth-shaking drums, a wailing guitar and Denny Gerrard’s mind-boggling bass.”

Gerrard was indeed fast becoming a local legend. Donning his trade-mark Sluggo cap, the inspirational musician would later be voted best bass player two years in a row by US critic Ralph Gleason in Playboy magazine’s annual jazz poll. Beal’s guitar playing was also enthralling, as Nicholas Jennings notes, “it was like an early version of U2’s Edge, full of repeating, tape-looped notes and weird effects.” Overnight, The Paupers had become big fish in a small pond. The more lucrative American market beckoned.

Notice in Billboard, March 25, 1967

Candid live shot of Denny Gerrard on bass and Chuck Beal on tambourine.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Segment.

Canadian Teen, courtesy of Ivan Amirault
Fortunately, the band didn’t have long to wait for such an opportunity. Opening for The Lovin’ Spoonful at Maple Leaf Gardens on 11 December, Finkelstein ran in to Harvey Glatt, promoter and owner of Ottawa’s Le Hibou coffeehouse, who suggested that he should approach MGM Records in New York.

Armed with a four-song demo, Finkelstein flew to the Big Apple early in the new year and to his surprise, MGM agreed to sign the band to its subsidiary, Verve Forecast; a first for a Canadian band. Buoyed by the response, Finkelstein headed over to Greenwich Village and looked up Howard Soloman, the owner of the Café Au Go Go, who offered the band a gig opening for Jefferson Airplane in early March. Finkelstein accepted the booking and headed back to Toronto where The Paupers were riding high with “If I Call You By Some Name”, the group’s debut single with Mitchell. Having peaked at #6 on the CHUM chart on 16 January, the single eventually sold around 35,000 copies.

The stage was set for the group’s debut US appearance at the Café Au Go Go. As those witnessing concur, from the opening bars of “Think I Care”, The Paupers were in their element. By the time they were done, the place was theirs, and critics were not slow in showering the band with praise. Writing in the Village Voice, Richard Goldstein exclaimed: “They have a power and a discipline I’ve never seen before in a performance.”

Following the show, Albert Grossman came back stage to visit the band. As Prokop told The Canadian, “We saw this cat with long, white hair down to his shoulders and Ben Franklin glasses and we didn’t know who he was. About four days later, he approached Bernie and we had a meeting and signed contracts.”

Finkelstein, who had been made a lucrative offer to co-manage the band, subsequently sold his rights to the group for $20,000 and used the money to set up his next project, the experimental folk-rock outfit, Kensington Market. One of Grossman’s first moves as manager meanwhile was to renegotiate the group’s contract with Verve Forecast, which allegedly had been signed for no front money!

Following the success of the New York show, The Paupers released a new single, the bluesy “Simple Deed”, and while it didn’t quite sell as much as its predecessor, still managed to climb to a respectable #23 on the CHUM chart on 27 March.

The group then returned to New York to cut its debut album with producer Rick Shorter. During this time, band members also found time to moonlight on other projects, most notably on Peter, Paul and Mary single “I Dig Rock And Roll”.

With the album in the can, The Paupers flew to San Francisco in early May to play three sets of shows at the Fillmore Auditorium. Opening twice for local acidheads, The Grateful Dead and concluding with a support slot for soul sisters, Martha & The Vandellas, The Paupers’ breezy folk-rock and sunny melodies went over well with the San Francisco audiences.

That same month, Verve Forecast issued a new single, “One Rainy Day”, which apparently sold so poorly that the group pulled it out of the marketplace themselves. Despite the chart failure, the positive reception to the band’s live shows on the West Coast bode well for the up and coming Monterey festival and anticipation was running high.

“While in California we learned ahead of time that we were to play a fairly short set at the festival,” remembers Beal. “So, we decided to put together a non stop medley of several cuts from our first album, ending with Denny’s bass solo. We got it together and at the sound check everything went well. Actually, several of the promoters and musicians took the time to complement us on our arrangement and performance.”

Introduced by Byrds guitarist David Crosby, who hyped the band to the 30,000-strong crowd, The Paupers duly took to the stage on the evening of 16 June, and immediately ran into problems. According to some sources, Gerrard had dropped some acid before the show, which may account for why his bass playing seemed out of sync with the rest of the group. Technical problems also afflicted the group as Beal’s amp crackled on and off. Ralph Gleason, who had championed Gerrard in Playboy earlier in the year, later said that the band was one of the festival’s real disappointments.

Beal has his own take on events. “The tightness of the band was not only one of our strong points, but turned out to be our undoing at Monterey,” he explains. “That night when things went wrong, rather than stop playing, regroup and chat with the audience till things got fixed, we just damned the torpedoes and kept going full speed ahead. As a result, we wound up sinking our own ship. That performance at Monterey, although we didn’t realise it at the time, was the beginning of the end.”

Despite the setback, The Paupers’ live shows continued to attract positive reviews. Writing about a gig at West Hollywood’s Whisky-A-Go-Go in July, journalist Bill Kerby reported in the L.A Free Press: “It is joyfully unnerving to see a group bound together by other than mutual regard for dope, stardom, pedestrian ideas of musical mediocrity, and vague dreams of overnight billions.”

Following Monterey, the group had been sent on a $40,000 promotional tour covering 40 cities, and taking in venues like the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, the Boston Tea Party and the Café Au Go Go in New York. At the last venue in late September, it was the turn of The Paupers to be upstaged, on this occasion by visiting British dignitaries Cream.

Despite the tight touring schedule, The Paupers still found time to “live it up” on the road. Speaking to Ritchie Yorke, Prokop remembers one particularly memorable incident in Las Vegas. “Denny Gerrard made $3,500 on the poker machines, but the next day he lost it all, and his shirt as well. Really, he arrived back at the hotel one morning with no shirt on.” Apparently, the bass player had walked two miles from a casino because he’d lost all his money!

L.A. Times, July 1967

Notice in Billboard, August 19, 1967

Left to right: Skip, Adam, Chuck and Denny
Grossman meanwhile was beginning to lose patience – the band was spending a huge amount of money on the road but had no hit records to justify the expenditure. According to the band’s drummer, Grossman seriously considered dropping The Paupers at one stage, but was persuaded to give the band a second chance. Faced with mounting debts, the group went on a money-saving spree, travelling to gigs in Prokop’s station wagon.

If the group’s declining fortunes weren’t enough to worry about, Gerrard’s behaviour was becoming increasingly more erratic as his consumption of psychedelic drugs reached crisis point.

Adam Mitchell remembers a number of amusing incidents during this period, including a rehearsal at the Night Owl club on Avenue Road in Toronto. “We had just been given the first cordless remote for guitar and we had Denny try it on his bass. In the interest of seeing how far away from the amp you could get and still have signal strength, we had Denny walk to the front of the club and then eventually outside. After he’d been outside a while, the signal faded as expected. So did Denny! We went outside and of course there was no sign of him anywhere. We abandoned the rehearsal and spread out in different directions looking for him. As I was heading south on Avenue Road, a rather perplexed fan approached me. ‘Man…I just saw Denny walking down the street playing his bass!’ Never did find him that day or several days after. Such was life with Denny.”

Another incident took place following the group’s performance at the Trauma club in Philadelphia. “Denny never made the plane,” remembers Mitchell. “Several days later I got a call at my place on Hazelton Avenue in Yorkville. ‘Adam, it’s Denny…where am I?’ After having him look out the window and read a few licence plates, we determined he was probably still in Philadelphia. How or when he eventually made it back to Toronto, I don’t remember.”

The Trauma gig also has an interesting side note, says Mitchell. “Two young kids brought a Les Paul for me to autograph, then ran beside the car practically all the way back to the hotel, where they permanently encamped in the lobby. Fast forward to 1988 – Gene Simmons, his girlfriend Shannon Tweed and I had been out for dinner in LA and had to stop off at a film distributors’ conference on the way home so that Shannon could make an appearance. As we entered the room, some guy started yelling, ‘Adam, Adam!’ I had no idea who he was until he introduced himself and told me he was one of those two young kids in Philadelphia. His name was Frank Stallone. The other kid was his brother, Sylvester Stallone.”

By early 1968, the group had lost patience with Gerrard’s behaviour and reluctantly asked him to leave. However, as Beal admitted to Nicholas Jennings, the group was a lesser force without their inspired bass player. “Denny did for the bass what Hendrix was doing for the guitar. Nobody had seen anything like this.” Mitchell agrees. “He was absolutely brilliant as a player. His bass solo, I believe was the most electrifying thing in music I’ve ever seen.”

Teenset, December 1967

click for larger image

Brad Campbell (far left) joins The Paupers.
Gerrard’s replacement, Brad Campbell, was recruited from local band, The Last Words, who interestingly had recently appeared on the same bill as The Paupers at York University on 12 January. (The show, incidentally, also featured The Magic Circus, who also contained a number of future Paupers members). The Last Words had released three singles between late 1965 and early 1967, but only one, “I Symbolise You” issued on Columbia, had seriously troubled the charts, and no doubt Campbell was delighted to be offered the job. At the same time, The Paupers expanded the line-up by bringing in keyboard player Peter Sterbach, formerly a member of The BTB 4 (Big Town Boys 4).

Amid all this activity, the band’s debut album Magic People, which had been released back in June just prior to the Monterey festival, had slowly crept up the Billboard charts and finally peaked at a rather disappointing #178. Despite the poor placing, the album has some strong moments, most notably in its kaleidoscopic drum-driving title track. Other highlights include the infectious folk-rocker “You and Me”, the haunting “My Love Hides Your View” and the angst-ridden “Think I Care”, generally considered to be The Paupers’ definitive song. The track was lifted as a single in early 1968, but flopped.

While The Paupers failed to make any headway in the charts, they continued to live up to their reputation as a live act. On 24 February, the group returned to Toronto and played a memorable set at the Canadian National Exhibition supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Soft Machine.

Nevertheless, the pressures of travelling on a tight budget were beginning to take its toll, with each man reduced to living off $2. First to crack was newcomer Peter Sterbach who dropped out sometime in early 1968. Skip Prokop, who also entertained thoughts of leaving the band during this period, apparently changed his mind when the label agreed to do a second album.

Taking time off the road, the group stopped in Nashville to record three tracks – “All About Me”, “Words I Say” and “See Yourself” but according to Beal the sessions did not go well and the recordings were shelved. Despite the failure to complete any tracks towards a new album, Beal says the Nashville trip did have its perks. “For me the highlights included meeting Tex Ritter, listening to Flatt and Scruggs record, watching one of the Jordinaires get so rapped up in a game of ping pong, he forgot that he left his car with the engine running and it ran out of gas, and above all having Floyd Cramer play on our session. It was nuts, we just called his answering service and within 15 minutes, he was there.”

Travelling to New York in early May, the group’s new producer Elliot Mazer hooked The Paupers up with keyboard player Al Kooper, who had recently been ousted from his group, Blood, Sweat & Tears. Turning his creative energies to The Paupers, Kooper’s contributions complement the group’s performances brilliantly and the resulting album, Ellis Island, recorded at Columbia Studios over several months, remains a hidden gem of late ’60s rock.

Lacking the consistency of the group’s debut outing, the record’s strength lies in its individual tracks. These range from extended hard-rock workouts like “South Down Road” and “Numbers” (featuring Brad Campbell on lead vocal), to more reflective pieces such as Prokop’s “Oh That She Might”, with a rare vocal outing from the drummer. Adam Mitchell emerges as the dominant writing force and his “Cairo Hotel”, apparently written about a hotel in Washington DC where most of the tenants were down and outs, is particularly poignant.

Another noticeable difference on the album, compared to his predecessor, is the group’s experimentation with exotic sounds – one particular track, “Ask Her Again”, features Prokop on the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument (a present given to the drummer by Peter, Paul & Mary after a Japanese tour).

Brad Campbell with The Last Words (back right)

The Paupers, late 1968. Left to right: Chuck Beal, Denny Gerrard, Adam Mitchell, Roz Parks and John Ord. Photo courtesy of Jonn Ord.
With the album in the can, the band realised that it needed to reproduce Kooper’s keyboard parts in a live format, and duly recruited former Fraser Loveman Group member Jonn (aka John) Ord (b. 3 April 1945, London, England) during late July. As Ord recalls, “I had a little trio called The Nuclear Tricycle that was playing in a bar on Yonge Street. It was a summer job for me and I was at university. Skip heard about me and came in to see me. I went out to Brad Campbell’s house in Oakville to meet the band and they played me the album. I was able to play off the keyboard parts pretty fast and they thought it would be a good fit.”

The quintet quickly reconvened to Ord’s parents’ farm in Fenwick, in the Niagara peninsula. Rehearsing intensively for a week in a nearby farmhouse, the new Paupers line-up soon launched in to a small tour. The band’s debut show at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit on 2-4 August proved memorable, not least because the club still had bullet holes in it from the race riots earlier in the year.

During this period, some of the band members flew to New York between dates to do studio work. Ord, who was involved in the session work alongside Campbell and Prokop remembers working with Richie Havens on his album Richard P Havens, 1983, and also providing support for a female singer called Leonda. The sessions, as Ord points out, appear to have soured relations between band members and ultimately may have sown the seeds that led to the group’s collapse the following month. “I found out that the band was in a state of conflict and frustration, perhaps partially because some musicians were recording and the others were stuck on the road. In the end, the band broke up and everyone went home to Toronto.”

Things had come to ahead when Prokop announced his decision to leave the band after The Paupers’ engagement at the Electric Circus in New York, which ran from 29 August to 1 September. Although he would subsequently form his own outfit, the big band Lighthouse, Prokop nearly joined Janis Joplin’s new group, soon to become better known as The Kozmic Blues Band, but declined her offer.

The offer had been made during the Richie Havens sessions as Ord recalls. “Janis dropped into the sessions and we had some jams with her. Our mutual manager Albert Grossman was looking for musicians for her new band from among his own musicians. Harvey Brooks from The Electric Flag came in with her at one point and he was also looking for musicians for her.”

Prokop confirms that a number of tracks, including a version of “Hey Joe”, and some Aretha Franklin covers were recorded in the studio with Joplin and have yet to see the light of day. Joplin’s insistence on retaining Sam Andrews from Big Brother & The Holding Company for her new band project however, ultimately led Prokop to back out. Following an appearance on Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield’s Live Adventures album and supporting Mama Cass at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Prokop pieced together Lighthouse.

Brad Campbell meanwhile landed on his feet. After briefly gigging with the Pozo Seco Singers, he took up the offer from Janis Joplin. He would remain with the troubled singer until her untimely death, appearing in both The Kozmic Blues Band, and its successor, the Canadian-dominated Full Tilt Boogie Band. According to Pete Frame, he would often work under the pseudonym Keith Cherry. Campbell currently lives in Milton, Ontario and plays with a reformed Last Words.

With Prokop and Campbell out of the picture but with debts of $40,000, the remaining members decided to carry on. “I recall advocating that we reform The Paupers in Toronto as the band was well known and we could probably do well with a change of members,” says Ord. The Paupers quickly recruited local drummer Roz Parks (b. 15 April 1945, Picton, Ontario) from The Creeps and Magic Circus fame and perhaps more importantly, in terms of credibility, brought original bass player Denny Gerrard back in to the fold. Though Gerrard had spent most of 1968 recovering from his drug exploits, he had recently returned to studio and live work with Toronto’s highly rated blues combo, McKenna Mendelson and was in fighting form.

The group soon returned to the local club scene, debuting at the Night Owl on 26-27 October. Journalist Ritchie Yorke writing that November in the local RPM magazine, reviewed the show and captured perfectly the new line-up’s potential. “They emerged as a tight, cohesive musical unit, devoid of pseudo-hippiness and brimming over with confidence.”

True the group may have found a new confidence, but this was soon shattered by Gerrard’s inability to keep on the straight and narrow. As Ord recalls, “we did well for a while getting quite a bit of work and playing a lot. Then Denny started to lose it again…missing rehearsals and eventually not showing up for an important concert. The other band members said they had been through this already and that nothing worked. Roz and I were very fond of Denny and tried everything to make things work, but in the end we had to fire him and found a new bass player.”

As Jonn Ord notes, Gerrard’s departure proved a catalyst for Mitchell’s own exit from the group in April 1969. “Adam became discouraged and decided to leave also, so we replaced him with James Houston who had worked with Roz in The Magic Circus.”

Adam Mitchell subsequently embarked on a brief solo career, before moving into production work for the likes of McKenna Mendelson Mainline and McKendree Spring (who covered his song “Cairo Hotel”). In 1970, he became Linda Ronstadt’s musical director, the fruits of which turned up on Silk Purse. Mitchell also emerged as a successful songwriter, and during the ‘70s and ‘80s saw his compositions covered by John Waite, Olivia Newton-John, Art Garfunkel and Kiss to name a few. A long-awaited solo album, Red Head In Trouble, finally appeared in 1979. Mitchell currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and Santa Monica, California and continues to produce, write and perform in the US and Canada.

The Paupers ploughed on with new members James Houston (b. 25 May 1946, Belfast, Northern Ireland) and Mel O’Brien (who had previously played with The Proverbs, The Five D and The Five Shy) but, despite some notable shows at the Night Owl during August 1969, soon ran out of steam as Beal recalls.

“James was a member of The Creeps and a friend of Roz Parks. He was a pretty good singer/songwriter… The bass player was Mel O’Brien [who] was really talented but a bit of a loose canon. We did a bunch of local dates with Mel but it was clear that the band was going nowhere real fast. We knew we needed a record deal and booked some time into the RCA studios in Toronto to do some demos of Jaime’s tunes. Mel didn’t show up for the session and that was it for him. After that none of us had the energy or the desire to start over again so, we packed it in. A sorry end to what was once a pretty good band.”

From the ashes of the group, James Houston (who now goes by the name John Peel) formed his own group, Houston, which issued a lone single “Sally Bumper” and eponymous album for Tuesday Records during 1970.

Jonn Ord, whose band backed Chuck Berry at Toronto’s Electric Circus in the summer of 1969, later acquired a music degree from York University and currently plays in Ontario’s Georgian Bay area.

Roz Parks meanwhile worked with Edward Bear and Tranquillity Base (where he was joined by Houston) among others before changing his name to Ron. A few years ago, he issued his debut solo album Golden Rocket.

While The Paupers’ potential was never fully realised, the degree of talent within the band can be gleaned from the band’s best work, and the subsequent achievements of group’s members, Brad Campbell, Adam Mitchell and Skip Prokop.

Following a successful career with Lighthouse, Prokop leant his talents to a diverse range of projects, including working with street kids, running an advertising agency and doing jingles. Like Mitchell, he also issued a solo album, All Growed Up, in 1979 and in recent years has played in a reformed Lighthouse. Living in London, Ontario, he is currently writing his autobiography.

Denny Gerrard continued to make sporadic appearances on record throughout the late ‘60s and ’70s, most notably on Jericho’s superb eponymous album for Bearsville Records in 1971, and in his work with Rick James’s pre-Motown bands, Heaven and Earth and Great White Cane. Still revered by his contemporaries, Gerrard remains a local legend. In 1997, after years of inactivity, he made a rare appearance on record, playing with Mike McKenna’s blues band Slidewinder.

Chuck Beal briefly worked as a music producer, promoter and manager for Canadian bands. Later he worked at the Canadian National Institute For The Blind, producing the talking books series and also did some writing and research for CBC radio in Toronto. He is currently a computer consultant and has his own website.

Looking back, Mitchell is philosophical about the band’s premature demise. “As incredible as the band truly was, we were victims of just plain bad luck,” he says. “Bad luck, not only that Denny did too many drugs at Monterey and Chuck had a bad guitar chord. But perhaps more importantly, bad luck that we had the wrong record producer, the wrong studio and the wrong label. We were young, the business was new and we didn’t know any better.”

Magic People and Ellis Island are now available for the first time on CD from Pacemaker Records. Each release includes bonus tracks.

Advertised gigs

April 25 1965 – Maple Leaf Gardens with Rolling Stones, Jon and Lee & The Checkmates and others
July 29 1965 – “Red Cross Blood Donor Clinic”, Varsity Arena, Toronto with Jon and Lee & The Checkmates, The Big Town Boys and J B & The Playboys
August 26 1965 – Canadian National Exhibition, under 21 club, Toronto with David Clayton-Thomas & The Shays
December 3-4 1965 – El Patio, Toronto
December 11 1965 – Gogue Inn, Toronto
January 28 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with Dunc & The Deacons, The Lively Set with Dean Curtis
February 4 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
February 18 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with Jack Hardin & The Silhouettes and The Lively Set
February 24-25 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
March 11 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto (March 24 advert for new singer)
April 1 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with The Twilights and Dean Curtis & The Lively Set
April 8-9 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
April 15-16 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
April 22 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto
June 10 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto
June 20-25 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
July 7-10 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
July 10 1966 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
July 19 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto with The Shays and Dee & The Yeomen
July 24 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
August 14 1966 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario with Little Caesar & The Consults and The Knaves
August 24 1966 – Don Mills Curling, Don Mills, Ontario with The Spasstiks, The Del-Tones and The Fugitives
August 31 1966 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario with The Marksmen
September 9 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
September 24 1966 – Maple Leaf Gardens with Luke & The Apostles, The Ugly Ducklings, The Tripp, The Last Words, Bobby Kris & The Imperials, The Stitch In Tyme, The Spasstiks, R K & The Associates, Little Caesar & The Consuls, The Big Town Boys and others
October 2 1966 – Club Kingsway, Toronto with Wilson Pickett and Dee & Lee & The Roulettes
October 10-14 1966 – The Night Owl, Toronto
October 15 1966 – Club 888, Toronto with A Passing Fancy
October 27 1966 – The Night Owl, Toronto
October 29-30 1966 – The Night Owl, Toronto
November 5 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with Associates, The Wyldfyre and others
November 11 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
November 12 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
November 18-20 1966 – Red Gas Room, Toronto
November 27 1966 – Red Gas Room, Toronto
December 3-4 1966 – Red Gas Room, Toronto
December 10 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto with Dee & The Yeomen, The Manx, The Evil
December 11 1966 – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Children
December 23 1966- Club 888 Toronto
December 24-27 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with Luke & The Apostles
December 29-1 January 1967 – Boris’, Toronto with Luke & The Apostles
January 22 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto
February 10 1967 – West Hill Collegiate, Toronto
February 12 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto with Luke & The Apostles
February 21-March 5 – Café Au Go Go, New York with Jefferson Airplane and Richie Havens (replaced by B B King)
March 11 1967 – Boris’, Toronto with Simon Caine & The Catch (next two may not have happened)
March 12 1967 – Boris’, Toronto with The Ugly Ducklings
March 17 1967 – Wexford Collegiate, Scarborough, Ontario
March 18 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto
April 28-30 1967-Cafe A Go Go, NY
May 5-6 1967 – Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco with Grateful Dead
May 12-14 1967 – Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco with Grateful Dead
May 19-20 1967 – Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco with Martha & The Vandellas
June 16 1967 – Monterey International Pop Festival, Monterey, California
July 14 1967 – Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood with The Youngbloods
July 14-19 1967– Whisky Au Go-Go Los Angeles
July 1967 – Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood with Johnny Rivers.
July 28-29 1967 – Boston Tea Party, Boston with Bagatelle
August 1967 – MGM sends them on a 9 city tour of parties for press and deejays starting in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit.
August 20-26 1967 – Garden of Stars, Montreal with The Munks
August 30 – September 3 1967 – Ambassador Theater, Washington, DC
September 15-17 1967 – The Flick, Toronto
September 18 1967 – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
September 28-October 1 1967 – Café Au Go Go, New York with Cream (cut short due to faulty equipment)
October 20 1967 – Hunter’s College, New York with Jefferson Airplane
November 3-5 1967 – Grande Ballroom, Detroit with MC5
December 8 1967 – Aurora Community Arena, Aurora, Ontario
December 27-30 1967 – The Flick, Toronto
January 12 1968 – York University, Toronto with The Last Words and The Magic Circus
January 27 1968 – North Toronto Memorial Hall, Toronto
February 24 1968 – CNE Coliseum, Toronto with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Soft Machine
February 29-March 3 1968 – The Flick, Toronto
March 12-24 1968 – Electric Circus, New York
April 1968 – Ottawa Coliseum with Colleen Peterson, The Eye of Dawn and The Five D
April 2-4 1968 – Kinetic Playground, Chicago
April 17 1968 – Westbury Music Fair, Westbury, New York with Neil Diamond and The Lemon Pipers
May 21-22 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto
June 15 1968 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario with The Dynamics
June 29-30 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto with The Rockshow of The Yeomen
August 2-4 1968 – Grande Ballroom, Detroit
August 29-September 1 1968 – Electric Circus, New York
October 26-27 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto with The Rockshow of The Yeomen
October 30 – November 3 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto with The Rockshow of The Yeomen
November 9-10 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto
November 16-17 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto
November 23 1968 – Neil McNeil’s High School, Toronto
December 26-27 1968 – El Patio, Toronto
December 29 1968 – January 1 1969 – El Patio, Toronto
June 29 1969 – The Cove, Gravenshurst, Ontario with The Night People
July 2 1969 – Kingsmen Centre, Oshawa, Ontario
August 7-8 1969 – The Night Owl, Toronto
August 11-15 1969 – The Night Owl, Toronto

Many thanks to Skip Prokop, Adam Mitchell, Chuck Beal, Jonn Ord, Denny Gerrard, Ron Parks, James Houston, Brad Campbell, Bill Munson, Stan Endersby, Nicholas Jennings, Martin Melhuish, Joey Cee, Ritchie Yorke, Peter Goddard and Philip Kamin, Carny Corbett, Bev Davies and Mike Paxman. The Toronto Telegram’s After Four section on Thursdays has also been really handy as a resource for live dates. Thanks to Marc Skobac for additional dates, and to Ivan Amirault for scans from RPM magazine.

Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2003. Updated 2009. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.



RPM, January 31, 1966

Verve-Folkways promotional photo, reproduced in
RPM Starline Photo Album, November 21, 1966

RPM, December 7, 1966

RPM, March 25, 1967

RPM, October 2, 1967

3’s a Crowd

1967, l-r: Trevor Veitch, David Wiffen, Brent Titcomb, Donna Warner, Richard Patterson and Ken Koblun
The vibrant music scene that existed in Canada during the ‘60s has rarely been given the exposure it merits. Undoubtedly, the Canadian music industry must shoulder much of the blame. Not only did it actively discourage the flowering of homegrown acts, but the fact that American-based, Canadian artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band have proven they are the equal of their American and British contemporaries, underlines what can be achieved with industry support. For those who chose not to base themselves in the US, the prospect of international acclaim was slight, which may explain why the folk-rock outfit 3’s a Crowd have remained an obscurity outside Canada.The original 3’s a Crowd line-up was formed in Vancouver in the summer of 1964, when folk singer, guitarist and comedian Brent Titcomb (b. 10 August 1940, Vancouver, British Columbia) joined forces with singer Donna Warner (b. 23 May 1946, Edmonton, Alberta).

Of the two, Titcomb had the more established career, having spent the best part of the early ‘60s frequenting the city’s folk clubs, where he combined traditional folk songs with a comedy routine. (On several occasions he would book himself at two clubs on the same night; after performing as a folk singer at the first, he would then drive to the next to perform as a comedian, often under the names “Uncle Roy Plain” and “Dr Mezner”.)

Titcomb’s stage act soon attracted the attention of performer Oscar Brand, and in early 1964 he was invited to perform at the world famous Calgary Stampede, which is where he befriended Donna Warner, currently singing with The Kopala Trio. Warner’s musical accomplishments were somewhat different to Titcomb’s, having spent much of her youth singing in a number of choirs in her native Edmonton. (Her grandfather incidentally, had been a choirmaster in Glasgow.) The pair nevertheless, had a lot in common (a mutual love of folk music and a “very quirky sense of humour”) and made arrangements to meet up in Vancouver once Warner had finished high school that summer.

The Calgary gathering proved to be notable in more ways than one, however. During a visit to the city’s premier folk den, the Depression, Titcomb and Warner were introduced to singer/songwriter David Wiffen (b. 11 March 1942, Sydenham, Kent, England), who would feature prominently in 3’s a Crowd’s story in later years. A love of folk music again provided a common bond but their paths ultimately diverged as Titcomb and Warner duly headed west to Vancouver.

Once there, the pair quickly became regulars at Les Stork’s Bunkhouse, a coffeehouse where Warner worked as a waitress and performed on “open mike” nights with Titcomb. On a number of occasions, guitarist Trevor Veitch (b. 19 May 1946, Vancouver, British Columbia) joined in, and his proficiency on the instrument so impressed them that the three of them decided to form a group. They also took part in after-hours get-togethers with local and visiting musicians in what were essentially “kitchen jams”.

The newly established trio quickly set about grooming their act, which mixed comic routines with the folk songs of the day. Around January of the following year, the group officially debuted at the Bunkhouse coffeehouse under the oddly titled moniker, The Bill Schwartz Quartet. Apparently the name was Titcomb’s idea – the group apologised all weekend for Bill’s absence until the very last song of the last set on the last night when Titcomb’s high school buddy “King Anderson” showed up on stage wearing an eye patch and joined in on harmonica.

Understandably the club owners were not amused, after all they had been led to believe that a quartet would be playing and had paid for one accordingly. A new name was deemed necessary, and on hearing the group’s conversation, Anderson pitched in: “Two’s company and three’s a crowd.” The band adopted the name immediately.

The first reference to the trio’s new name appears to have been in June 1965, when the group was pictured on the front of the local TV Times. The band’s sudden rise to fame was no doubt due to a series of shows at the Ark two months earlier, where it had performed with local jazz double bass player Danny Schultz. (The group’s performance caused quite a stir and was impressive enough in fact for the organisers to record some of the shows.)

The next logical step was to move lock, stock and barrel to Toronto, the epicentre of the Canadian music scene, and in a propitious move, the group sent a demo tape to Sid Dolgay, formerly a member of Canada’s premier folk group The Travellers. Dolgay had recently formed his own management company, Universal Performing Artists (UPA), and was on the lookout for new talent. Suitably impressed by the group’s tape, he invited them to Toronto to perform some engagements and shortly afterwards signed the trio.

Although they didn’t know it at the time, Toronto would become 3’s a Crowd’s home for the next three years. While there the group would become a regular fixture at the city’s renowned Riverboat club and a popular live attraction on the folk circuit.

The best part of late 1965/early 1966 was spent touring the length and breadth of the country, largely as a trio (the group could rarely afford the luxury to pay supporting musicians). Nevertheless on a few occasions, former Bad Seeds bass player Brian Ahern (later Emmylou Harris’s producer and second husband) joined the band to add a little muscle.

By the spring of 1966, however, 3’s a Crowd’s following was such that a full-time bass player was a distinct possibility. The scene was changing too, and the impact of The Byrds and Bob Dylan’s new brand of “electric folk” couldn’t be ignored.

Consequently, the group enlisted the services of bass player Kenny Koblun (b. 7 May 1946, Winnipeg, Manitoba) during early March. A former member of Neil Young’s high school band The Squires (and later Four To Go), Koblun would prove to be a transient musician in the 3’s a Crowd story. His various comings and goings were marked by personal problems, and in many ways his relationship with the band was not that dissimilar to his contemporary in Buffalo Springfield, Bruce Palmer.

The Buffalo Springfield in fact provided a useful link. Koblun’s relationship with that band would remain close, and within a month of joining 3’s a Crowd, he was tempted away by an offer to join Stephen Stills and Richie Furay in an embryonic version of that band. (Koblun and Young had befriended Stills the previous year, when Stills’s group The Company shared the bill with The Squires.)

As Koblun told rock historian John Einarson: “Stills called me and told me that I should come down to California to join his band.” Which is what Koblun did, but the arrangement proved to be brief: “I spent a week with Stills and Furay but nothing was happening. I had to make a decision. I had twenty dollars in my pocket. Either spend it on food and stay with Stills in California, or spend it on a taxi fare to LA airport and the manager from 3’s a Crowd was going to pay for my ticket back to Toronto. So that was what I did.” (Unknown to everyone concerned, Young and Palmer were on their way to LA to meet up with Stills and Furay as Koblun was on his way out.)

Back with 3’s a Crowd, Koblun lasted long enough to appear with the group for a taping of the highly-rated TV programme The Juliette Show, before dropping out after an engagement at the Raven’s Gallery in Detroit in mid-April.

In his place the group enlisted bass player Comrie Smith (b. 29 September 1945, Toronto, Ontario), who ironically also shared a Neil Young connection. Smith and Young had in fact been high school friends at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto from 1959-1961.

When The Squires relocated to Toronto in mid-1965, they spent a brief period playing together and made some rough demos of Young’s songs in Smith’s attic. After Young moved on, Smith took some of his songs to Arc Records but nothing came of it at the time. However, some of these songs, including “Casting Me Away From You”, “Hello Lonely Woman” and “There Goes My Babe” have finally surfaced on the first installment of Neil Young’s Archives series.

Smith’s enlistment brought stability to 3’s a Crowd and in the latter half of 1966 the band was awarded its first Juno (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) for best folk group of the year, a distinction it would also enjoy the following year.

The Juno award undoubtedly raised the group’s profile and in September of that year 3’s a Crowd won a short-term deal with Epic Records in New York. Initially, the label promised to record four singles but in the event only one was completed at the first session with Toronto producer Ben McPeek and New Yorker Bob Morgan. Drums, bass and a horn section were added later to fill out the sound.

The result was the catchy folk-rocker “Bound To Fly” written by black American songwriter Len Chandler, coupled with a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Steel Rail Blues”. The single was given a Canadian release on 24 October, and (according to Billboardin January 1967) was even issued in Britain, making it the band’s sole UK outing and a rarity at that. (The single finally peaked at #34 on the Canadian RPM chart and proved to be the group’s biggest hit.)By the time the single appeared Koblun was back in the fold, having played with American singer Carolyn Hester in the interim. His second stint, however, barely lasted out the year. On this occasion it was a desperate call from his old friend Neil Young, which led to his third departure in less than a year.

In early January, while Buffalo Springfield were performing in New York, Canadian Bruce Palmer had been arrested on marijuana charges and summarily deported. The others headed back to LA but with tour dates to honour, an immediate replacement was required. Young naturally suggested his former cohort – and it certainly helped that Koblun was familiar with Stills and Furay. It seemed a perfect arrangement and yet perhaps predictably, Koblun’s tenure with the group proved to be short-lived. While Koblun was under the impression that he was joining the band, the others merely thought he was “filling in”, until Palmer sorted out his problems and returned. After only three weeks, Koblun was asked to leave and returned somewhat despondently to Toronto.

3’s a Crowd meanwhile, re-enlisted Comrie Smith, who appears to have acted as a sort of “all-utility man” for whenever Koblun was absent. Amid all this activity, the band returned to New York to record a follow-up single with A&R man Ted Cooper. The result, the comedy single “Honey Machine” c/w “When The Sun Goes Down”, was quickly disowned by the trio, who fell out with Epic over the label’s marketing of the band. (The label saw the group as a sort of novelty/comedy act, which was not the image the trio wanted to project.) In the end, 3’s a Crowd severed their ties with Epic and the single thankfully died a quick death.

Back in Canada, 3’s a Crowd resumed gigging and at Ottawa’s Le Hibou coffeehouse (most likely for shows between 28 March-2 April) reunited with David Wiffen, who was singing in a local group called The Children.

His next move was to join a local beat group called The Pacers, who were soon offered a recording deal in Montreal. Trekking east, the group soon discovered that the promise of a deal had been a smokescreen; the company merely looking for an excuse to milk the group for all its worth. Wiffen and the others were subsequently obliged to slog it out on the local club scene, which at the time was very exhausting (8pm-3am, seven nights a week!). A lone single on RCA Victor – “I Want You Back” c/w “Windjammer”, turned up in late 1965 but it’s not clear whether Wiffen appears on it.

The others soon lost heart and returned home, while Wiffen moved to Ottawa, after hearing about the folk scene based around the Le Hibou coffeehouse. Before long he was invited to join the city’s premier folk-rock group, The Children, which at that time featured aspiring singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn (b. 25 May 1945, Ottawa, Ontario) and drummer Richard Patterson (b. 20 September 1944, Ottawa, Ontario), both of whom would feature greatly throughout his career. Wiffen and Patterson struck up a rapport and when 3’s a Crowd enquired about Wiffen’s services, he was keen to champion Patterson as a drummer.

His erstwhile colleague’s background was also distinguished. During the early ‘60s Patterson had played in Canada’s answer to Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Esquires, who incidentally were one of Neil Young’s favourite groups. The Esquires had cut a number of singles for EMI/Capitol Records during the early to mid-‘60s. The Esquires had also produced Canada’s first professional music video and been voted Top Pop Vocal & Instrumental Group of 1964.

The addition of Wiffen and Patterson in April 1967 was to all intents, the turning point in the band’s career. Patterson’s solid drumming strengthened the group’s overall sound, while Wiffen’s attractive baritone (not dissimilar to Fred Neil’s), provided an interesting counterpoint to Warner’s voice and boosted the group’s overall appeal immeasurably. They also brought with them much of The Children’s material, which by the standards of the day was excellent.

With Wiffen and Patterson aboard, the “expanded” group made its debut on the popular afternoon show Take 30 where, according to Patterson, host Paul Soales spent most of the interview asking Wiffen and himself why they had joined an established act instead of forming a new band of their own.

The exposure generated by the show nonetheless helped 3’s a Crowd to break out of the Canadian market. An important engagement at Steve Paul’s prestigious New York club, the Scene from 15-21 May was quickly arranged, while the band also made regular visits to the Back Porch Club in Columbus, Ohio. Another important showcase from that period was the annual Mariposa Folk Festival (Canada’s answer to Newport), held at Innis Lake near Toronto on 11-13 August.

The festival, featuring the cream of Canada’s folk community, reached a watershed in its history that year; 1967 was not only the last year before the festival moved to its present location on Toronto Island, but was also the first to feature electric instruments. The inclusion of local groups 3’s a Crowd and Kensington Market reflected this growing acceptance of “electric folk”, and was an acknowledgement of the folk-rock scene emerging in Canada.

As important as Mariposa was, however, it would be eclipsed that summer by the world famous Expo Exhibition being staged in Montreal. 3’s a Crowd had been spotted performing at the Riverboat by one of the entertainment co-ordinators for the Ontario Pavilion and were subsequently allocated a slot at the Pavillion in late August and early September.

Prior to this, the group concluded a two-week engagement at the Le Hibou coffeehouse (27 July-6 August), after which Smith left to make way for a returning Ken Koblun, who no doubt was in a better frame of mind. In the intervening months since leaving Buffalo Springfield, Koblun had been playing with Elyse Wienberg’s O.D Bodkins and Company, but was eager to re-establish his position in his former group. For 3’s a Crowd, Montreal’s Expo ’67 was the premier event of the summer and the one that ultimately bagged the all-important record deal.

Click to see notes on back cover
Bruce Cockburn with The Flying Circus, November 1967
Bruce Cockburn, early 1968

3’s a Crowd at Mama Cass’s house, l-r: Richard, Ken, Trevor, Brent and David. Donna on the floor
In a fortuitous twist of fate, a friend in LA had asked Warner’s boyfriend (at that time one of the promoters of Toronto’s first mini outdoor music festival) to accompany Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty of The Mamas and the Papas on a visit to Expo. What’s more, he also asked him to make sure they had everything they desired. Warner’s man not only kept his word, but also ensured that Elliot and Doherty were escorted to the Pavilion as 3’s a Crowd took the stage.Though Doherty clearly enjoyed his old friend’s group, it was Elliot, who, according to Patterson “saw a possible career opportunity for herself as a producer” for 3’s a Crowd. Enthused by their performance, she contacted Jay Lasker, President of ABC Dunhill, to rave about her new find and Lasker asked for a demo tape to be forwarded to him immediately.

For the purposes of recording the demo, Harvey Glatt (who Patterson says “owned most of the publishing of the new songs the group was performing” and had managed The Esquires and The Children) hired out Bell Studios in New York in mid-September. He also commissioned his friend Rick Shorter (The Paupers’s debut album being among his credits) to produce the three songs. While in New York, the band continued to work showcase dates, before returning to play at the Canadian Pavilion Feature stage at Expo ‘67.

Then finally, after what seemed a lifetime, a call came through to Sid Dolgay that the group was expected in Los Angeles as soon as possible to sign a deal and begin recording. Abetted by David McLeod, previously the talent co-ordinator and liaison for the Ontario Pavilion, and now acting as the band’s road manager, 3’s a Crowd flew out to LA for a month’s work in mid-October.

For Patterson in particular the group’s arrival in LA brings back fond memories: “Dunhill sent a couple of limos direct to the plane’s staircase and a photographer covered the arrival for the record label. As a matter of fact part of the arrival was…a photo shoot where we had to parade up and down the staircase a couple of times, and cavort around the tarmac waving our hands to the then non-existent cheering fans.”

The group was then driven to a small but comfortable Beverly Hills hotel round the corner from Dunhill’s offices, which according to Patterson “had a wonderful in-house restaurant where we non-suntanned northerners could order a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for a mere fifty cents.”

Sessions began soon afterwards at Studio 3, Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard with engineer Chuck Britz assisting Elliot. However, as Patterson recalls, after a week in the studio, “Cass lost interest in the every day of it” and by end of the week, Dunhill staff producer Steve Barri (PF Sloan’s writing partner) was in charge. (When the album came out though Elliot was credited as co-producer, perhaps in recognition of the fact that she had discovered the band.)

The first week was also notable for the presence of top session drummer Hal Blaine, who was brought in, according to Patterson, to “size my talent up”. Patterson didn’t know it but in those days the majority of sessions with bands included the use of top studio drummers sitting in with the group. Patterson needn’t have worried though; Blaine was bowled over by his playing and offered the use of his equipment stored in the studio’s basement! As the sessions progressed, the band also found time to play a few local dates including a performance at the student union, UCLA on 20 October; a photo of which found its way onto the back cover of their album later in the year.

Photographs from 3’s a Crowd’s arrival at the airport plus a group visit to Western Costume Company were also slated for the album’s cover and inside collage. In the latter case the band spent a morning looking at various catalogues of photos in the company’s inventory before choosing their favourites. In the end, Veitch decided on a white set of tails once worn by Fred Astaire, while Warner picked one of Maid Marion’s dresses from a Robin Hood film. Titcomb’s choice was a First World War fighter pilot’s uniform. Koblun, on the other hand, dressed in an old policeman’s outfit, while Patterson chose a 1930s full-piece bathing outfit and Wiffen dressed as a New York Irish boxing coach! A final photo taken at Elliot’s house (with 3’s a Crowd decked out on her sofa) after a dinner party held for the band one evening was also picked out for use.

Back in Toronto, the band embarked on a frenzy of activity, the highlight of which, was a television special for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) called Our Kind Of Crowd. The show, aired from coast to coast, boosted the group’s credentials and also provided a platform for their chosen guests, comedian Richard Pryor and up and coming singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell; both relatively unknown at the time but soon destined for greater things.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said about 3’s a Crowd; although the TV show was clearly a great success and bode well for the future, the group’s career was about to grind to an unwelcomed halt.

Ironically, the recent success proved to be the group’s ultimate undoing. The pressures of touring were as Patterson concedes “taking its toll on both Donna and Kenny”, and following a stint at the Riverboat during December, Koblun quit for the fourth and final time, suffering from nervous exhaustion.

He subsequently returned to Winnipeg and enrolled on a computer course at the city’s university. In the early ‘70s he briefly ventured back into music, playing with a few local groups, before trading in his bass for a career in computers. He currently lives in San Francisco.

In his place 3’s a Crowd recruited bass player Wayne Davis (b. 28 April 1946, Toronto, Ontario) from R&B outfit Bobby Kris and The Imperials, and before that Just Us.

As Patterson reveals, however, Koblun was not the only member to succumb to the pressures on the road. Donna Warner also struggled to cope with the heavy workload and on a number of occasions was too ill to perform. During the group’s Expo stint the previous summer, Ottawa-based singer Colleen Peterson (b. 14 November 1950, Peterborough, Ontario) had ably covered for Warner and would continue to do so at intervals throughout early 1968. In this way Peterson’s role bore an uncanny resemblance to Comrie Smith’s earlier in the year.

Peterson, another of Harvey Glatt’s protégés was a respected singer on the folk circuit and in 1967 had won a Juno award for most promising new vocalist. More importantly, she was well acquainted with the band’s repertoire, having been closely associated with The Children. She was, as Patterson points out, “a natural choice”.

A rare Australian pressing!
3’s a Crowd spent most of early 1968 showcasing the album, which had yet to be given a Canadian release. The “expanded” group’s debut single, a cover of Bruce Cockburn’s catchy “Bird Without Wings” was issued in early February (and even gained an Australian release!). Its relative success (peaking at #61 on the RPM chart) coincided with a tour of Western Canada, featuring memorable dates at the Simon Fraser University on 28 February and the Retinal Circus in Vancouver from 1-2 March.The band then headed back to the US West Coast for a series of dates at the Ice House in Glendale from 5-17 March supported by folk singer couple Jim & Jean. Patterson remembers Neil Young showing up in his Austin Mini Cooper one afternoon, perhaps hoping to catch his old buddy Ken Koblun. Young subsequently invited the group to an informal jam at Stephen Stills’s girlfriend’s house in Topanga Canyon a few days later, and the events that followed were to become the stuff of legend.

As Patterson recalls the car (containing Jim & Jean, Titcomb, Warner and himself) was stopped by the police on route to the party and its occupants presented with a fait accompli; either reverse and go home or carry on and be arrested with the other party goes at the house. (The police had just raided the house and in the ensuing drama three members of the Buffalo Springfield and Eric Clapton had been arrested on suspected drug charges.) Patterson and company returned home, narrowly avoiding one of rock music’s most famous drug busts.

In retrospect the Topanga Canyon episode signaled the end of The Buffalo Springfield, and 3’s a Crowd’s career was about to take a similar path. Back in Canada, the group was joined by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for a memorable performance at Massey Hall, where the group debuted the album in its entirety with full orchestration, an act never to be repeated. However, Warner’s declining health could not be ignored and following some final dates at Toronto’s Friars Tavern in early May, she left the group just as the album Christopher’s Movie Matinee hit the shops.

The record, though far from being a long lost classic, is still a wonderful collection, which holds up surprisingly well today. The highlights include the sprightly folk-rockers “Drive You Away”, (penned by Wiffen), and “Bird Without Wings”, plus the melancholic ballad “Cotton Candy Man”, the latter also emanating from Bruce Cockburn, who contributed two other songs to the collection. The album’s real gem (as far as this listener is concerned), however, is the band’s haunting version of Bill Hawkins’s (of The Children) “Gnostic Serenade”, which shows how gifted a singer Wiffen is.

At the time, the record was largely ignored, although Billboard did run a brief review earlier in the year: “The music is good, alive and invigorating. It won’t take long for this group to make a solid dent on the best seller charts.”

3’s a Crowd in early 1969. Clockwise from front: Colleen, Dennis, Richard, Bruce and David.
And perhaps it would have had there been a group to support it, but as Patterson points out, when Warner left, Titcomb and Veitch lost interest in the band and were not prepared to put things on hold while she recuperated.But if Titcomb and Veitch were no longer in the picture, there were still commitments to be honoured; Sid Dolgay’s two investors in the group – Harvey Glatt and Toronto film producer Sid Banks were intent on pushing the band. (There was outstanding debt to be paid off and a recently issued album to promote.)

As a result a new version of the band was formed in Ottawa during the summer comprising David Wiffen and Richard Patterson alongside some old and familiar faces.

Former Children members Bruce Cockburn and Sandy Crawley (b. 7 December 1947, Ottawa, Ontario), the son of independent filmmaker Budge Crawley, who made the rock documentary Janis, were drafted in alongside Colleen Peterson.

The new group was completed with bass player Dennis Pendrith (b. 13 September 1949, Toronto, Ontario), who had been in Cockburn’s last band Olivus, and before that had played with Simon Caine & The Catch, Luke & The Apostles and the short-lived group Livingstone’s Journey.

In the midst of all these changes, RCA Victor belatedly released a second single from the album, a cover of Dino Valenti’s “Let’s Get Together” backed by “Drive You Away”, which stalled at #70 on the RPM charts.

The new line-up quickly returned to the road, spending the best part of the summer supporting The Turtles and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap on their Canadian dates.

During this period 3’s a Crowd found time to record a recent Bruce Cockburn composition “Electrocution of The Word”, and Glatt subsequently produced a video to accompany it, which ran at Ottawa’s Teen Pavilion as part of the Canada Exhibition.

Amid all this activity, 3’s a Crowd were hired by Sid Banks to provide the youth element to a new TV series that he had been commissioned to produce called One More Time, hosted by Broadway actor/singer Gilbert Price. Twenty-six episodes were recorded for the first series during the late summer and the band were asked to perform two/three songs per show. (The majority of the music on the show was Broadway hits and guest slots by a few other pop groups, but it was one way for Banks to recoup some of his investment in the band.)

The series was a reasonable success and was renewed for another season with a second batch of taping in the winter. Banks, however, felt that the group’s songs were, according to Patterson, “too alternative for the audience” and pitched the idea of “putting a pop arrangement to some of the top Broadway tunes”. 3’s a Crowd were understandably reticent about such an undertaking but in the end came up with some rather unusual renditions of songs such as “Mack The Knife”.

Review of Electrocution of the Word, inexplicably referred to as “Explosion of the Universe” in this review, Ottawa Journal, August 30, 1968.
After the TV series ended in early 1969, the band was offered a spring tour of the US college and university circuit. Crawley, who was more intent on pursuing an acting career opted out leaving the others to fulfil what essentially were 3’s a Crowd’s final dates.The last engagement at Columbia in South Carolina was a low-key affair and summed up the group’s career in a nutshell. They had never been a highly touted band and yet the degree of talent within the group, when looked at retrospectively, would suggest that they deserved a lot more recognition than they did.

Since the group’s final split, the band’s members have, collectively, produced a remarkable body of work. Cockburn undoubtedly has maintained the most visible profile; with close to thirty albums, and a top thirty US hit in “Wondering Where The Lions Are” to his credit, he has produced a wealth of material that surpasses many of his (better-known) ‘60s contemporaries.

Titcomb also emerged as a solo artist (producing three albums for small Canadian labels), but is perhaps best known for his songwriting skills. Canada’s popular country singer Anne Murray recorded many of his songs, including “Sing High, Sing Low” and “I Still Wish The Very Best For You”. Besides this, Titcomb has also made a habit of cropping up in the most unlikely places. He made a cameo appearance in the popular TV series Due South, and has also done voice-overs for cartoon programmes The Care Bears and Clifford The Dog. If that weren’t enough he has produced song jingles for radio and television, appeared in a TV commercial for Canadian Tire and been featured on a commemorative postage stamp acknowledging the corporation’s 75th Anniversary! His son Liam Titcomb has also established himself as a singer/songwriter of note.

Peterson, who died of cancer in October 1996, also found success after leaving 3’s a Crowd. Her first notable recording was with the New York group Taking Care of Business, who released a lone album, Open For Business on Traffic Records in 1969. In the mid-‘70s she became a popular country singer in Nashville and recorded a string of albums for Capitol. She later returned to Canada and enjoyed a hit with a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. Shortly before she died Peterson was involved in the first LP by Sylvia Tyson’s band The Quartette.

Her predecessor Donna Warner kept a low profile but did make a guest appearance on Jay Telfer’s unreleased album Perch in mid-1969, singing backing vocals. She subsequently appeared on an album with Tommy Banks Century II productions in the early ‘70s and currently resides in Edmonton where she sings in a local choir at a local cancer care facility.

Veitch, like his erstwhile colleagues also found belated success. For a while, he became American singer/songwriter Tom Rush’s right-hand man, but when the duo parted in the mid-‘70s he headed for LA where he has lived ever since. Veitch is perhaps the most unlikely member of the group to find success as a songwriter, and yet no one could quite have foreseen the level of success that was generated from Laura Brannigan’s “Gloria” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey”, both co-penned by Veitch. He has also found a niche for himself as a session player, appearing on albums by artists as diverse as Pink Floyd, Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Luther Vandross. And then there is also his work on film soundtracks, such as Pretty Woman and Top Gun.

Donna Warner (middle) singing on Jay Telfer’s Perch album sessions, spring 1969
Dennis Pendrith also followed the session path. One of Canada’s top session musicians, he also plays with The Bebop Cowboys, while Patterson recorded a lone single with Canada Goose, a cover of Jackie Wilson’s hit “Higher and Higher” for the New York based Tonsil Records, which reached #44 on the RPM charts. He subsequently joined forces with Tom Rush and Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s Great Speckled Bird before working for The Canadian Broadcasting Company for 16 years.And finally there is David Wiffen, who, despite a loyal following in Canada, has remained something of an obscurity elsewhere. That is a huge injustice as his solo work is easily comparable to many of his oft-cited contemporaries. Like Nick Drake and David Ackles, Wiffen has only produced a handful of recordings, yet that has not prevented his songs from being widely covered by many highly respected artists.

Following the break up of 3’s a Crowd, Wiffen paid his way down to Oakland, California to record his second solo album after bagging a recording deal with Fantasy Records. The label – best known for Credence Clearwater Revival – arranged for Wiffen to work with former Youngbloods guitarist Jerry Corbitt, and although Wiffen was able to invite along Sandy Crawley, most of the players were unfamiliar to him. This caused some problems as the record was later finished without his involvement and the master tapes were reportedly damaged. Not only that but only promotional copies were made available in the US. The record did see a Canadian release, but copies are now extremely scarce, and the record has only been re-issued (by Italian label Comet Records’ subsidiary Akarma Records), despite containing his best known songs “Drivin’ Wheel”, “More Often Than Not” and “Mr Wiffen”.

The distribution problems in the US were certainly frustrating but at least Wiffen had the consolation that his work was being covered by the likes of Tom Rush, Roger McGuinn, Ian & Sylvia Tyson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Eric Anderson and Harry Belafonte.

Wiffen’s influence also is evident in more contemporary artists; “Drivin’ Wheel” has become an integral part of The Cowboy Junkies’ live sets. This renewed interest in his work has led to the recording of his first solo album since 1973’s highly acclaimed Coast To Coast Fever album which saw Wiffen collaborate with former 3’s a Crowd members Bruce Cockburn and Dennis Pendrith. His latest album, which is entitled South of Somewhere, includes a number of reworked versions of Wiffen’s “classic” songs plus some new material.

3’s a Crowd’s career meanwhile may finally receive the recognition that it deserves. Richard Patterson has been busy working on a compilation album mixing the band’s album and early singles with later live material, which has previously been unreleased. The CD compilation has yet to see the light of day.

Nevertheless, the respect given to group members Bruce Cockburn and David Wiffen mean that the band will always be held with affection by those who witnessed the group play in Canada during the mid-late ‘60s.

Recordings45 Bound To Fly/Steel Rail Blues (Epic 5-10073) 1966
45 Honey Machine/When The Sun Goes Down (Epic 5-10151) 1967
45 Bird Without Wings/Coat of Colours (RCA Victor 4120) 1967
45 Bird Without Wings/Coat of Colours (Dunhill D-4120) 1968 (US release)
45 Let’s Get Together/Drive You Away (RCA Victor 4131) 1968
45 Let’s Get Together/Drive You Away (Dunhill D-4131) 1968(US release)
LP Christopher’s Movie Matinee (RCA Victor DS-50030) 1968 (Canadian ‘mono’ copy)
LP Christopher’s Movie Matinee (Dunhill DS-50030) 1968 (US release)

Advertised gigs

November 14-20 1965 – 4-D, Regina, Saskatchwan
November 21-December 4 1965 – Esquire Club, Saskatoon
December 12-23 1965 – Guiseppe’s, Edmonton
January 6-19 1966 – Brass Rail, Halifax, Nova Scotia
March 1-6 1966 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
March 17-20 1966 – 4-D, Regina
March 29 1966 – Riverboat, Toronto
April 5-10 1966 – Riverboat, Toronto
April 19-21 1966 – Raven’s Gallery, Detroit
April 23-28 1966 – Riverboat, Toronto
February 24-26 1967 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
February 28-March 5 1967 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
March 28-April 2 1967 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
May 15-21 1967 – Steve Paul’s The Scene with Dianne Brooks, Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers
July 27-30 1967 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
August 1-6 1967 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
August 11-13 1967 – Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto
August 17-September 8 1967 – Expo ’67 Exhibition, Ontario Pavilion, Montreal
September 1967 – Steve Paul’s The Scene, New York with Lothar & The Hand People
October 2-9 1967 – Canadian Pavilion, Expo ‘67 Montreal
October 20 1967 – Student union, UCLA, Los Angeles
November 11 1967 – Neil McNeil’s High School, Toronto
November 13-25 1967 – Granny’s, Walker House Hotel, Toronto
December 2 1967 – Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
December 19-24 1967 – Riverboat, Toronto
January 1968 – Lawrence Park Collegiate, Toronto
February 28 1968 – Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
March 1-2 1968 – Retinal Circus, Vancouver
March 5-17 1968 – Ice House, Glendale, California with Jim & Jean
March 29 1968 – Massey Hall, Toronto
April 22-May 4 1968 – Friars Tavern, Toronto
May 14-18 1968 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
November 19-24 1968 – Le Hibou, Ottawa
January 16-18 1969 – Pornographic Onion, Toronto

Canadian mono-only RCA Victor LP
US stereo LP on Dunhill
The article would not have been possible without the generous help of John Einarson and particularly Richard Patterson, who interviewed the band members. Thanks also to Graham Wiffen, Donna Warner, Sandy Crawley, Brent Titcomb and Trevor Veitch for their input. Thank you to Ivan Amirault for the scans from RPM.Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2001. Updated 2009. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.



US promotional sleeve
Rare German sleeve
RPM, Sept 26, 1966
RPM, Oct 24, 1966
RPM, February 24, 1968
RPM, March 3, 1968

Luke & the Apostles

The Doors and Elektra Records’ producer Paul Rothchild is reported to have once lamented that Toronto R&B outfit, Luke & The Apostles were the “greatest album I never got to make”. Indeed, the group’s lone single for Elektra, released in early 1967, a year after it was recorded, hardly does justice to a band that provided a training ground for several notable musicians who went on to McKenna Mendelson Mainline, Kensington Market and The Modern Rock Quartet (MRQ).

Luke & The Apostles found their roots in the blues band Mike’s Trio, which had been formed in 1963 by school friends, guitarist Mike McKenna (b. 15 April 1946, Toronto), formerly a member of Whitey & The Roulettes, and bass player Graham Dunsmore. Together with drummer Rich McMurray, Mike Trio’s started gigging at the Cellar club in the city’s Yorkville Village playing Jimmy Reed covers. Sometime in early 1964, McMurray introduced Luke Gibson (b. 5 October 1946, Toronto), a singer with great commanding power and presence, who was joined soon afterwards by classically trained keyboard player Peter Jermyn (b. 6 November 1946, Kingston, Ontario).

It was Jermyn who coined the name, Luke & The Apostles, in imitation of another local act, which had chosen a biblical reference, Robbie Lane & The Disciples and soon became a regular fixture on the local club scene. At first the group found work at the Cellar in Toronto’s hip Yorkville Village before moving on to the El Patio and ultimately the Purple Onion. In fact, such was the demand from local fans that, according to respected Canadian rock journalist Nicholas Jennings, the band was still playing at the Purple Onion a year on from its debut!

Before Luke & The Apostles started its run at the Purple Onion, Jim Jones was brought in to replace Graham Dunsmore on bass while Ray Bennett augmented the line up on harmonica for several months. Bennett ultimately composed “Been Burnt,” the a-side to what would become the band’s solitary ‘45 for Elektra, before moving on during the summer of 1965 (later joining The Heavenly Government).

It was shortly after Bennett’s departure that Paul Rothchild caught the group at the Purple Onion one evening in September. As Gibson recalled to Nicholas Jennings in his book, Before The Goldrush, Rothchild was so enthused he asked the band’s front man to audition the band to label boss, Jac Holzman by singing “Been Burnt” down the phone!

Boris’ Coffee House promo, courtesy Ivan Amirault
McKenna remembers the audition vividly. “He actually called Jac and said, ‘listen to the guys’. I don’t know if it was too much smoke or whatever, but at the time they were just starting to get going and I think they were releasing that album that had all those bands on it, including [Paul] Butterfield. That was the first time we heard Butterfield and Rothchild brought it up to us and let us hear it and we were knocked out!

Inking a deal with Elektra, the band flew down to New York in early 1966 and recorded two tracks, Bennett’s “Been Burnt” backed by McKenna’s “Don’t Know Why” for a prospective single. The two recordings were readied for release that spring but then tragedy struck. Paul Rothchild was arrested for marijuana possession and the band’s single was put on hold for a year while he served a prison sentence.

Undeterred, Luke & The Apostles resumed gigging in Toronto and began to extend their fan base beyond Yorkville Village, performing at venues like the North Toronto Memorial Arena on 28 May. But uncertainty over the single’s release and the band’s long-term future began to take its toll, and in early summer Jim Jones announced that he was leaving because he wanted to give up playing. Former Simon Caine & The Catch bass player Dennis Pendrith (b. 13 September 1949, Toronto), who was still in high school at the time, had the unenviable task of filling his idol’s shoes.

With Pendrith on board, Luke & The Apostles found a new home at Boris’ coffeehouse in Yorkville Village where they made their debut on 21-22 July. The group also began to find work beyond the city’s limits, travelling east to Oshawa on 24 July to play at the Jubilee Auditorium.

Later that summer, Luke & The Apostles returned to play several shows at the North Toronto Memorial Arena, and on one occasion (23 August), shared the bill with Montreal’s The Haunted and local group, The Last Words. But the most prestigious concert date during this time was an appearance at the 14-hour long rock show held at Maple Leaf Gardens on 24 September 1966, alongside a dozen or so local bands.

The show proved to be Pendrith’s swan song. The following month, Jim Jones had a change of mind and returned to the fold, leaving the young bass player to find work elsewhere – he subsequently rejoined his former group before hooking up with Livingstone’s Journey in mid-1967. At the same time, Gibson and McKenna decided to dispense with McMurray’s services and recruited a new drummer, Pat Little. The changes, however, did not end there. Sometime in October or November, Peter Jermyn briefly left the group and was replaced by future Bedtime Story and Edward Bear keyboard player Bob Kendall before returning in December 1966.

Amid all the changes, Luke & The Apostles resumed its weekly residency at Boris’, sharing the bill at various times with The Ugly Ducklings and The Paupers among others. They also got the opportunity to perform at the newly opened Club Kingsway on 15 October, opening for singer/songwriter Neil Diamond and travelled to Montreal at the end of the year to play some dates.

By early 1967, Luke & The Apostles’ single had still not been released. Nevertheless, the opportunity to return to New York in mid-April and perform at the Café Au Go Go buoyed spirits. The previous month, McKenna’s friend, bass player Denny Gerrard was opening for Jefferson Airplane with his band The Paupers and during that band’s stay in the Big Apple, Gerrard had met Paul Butterfield who was looking for a replacement for Mike Bloomfield in his band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Gerrard immediately suggested McKenna and passed Butterfield his Toronto number.

“Denny had met Paul Butterfield and said, ‘if you’re looking for a guitar player’ because Bloomfield had gone into hospital or something,” remembers McKenna …[Paul] called me and I actually thought it was a joke! When I realised it was Paul I was absolutely blown away that he had called me.”

With Bloomfield looking to form his new band, The Electric Flag, Butterfield asked McKenna to come down to New York and audition but the guitarist kindly declined the offer. “I couldn’t go because that’s when Luke and I were going to go back to do some recordings and I said, ‘well if I leave Luke and the guys now, the band will probably break up and we’ve got recordings to do.”

While Elektra had not seen fit to release Luke & The Apostles’ first recordings, the label still expressed an interest in recording the band. During its time at the Café Au Go, the label booked the group into its New York studios for a day to record an album’s worth of material, including the tracks, “I Don’t Feel Like Trying” and “So Long Girl”.

During its first stand at the Café Au Go Go (where incidentally the group shared the washroom with The Mothers of Invention who were playing at the Garrick Theatre upstairs) Luke & The Apostles backed folkie Dave Van Ronk but were so well received that the club owner asked the band to return for a second week in late May-early June, opening for The Grateful Dead.

During this engagement, McKenna stuck up a friendship with Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who hounded McKenna to sell him his recently acquired Les Paul Special.

“I think it was the one that was on the Rolling Stone cover,” recalls McKenna. “I bought it in one of the stores in New York and he paid me a handsome sum for what I had paid for it.”

One night Paul Butterfield and his lead guitarist Elvin Bishop turned up to check out the band. According to Suzi Wickett, McKenna’s first wife, both were extremely impressed with McKenna’s guitar-playing style and unique sound. When Bishop asked McKenna how he created such “a sound”, the guitarist graciously explained his secret was in his mixture of Hawaiian and banjo strings used in combination, along with controlled feedback. “It was something I learned from Robbie Robertson and The Hawks,” explains McKenna. “The big thing in Toronto was playing Telecasters but you couldn’t get light gauge strings so what Robbie did was use banjo strings.”

The following night at the Café Au Go Go was standing room only remembers Wickett and everyone who was “anyone” had turned out to see this new band from Toronto. Among those attending were Bob Dylan and Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s manager Albert Grossman and rock promoter Bill Graham who each wanted to sign Luke & The Apostles to a management contract. Bill Graham even offered the band a slot at the Fillmore West in California that summer.

But behind the scenes the band was slowly disintegrating, as Wickett explains. “The pressure was ‘on’ for Luke & The Apostles to decide which manager they were going to sign [with]. The band had been away from Toronto for three weeks; they were in a prime position for national exposure [and] the hottest people in the industry were vying for their commitment to a management contract. Unable to reconcile differences of opinion and personal ambitions, the group fragmented returning to Toronto disillusioned and hostile.”

Luke & The Apostles, however, were not quite ready to implode and resumed their regular gig at Boris’. More importantly, Bill Graham approached Luke & The Apostles and asked the band to open for Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead on 23 July when both groups performed at Nathan Phillips Square in front of 50,000.Graham was suitably impressed by the band’s performance that he asked Luke & The Apostles to repeat their support act at the O’Keefe Centre from 31 July-5 August. During the show the band performed covers of blues favourites “Good Morning Little School Girl” and “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover”.

The concert, however, proved to be the group’s swan song and after a final show at Boris’ Red Gas Room on 6 August, Luke Gibson accepted an offer to join the progressive folk-rock outfit, Kensington Market where he would develop his song writing skills.

Peter Jermyn was also ready to move on. After passing on an offer to join The Blues Project because he would have been liable to be drafted, he subsequently moved to Ottawa to join the band Heart, which evolved into The Modern Rock Quartet. Jim Jones meanwhile played with several bands, including The Artist Jazz Band.

Left with only the band’s name, McKenna and Little decided to go their separate ways. McKenna immediately found work with The Ugly Ducklings before forming the highly respected blues outfit, McKenna Mendelson Mainline the following summer.

Little became an early member of Edward Bear before joining forces with future Blood, Sweat & Tears’ singer David Clayton-Thomas in his group Combine (appearing on the original version of “Spinning Wheel”). In June 1968, however, he joined The Georgian People (later better known as Chimo!) before moving on to Transfusion, the house band at Toronto’s Rock Pile.

Although it was a sad end to what was a great band, the story doesn’t end there. In December 1969, Gibson, McKenna and Little met up to discuss reforming the group. “People didn’t forget,” Gibson explained to Bill Gray in an article for The Toronto Telegram on 19 February 1970. “We used to get asked constantly, all of us, about The Apostles. Everyone seemed to have good memories of the band. We were, after all, kind of unique around Toronto.

“The trouble was, it was only after we broke up that the scene here started to change. Other bands started to come around to the kind of things we had been doing. The blues and rock thing began to dominate and I guess our influence was recalled, that’s why our posthumous reputation has remained so high.”

Completing the line up with former Transfusion guitarist Danny McBride on second lead guitar and McKenna’s pal, ex-Paupers bass player Denny Gerrard (b. 28 February 1947, Scarborough) during January 1970, the group enlisted Bernie Finkelstein (today Bruce Cockburn’s long-standing manager) to represent them.

But the new line up remained unsettled and by the end of the month former Buffalo Springfield bass player Bruce Palmer (b. 9 September 1946, Toronto) came on board in time for the band’s debut shows at the Café Le Hibou in Ottawa from 10-14 February. After opening for Johnny Winter at Massey Hall on 15 February and playing several low-key dates around the city, Palmer dropped out and Jack Geisinger (b. March 1945, Czechoslovakia) from Damage, Milkwood and Influence arrived in time to play on a lone 45, issued on Bernie Finkelstein’s True North Records.

The resulting single, Gibson, McKenna and Little’s “You Make Me High”, is arguably one of the best records to come out of the Toronto scene from that period, and even managed to reach #27 on Canada’s RPM chart in October of that year. The b-side, “Not Far Off”, written by Gibson has a Led Zeppelin feel and some tasty guitar interplay between McKenna and McBride.

The band returned to Toronto’s live scene, supporting Lighthouse at a show held at Convocation Hall on 1 March. A few weeks later, the group performed at the Electric Circus (13-14 March) and then towards the end of the month appeared at the Toronto Rock Festival at Varsity Arena (26 March) on a bill featuring Funkadelic, Damage and Nucleus among others.

In the first week of April, Luke & The Apostles embarked on a brief tour of Boston with Mountain but behind the scenes, the band was slowly unravelling. Following a show at the Electric Circus in Toronto on 9 May, McKenna dropped out to rejoin his former band, now going by the name Mainline.

The band ploughed on appearing at the Peace Festival at Varsity Arena on 19-21 June on a bill that also included Rare Earth, SRC, Bush and George Olliver & The Natural Gas among others. But soon afterwards McBride also handed in his notice and later became a mainstay of Chris de Burgh’s backing band.

Transfusion, clockwise from top: Danny McBride (with Gibson ES335), Tom Sheret, Pat Little, Simon Caine and Rick Shuckster.

RPM, August 15, 1970
In his place, Luke & The Apostles recruited Geisinger’s former Influencecohort, Walter Rossi (b. 29 May 1947, Naples, Italy), who had played with The Buddy Miles Express in the interim.

With Rossi on board Luke & The Apostles made a prestigious appearance at that summer’s Strawberry Fields Pop Festival held at Mosport Park, Ontario on the weekend of 7-8 August 1970. A short tour followed, including several appearances at the CNE Bandstand in Toronto where the band shared the bill with Lighthouse, Crowbar and Dr John among others. Then on 1 September, the group headed down to New York to perform at the popular club, Ungano’s.

In an interview with Peter Goddard for Toronto Telegram’s 17 September issue, manager Bernie Finkelstein was confident that the band had a promising future ahead. “We’ve been asked to go back to Ungano’s in New York City for the middle of October,” he said. “But we might wait to get the material for our first album ready so that we can release it around mid-October.”

Unfortunately, the promised album never appeared and soon after a show at Kipling Collegiate in Toronto on 9 October, Luke Gibson left for a solo career followed shortly afterwards by Pat Little. The remaining members recruited ex-Wizard drummer Mike Driscoll, performing as The Apostles before splitting in early 1971. Rossi subsequently recorded a brilliant, Jimi Hendrix-inspired album as Charlee in early 1972 with help from Geisinger and Driscoll before embarking on a successful solo career which continues to this day.

Gibson also embarked on a solo career and in 1971 recorded a lone album for True North Records with help from Dennis Pendrith, Jim Jones and Bruce Cockburn. Gibson continued to gig throughout the 1970s and 1980s with his bands Killaloe, The Silver Tractors and Luke Gibson Rocks before eschewing a singing career to become a film set painter. Little rejoined Chimo! for the band’s final single and then hooked up with Rick James in Heaven and Earth for two singles on RCA Victor in late 1971. He also reunited with McKenna to record an album with the band, DiamondBack.

Legend surrounding the band, however, has grown over the years and in the late ‘90s, early members Gibson, Jermyn, Jones and McKenna reformed the group with future Downchild Blues Band drummer Mike Fitzpatrick for the “Toronto Rock Revival” concert held at the Warehouse on 2 May 1999. Later that year Jermyn, Jones and McKenna became house band at Yorkville club, Blues on Bellair and were joined intermittently by Gibson.

As recently as 1 June 2002, Luke & The Apostles were playing at the club and local label Bullseye Records recorded one of the shows for a proposed live CD, comprising the old favourites and more contemporary material but so far nothing has been released. Nevertheless, the band still commands a loyal following and hopefully a full length CD release detailing the group’s colourful career will finally do justice to one of Toronto’s most overlooked and talented bands.


45 Been Burnt/Don’t Know Why (Bounty 45105) 1967
45 Been Burnt/Don’t Know Why (Elektra 45105) 1967
45 You Make Me High/Not Far Off (TN 101) 1970
45 You Make Me High/You Make Me High (TN 102) 1970

Advertised gigs

September 1965 – The Purple Onion, Toronto
May 28 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto
July 21-22 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
July 23 1966 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
July 24 1966 – The Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario
July 26-29 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
July 31-August 1 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
August 2 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto with Bobby Kris & The Imperials and the Stitch in Tyme
August 18-21 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
August 23 1966 – North Toronto Memorial Arena, Toronto with The Last Words and The Haunted
September 8 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
September 11 1966 – El Patio, Toronto
September 15 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
September 16 1966 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with The Tripp, All Five, Klaas Vangrath and Al Lalonde
September 17-18 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
September 22-23 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
September 24 1966 – Maple Leaf Gardens with Little Caesar & The Consuls, The Ugly Ducklings, The Tripp, The Paupers, Bobby Kris & The Imperials, The Stitch In Tyme, The Spasstiks, R K & The Associates, Little Caesar & The Consuls, The Big Town Boys and others
September 25 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
October 1-2 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
October 8-10 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
October 14-15 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
October 15 1966 – Club Kingsway, Toronto with Neil Diamond, The Counts, The Big Town Boys and Canadian Dell-Tones
October 22-23 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
November 4 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Orphans
November 5 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Vendettas
November 6 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Ugly Ducklings
November 18-20 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
November 26-27 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
December 2-4 1966 – Boris’, Toronto
December ?? 1966 – Montreal
December 23 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Spectrums
December 24-27 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Paupers
December 28 1966 – Boris’, Toronto with The Vendettas
December 29-1 January 1967 – Boris’, Toronto with The Paupers
January 6 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room (newly opened), Toronto with The Vendettas
January 7 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto with The Ugly Ducklings
January 8 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto with The Vendettas
January 13-15 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
January 21-22 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
January 29 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
February 4-5 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto
February 10 1967 – The Villa Inn, Streetsville, Ontario
February 12 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto with The Paupers
February 17-19 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
February 24-26 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
February 26 1967 – Club Isabella, Toronto
March 3-5 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
March 10 1967 – Boris’, Toronto with The Vendettas
March ?? 1967 – Ottawa
March 29-April 2 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
March 31 1967 – Gogue Inn, Toronto with The Wee Beasties and The Citations
April 8-9 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
April ?? 1967 – New York dates
April 14-16 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
April 22-23 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
April 28 1967 – YMCA Inferno Club, Toronto, Willowdale, Ontario
April 29 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
May 7-?? 1967 – Café Au Go Go, New York with David Van Ronk
May 13-14 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
May 19-20 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
May 21-?? 1967 – Café Au Go Go, New York
June 4 1967 – Café Au Go Go, New York with Eric Andersen
June 16-18 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
June 22-24 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 6-7 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 8 1967 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough with The Midnights and The Trayne
July 9 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 13-16 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 21-22 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 23 1967 – Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto with Jefferson Airplane
July 28-29 1967 – Boris’, Toronto
July 31-August 5 1967 – O’Keefe Centre, Toronto with Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane
August 6 1967 – Boris’ Red Gas Room, Toronto
February 10-14 1970 – Café Le Hibou, Ottawa
February 15 1970 – Massey Hall, Toronto with Johnny Winter
February 20 1970 – WM L MacKenzie Collegiate, Toronto
February 21 1970 – WA Porter Collegiate, Toronto
March 1 1970 – Convocation Hall, Toronto with Lighthouse and Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck
March 13-14 1970 – Electric Circus, Toronto
March 26 1970 – Toronto Rock Festival, Varsity Arena with Funkadelic, Nucleus, Damage and others
April 2-4 1970 – Boston Tea Party, Boston with Mountain and Ronnie Hawkins
April 15-16 1970 – East York Collegiate, Toronto with Five Man Electrical Band
May 1 1970 – St Gabe’s, Willowdale, Ontario
May 2 1970 – Cedarbrae College, Toronto
May 9 1970 – Electric Circus, Toronto with Fear
June 16-21 1970 – Café Le Hibou, Ottawa
June 19-21 1970 – Peace Festival, Varsity Arena with Rare Earth, SRC, Bush, George Olliver & The Natural Gas, Nucleus and others
August 7-8 1970 – Strawberry Fields Pop Festival, Mosport Park, Ontario
August 13 1970 – Woodbine Arena, Woodbine, Ontario
August 20 1970 – CNE Bandstand, Toronto with Soma, Lighthouse, Crowbar, Mashmakan and Dr John
August 27 1970 – CNE Bandstand, Toronto with Mashmakan
September 1 1970 – Ungano’s, New York with Charade
October 9 1970 – Kipling Collegiate, Toronto with Cheshire Cat

To contact the author, email:


Many thanks to Mike McKenna, Peter Jermyn, Mike Harrison, Carny Corbett, Bill Munson, Craig Webb, Suzi Wickett, John Bennett and Walter Rossi. The Toronto Telegram’s After Four section has also been invaluable for live dates and reviews. Also thanks to Ross from for the scan of the San Francisco Scene program. Thank you to Ivan Amirault for the scans from RPM.

Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2005, updated 2009. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.

RPM, August 22, 1970