Don Norman and the Other Four

Don Norman and the Other Four, Leonard Alexander Agency promo
Don Norman and the Other Four, Leonard Alexander Agency promo

RPM, January 3, 1966 The Esquires: original members Ric Patterson and Brian Lewis out, new members include Ted Gerow, John Cassidy and Doug Orr
RPM, January 3, 1966
The Esquires: original members Ric Patterson and Brian Lewis out, new members include Ted Gerow, John Cassidy and Doug Orr
Don Norman had been playing guitar and singing in Ottawa bands since 1961, with the Continentals, the Jades and the Esquires, who cut his song “Cry Is All I Do”.

Don described his early work:

I began playing guitar in 1958 and was composing songs by late 1959. Early influences were Elvis, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. The first time I was in a professional recording studio was September 1961 and I still have the master tape. The session was for two songs that I had composed and the band was known as the Continentals.

By the year 1963 I had joined a band by the name of the Esquires, which had already released two singles in Canada for Capitol Records. I became the vocalist for this group and some months later, in the early spring of 1964, we recorded an LP for Capitol. This was followed by three more single releases including “Cry Is All I Do”. I wrote the song in 1964 and it was recorded in early 1965 and released that spring.

Don Norman and the Other Four photoDon had an acrimonious break with the Esquires in the summer of ’65, leading to a lawsuit when he named his new band Don Norman and the Esquires. He gave up the Esquires name, but his departure from the band cost the original Esquires their contract with Capitol. The band he formed became Don Norman and the Other Four: Gary Comeau (who had also been in the Esquires) on lead guitar, Bill Hellman bass, Ron Greene organ and Brian Dewherst on drums. With the addition of John Matthews on sax, the Other Four were five!

Don Norman and the Other Four Barry 45 The Bounce / All of My Life
Don Norman and the Other Four Barry 45 The Bounce / All of My Life

At their first session at RCA’s Hallmark Studios in Toronto, they recorded two different singles. They backed Bob Harrington on “Changes” / “Country Boy” on REO 8947X, the A-side being a Heinz cut, the flip a Phil Ochs composition. It was released as “Bob Harrington with Don Norman & the Other Four”. Bob Harrington was the original lead vocalist of the Esquires who Don had replaced in the band.

 Les Demi-Douzaines - actually Don Norman & the Other Four
Les Demi-Douzaines – actually Don Norman & the Other Four
The other single without Harrington was their upbeat cover of the Olympics’ hit “The Bounce”, with Don’s original “All of My Life” on the flip. It was released on the Barry label (a subsidiary of Quality) in the summer of ’66. Despite being picked up by MGM for distribution in the U.S., Quality failed to get behind the release and let it fade.

There is also a French version on the Solfege label, “Le Bounce” / “Je T’ai Cherche”. The band listed, Les Demi-Douzaines (“The Half-Dozen”) was actually Don Norman & the Other Four under a pseudonym. Ivan Amirault wrote to me: “I have a copy of it. Funny thing with mine is it doesn’t have the same Quality number as the one shown in your site. Mine has a one hundred series number which is what the label used for their Quebec French titles.”

Dissatisfied with Quality’s promotion of the band, their manager, DJ and CJOH-TV’s Saturday Date host John Pozer started the Sir John A label with Ron Greene to back Don’s songwriting and vocal talents. Gary Comeau left after “The Bounce” to join the Townsmen.

Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A PS Low Man
Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A PS Low Man
Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A 45 Low Man
Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A 45 Low Man

The band’s first 45 on Sir John A was the amazing “Low Man”, definitely one of the great moments in Canadian rock. Don recalls recording it at Stereo Sound in Montreal while the studio was still under construction! Don used a Gibson fuzz box on the bass to get that distinctive sound. “Low Man” was released in November of ’66, backed by a cover of “Mustang Sally”, and featured their new guitarist Art Kirkby.

The picture sleeve that accompanied the 45 was printed with the opening for the record on the bottom, so most copies were cut up and pasted onto plain white sleeves.

Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A 45 Your Place in My Heart
Don Norman and the Other Four Sir John A 45 Your Place in My Heart
Next up was another Norman original, the fine “Your Place in My Heart”, featuring John Matthews on vocals, backed with “Trae Hymn 1”.

Their third and last 45 on Sir John A was just a pairing of the last two a-sides: the label scans I’m featuring here. Both songs were produced by Norman Greene.

Several factors have been mentioned as reasons for why this talented group didn’t make a bigger mark at the time: a disinclination of the band to tour, a lack of enthusiasm from Ottawa audiences, John Pozer’s departure to work for Variety Artists in Toronto, and the low distribution of Sir John A records.

In early 1967 the band went through a drastic line-up change, keeping Ron Greene on keyboards, but with Don moving to bass, and three members of the Bittersweet joining: John Winskell on lead guitar, Rick Paradis on vocals and Skip Layton on drums.

With a new pop sound, they recorded what was to be the band’s next single, “Nothing To Do, No Place To Go”. The band broke up without even recording a b-side, so it remained unreleased until the 1997 release of ‘Ottawa Rocks! The Sir John A Years’ compilation. Disillusioned and not seeing a future in music, Don retired from performing at the age of 23!

Sources include Erin Truscott’s interview with Don Norman in Misty Lane #15; the Sir John A site (link); Don’s own description of his career (link); and Glynis Ward and Alex Taylor’s history of the band.Special thanks to Ivan for his scans of record sleeves and promotional materials.

Don Norman and the Other Four, RPM, July 25, 1966
RPM, July 25, 1966
 RPM, June 27, 1966
RPM, June 27, 1966
Don Norman & the Other Four promo photo
Don Norman & the Other Four promo photo
 "All of My Life" promoted in RPM, October 24, 1966
“All of My Life” promoted in RPM, October 24, 1966

25 thoughts on “Don Norman and the Other Four”

  1. Thanks for your page devoted to Don Norman & The Other Four.
    “Low Man” was a favourite record for my brother & me & I enjoyed learning a little more about the band. -cheers, lar.

  2. I have the CD Ottawa Rocks produced by John Poser who at one time hosted Saturday Date,,Lot of good bands in Ottawa in the 60’s and places to here them.

  3. Greetings Barry.

    I saw your post on the garagehengover site concerning the ‘Ottawa Rocks’ CD. I would greatly like to get my paws on that CD as I recall that most of the bands on it were at least as good (if not better) then the ‘high flyers’ of the day (ie. The The Staccatos / Five Man Electrical Band). If you’d be willing to cut me a copy (I’d buy an original but it appears they’re NLA), I’d gladly compensate you for the time and effort. Or, alternatively, we could arrange an email attachment exchange if you’ve got them RIP’ed.

    As an aside, I have a number of MP3s of tracks from the same era by The Townsmen, very good quality, which may be of interest to you if you’re into that particular band.

    Please let me know and thanks in advance.

  4. I do remember the Staccatos but forgot what their big hit was? There was another band I think came from the Ottawa area; Bentwood Rocker. Do you have any info on them? Are there any other bands you know of?

  5. Don Norman played for the Esquires who had a hit with It’s A Dirty Shame,he founded Don Norman and the Other Four.They used to play at PineLandt and The Roost.Back in the sixties Ottawa was the hub of Canadian Music with band like The Staccots The Scoundrels nd the Slaywags just to name a few

  6. Hey Lar,

    I was the drummer on that session. Lots of fun.
    Those were great days for a teen, playing dances
    all over the Ottawa area and the occasional tv show.

    Glad you enjoyed the track.

    Brian Dewhurst

  7. Don Norman, although a terrific Ottawa performer, was not in The Esquires when they recorded “It’s a Dirty Shame.” The Esquires were a very popular Ottawa band which changed membership several times.

  8. Bentwood Rocker are from Belleville, Ontario. They were previously known as “The Sands of Time”. I know this to be accurate as I went to the same High School as they did. Quinte Secondary School in Belleville. You can check them out at Youtube.

  9. I lived around the corner from Art Kirkby for years and we were great friends. I moved to the other side of Ottawa and started losing touch then I joined the U.S. Navy and did not see him again. I have googled him but can get no results. He had Parkinsons Disease and I fear he is gone. The last I knew of him he was going to China to study. Any help out there? thanks.

  10. In the early 60’s I lived in a subdivision called Manordale that was not far from Uplands Airport, in Ottawa. My good friend was named Heather Greene and she had a guitar playing commercial artist brother named Ron.
    Would you be the guy?
    I’d love to be able to get in touch with Heather.
    Take care.
    Sandy (Tunis) Penney

    1. Hi Heather
      My brother Ron Greene brought this webpage to my attention and the fact that you have been trying to get in touch with me I would love to hear from you. My married name is now Harrison. My e mail address is

  11. Hi Growing up in Ottawa was a great time in the Garage Band Era,Even though Ottawa was a small city back then it out done Toronto/Montrel for bands.The 5D The Dueces Stacottos and much more.It was great I have a CD at home called Ottawa Rocks which was produced by John PozerI bumped into Keith Richardson from the 5D and we chatted between set at The Ottawa Casino.Ottawa will always rock

  12. Hi. I was a member so many years ago of Don Norman & the Other Four when we recorded “Nothing To Do, No Place To Go”. At the time, for technical (and personal) reasons, the tune remained unfinished and unreleased. (I had an early tape, but lost it.) Everybody in the group moved on and away. I tried several times to locate a copy of our non-release, and tried even harder when I heard of the Ottawa Rocks CD compilation, since it covered not only our band, but other contemporaries. The only “single” I still have from that time is “My Minds Eye”, by the Paper Dream, a recording on which I contributed back-up vocals. No luck finding the Ottawa Rocks CD.
    Can you help me with this? I would love to have a copy of that CD!
    Many thanks.

  13. Hi guys. I know that Brian Murphy from Chez produced a radio program based completly around Ottawa Bands. The show covered two nights. For a while I had a tape of the second night, but can no longer find it. All this to say, I called Chez and I believe I spoke with Steve Cowell. He told me the original tape of the show was there with some of Brian’s stuff. I asked if it would ever be aired again, he said probably not, but if I wanted a copy come on down. I never did. I guess just mentioning the name Brian (the source) Murphy gives you an idea of just how comprehensive the show was. I hope you are able to access it. Good Luck Hoopero

  14. Hi Rick,

    I’d love to talk to you and I have a copy of the CD for you. We haven’t been in touch for years. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you. I will never, ever forget all the fun and laughter we shared. If we ever had tough times; I’ve long since forgotten about it.

    Patty and I are still together. I’m still making music too and perform for audiences several times a month. My email is

    I’d love to hear from you,

    Don Norman

  15. Hi, Don! Talk about being late for a very important gig. First off, I really owe you a debt of thanks for the time we spent together. Too bad all kids today can’t benefit from such an experience. Education is very important. But music, like sport or, I suppose, the military life, teach you the importance of discipline, organization and mutual respect while offering extraordinary camaraderie. The benefits, including the memories, like family, stay with you forever. Some memories may fade, but the values will always remain. On February 1st of last year, the great lady with whom I had shared my life for 15 years was taken by an insatiable cancer. It was discovered in early December. Born in Paris, France on December 27, 1959, Isabelle spent her 49th birthday, Christmas and New Year’s in her hospital bed. She only allowed me to leave her bedside when it was feeding time for our three cats. (I’m starting to wax somewhat philosophic, à la Ron Greene. I think about Ron a lot, and I hope he’s doing well.)

    Back to business. I’ve spent years, literally, trying to track down the only real proof that the Don Norman years really happened (for me). Oftentimes, memories seem to be but thoughts and talk. And as the natural aging process takes over… yes, some memories do indeed tend to fade. But those years, the DN & O4 and Sir John A years I will not forget. Please direct me to the nearest hoop. I’ll hop, skip and jump and, of course, pay you whatever the charge. Let’s see, interest over 40 years…

    All the best to Patty.


  16. And a heck of a drummer you were, too. As I see from other posts, I am rumoured to be dead. And so were you incidentally. I’ll tell you the story some time. Glad (for both of us) that the rumours were wrong. All the very best. Art

  17. Chuck: What a great surprise. Glad you are well (so am I, not dead even a little.) I’m at avkirkby [at] if you’d like to catch up. Art

  18. I’m helping a dear friend of mine to put on a 60’s dance in Kingston, ON for the Summer of 2013!! Mary (Balfe) Campeau wants to call it “The Rideau Ferry Inn Revival Dance” Some of you may remember the days at the Rideau Ferry Inn and Mary when she had feature bands including The Esquires!! Would love to make something special happen!! If anyone has suggestions or input please contact me directly at . I understand there were a upwards of a 1000 people at these dances… wouldn’t that be special today !!!

  19. Love this site! Don Norman and the Other Four! Wow, I remember them playing “Lowman” in the auditorium at Woodroffe High School with that great fuzz guitar line. One of my three fave ‘garage tunes’ along with “1-2-5” by The Haunted and “Nothin” by The Ugly Ducklings.

    Art Kirkby was the guitarist and I believe he was a senior at Woodroffe too.

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