The Skaliwags (sometimes misspelled Skalliwags) came from Ottawa, Canada like a band I profiled last month, the Raphaels. The Skaliwags had been around since 1961, based in Gatineau. Lead singer Eddy Mitchell remembered Big 12 shows at the old Coliseum from noon to midnight, where each of the 12 bands would play two short sets and as many as 8,000 kids would attend during the day. Those shows gave the band many contacts, including John Brower (who would later produce the Rock and Roll Revival festival where the Plastic Ono Band would record Live Peace in Toronto) and local DJs including Al Pascal of CFRA.
Alex Sherman of Sherman’s Music was owner of Excellent label and put up the money for the singles. The Skaliwags went to RCA studios in Montreal to record their first single in February of 1966. “Turn Him Down” reached #1 on CFRE. The flip, “365 Days a Year” is equally excellent.After this single, the band splintered. Lead guitarist John Bacho left to join the Townsmen, and bassist Andy Cody left the band to get married. Ed Mitchell recalled the Skaliwags recruiting Chris Saunders and Ralph Leroux from The Slaves of Time. Ralph Leroux is the brother of David Leroux of the Raphaels. Pete Christensen of the Raphaels joined on bass.
I’ll reproduce Eddy Mitchell’s comment below:
I was the singer for the Skaliwags. The version of the group that recorded “Turn Him Down” consisted of Ed Mitchell singer, John Bacho lead guitar, Gerry Foster (real name Gerry Fortier) rhythm guitar, Andy Cody (real name Andre Cote) bass guitar and Gil Brooks (real name Jules Leclair) drums. The names were changed so as not to appear to come from Gatineau, since we thought that it make a difference to Ottawa kids.
The second record, “Me Minus More” was recorded by Ed Mitchell, Gerry Fortier, Ralph Leroux, Peter Christianson, and Chris Saunders. I left the Skaliwags in October of 1967 and joined another Gatineau called Musical Fantasy who went nowhere, and I quit music altogether on December 15, 1967 when my lung collapsed on stage at what was then called Immaculata High School on Bronson Ave.
Paul Warman (spelled Paull Warman on the green label releases) wrote all four songs the Skaliwags released, including their second release, “Me Minus More” / “Broken Man Am I” from 1967. Eddy Mitchell said in an interview on Brian Murphy’s Capitol Roots radio show on CHEZ 106.1 FM in Ottawa in the early ’80s that the band was trying to find a song as catchy as “Raindrops keep Falling on My Head”. The band broke up after the second single.
Eddy wrote to me about Paul Warman:
Paul Warman who passed away in January of 2011, was our manager. He never played in the group and as you know he wrote all four songs. He also wrote another song titled “You Ain’t Pulling the Wool Over My Eyes Babe”. We actually recorded the song and one of the guys in the group kept the acetate. It was destroyed in a house fire several years later. As to photos, you have everything that I have, except some that go further back to the really early days.
Paul Warman passed away on Jan 23rd, 2011 at the age of 67.
Excellent E-5001 (1st issue, gold label) – 365 Days a Year / Turn Him Down
Excellent E-5001 (2nd issue, green label) – 365 Days a Year / Turn Him Down
Excellent E-5001 (green label) – Me Minus More / Broken Man Am I
Thank you to Alex for the promotional photo seen at top, and to Ivan Amirault for the scans of the Skaliwags 45s, the additional photos, and the clip of the Capitol Roots show.