Born: 1953, Lynn Lake, Manitoba
- Diamond Album (Mad Mad World, 1991)
– 16 Top 40 Singles, including 9 in the Top 10, and 2 #1′s
– Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (2009)
– Induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2003)
– 4 major Juno Awards
Major Juno Awards
- Group of the Year (Tom Cochrane & Red Rider), 1987
– Male Artist of the Year, 1992
– Song of the Year (“Life is a Highway”), 1992
– Album of the Year (Mad Mad World), 1992
Studio Albums and Hit Singles
1974: Hang on to Your Resistance
1980: Don’t Fight It
- Hit Single: “White Hot” (#20)
1981: As Far as Siam
- Hit Single: “Human Race” (#29)
1984: Breaking Curfew
Tom Cochrane & Red Rider
1986: Tom Cochrane & Red Rider
- Hit Singles: “Boy Inside the Man” (#25)
1988: Victory Day
- Hit Singles: “Big League” (#4 WP; n/a YE), “Good Times” (#2 WP; #36 YE), “Victory Day” (#32)
1991: Mad Mad World
- Certified Diamond
– Hit Singles: “Life Is a Highway” (#1 WP; #5 YE; #6 U.S.), “No Regrets” (#3 WP; n/a YE), “Sinking Like a Sunset” (#2 WP; n/a YE), “Mad Mad World” (#25), “Washed Away” (#7 WP; n/a YE)
1995: Ragged Ass Road
- Hit Singles: “I Wish You Well” (#1 WP; #4 YE), “Wildest Dreams” (#5 WP; #49 YE), “Dreamer’s Dream” (#4 WP; #37 YE), “Crawl” (#11 WP; #90 YE)
1999: X-Ray Sierra
- Hit Singles: “Willie Dixon Said”
2006: No Stranger
WP = Peak on Weekly Singles Charts.
YE = Position on the Year-End Singles Chart.
n/a YE = Finished in Year-End Top 100 but position unknown as the chart is currently unavailable for that year.
All Canadian chart positions published by RPM Magazine.
All U.S. chart positions published by Billboard Magazine.
While most members of rock bands see their success diminish when they go solo, the opposite was true for Manitoba-born Tom Cochrane who became the next big male pop star in Canada after Hart, Adams, and Gowan with two Top 5 hits in late 1988 / early 1989. His Mad Mad World, released in 1991, eventually reached Diamond status, selling a million copies domestically.
Tom Cochrane was born in the small mining town of Lynn Lake in north-western Manitoba. His father was a bush pilot. When he was 4 his family relocated to Acton, Ontario and then the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. When he was 11, he sold his toy train set to buy a guitar and after school began playing folk music in cafes across Canada. An album of his material was released in 1974 (re-released later after his breakthrough). He went down to Los Angeles (U.S.) to write music for movies but earned little income. He returned to Toronto and drove a cab before taking a job on a Caribbean cruise liner.
In 1976, he returned to Los Angeles working as a dishwasher and for a delivery company while trying to peddle his songs to record companies. Without any luck, he returned to Toronto again.
One fateful night in 1978, Cochrane walked into the El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto and met the band Red Rider. The band was looking for a lead singer who could also help with song-writing and Tom fit the bill. He called his friend Deane Cameron at Capitol Records and some politics was played out. He suggested the band get Rush manager Ray Danniels to represent them but when Danniels tried to sign them onto his own Anthem label, Cameron drafted them onto Capitol. Meanwhile, managerial high-flier Bruce Allen requested Capitol take on emerging band Prism. Cameron swung a deal saying he would sign Prism on condition that Allen manage Red Rider.
The debut release Don’t Fight It appeared in 1980 and spawned the Top 20 hit “White Hot” about poet Arthur Rimbaud and his travels through Africa. Although they saw no further hit singles from subsequent albums, aside from the Top 30 “Human Race” off their Neruda album (named after the South American poet), airplay of songs on album-oriented rock stations across Canada helped keep record sales respectable. By the mid-80s, however, the band had run out of steam, not having been able to repeat their early success. Apparently, the pressure resulted in a fist-fight among band members and crew. Red Rider dissolved and departed Bruce Allen’s camp which was devoting more attention to Loverboy and Bryan Adams.
Cochrane and Red Rider’s guitarist Ken Greer maintained a working relationship and recruited ex-Streetheart bassist Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve. A change of scenery was called-for and they headed over to Dave Edmund’s Rockfield Studios in Wales.
Cochrane was beginning to hit his stride. The album entitled Tom Cochrane & Red Rider yielded the radio hit “Boy Inside the Man” and won for them a Juno for Group of the Year. With much musical experience (13 years), Tom was asked to produce The Grapes of Wrath’s Treehouse album. Encouraged by the progress, he recruited keyboardist John Webster and John Cougar Mellencamp producer Don Gehman and put his heart and soul into Victory Day. Everything fell into place and two songs off the album broke into the Top 5. In “Big Leauge” he sang about a rising hockey star killed in a car crash. The story was used to convey the message that exporting Canadian talent to the United States was ultimately unsatisfying. The song peaked at #4 on the RPM charts. The follow-up “Good Times”, peaking at #2, was the biggest Canadian song of 1989, beating out Kim Mitchell, Jeff Healey, Blue Rodeo, and even Alannah Myles. In lieu of his success, he recorded some of his / Red Rider’s past songs to orchestral arrangements and released The Symphony Sessions.
The Red Rider concept had, by now, overstayed its welcome, and Greer decided to further his career as a producer / collaborator. This meant that Tom had now come full-circle, returning to a soloist like in the early days of the 70s. The difference was that he was now a household name in Canada. There was something personal he wanted to do first, however. He took his family to walk on African soil on behalf of the World Vision famine relief organization. 1991′s Mad Mad World was shaped by such an experience.
To put it briefly, the album saw five of its tracks crack the Top 30, four of which the Top 10, and one of which—”Life is a Highway”—become a chart-topper and international hit, nabbing the Juno Award for Song of the Year. The album, itself, sold a million copies in Canada, certifying itself Diamond, won the Juno for Album of the Year and for Cochrane Male Artist of the Year.
Four years later, Cochrane released Ragged Ass Road which, in terms of hit singles, matched the success of Mad Mad World. The album was more stripped-down than its predecessor. Two more studio albums followed.
Tom Cochrane is an avid golfer, a pilot, and a hockey buff. He lives in Oakville, Ontario, often spending his summers at his cottage in Georgian Bay and part of his winters at his home outside of Austin, Texas. He and wife Kathleene have two daughters.