Tag Archives: Bryan Adams
This month, November 2014, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Bryan Adams’ Reckless, the first album by a homegrown artist to sell a million copies in Canada (diamond certification). It was the North Vancouver singer’s 4th studio album and won the JUNO for Album of the Year. The album was a huge international success peaking at #1 in the United States and #7 in the United Kingdom. Reckless spawned six Top 40 hits in 1985: “Run to You” (#4), “Summer of ’69” (#11), “Heaven” (#11), “Somebody” (#13), “It’s Only Love” (#14), and “One Night Love Affair” (#19). “It’s Only Love” featured American singer Tina Turner. Adams co-produced the album with Bob Clearmountain, and it was recorded at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Sound Studios. All 10 album tracks were composed by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.
Something that cannot be quantified was the impact Reckless had on the Canadian public. It bolstered pride in Canadian music and support for homegrown artists as a whole. Reckless and Corey Hart’s Boy in the Box were the twin Canadian diamond sellers of the mid-80s. Hart had the #1 song of 1985 – “Never Surrender” – and Adams was one of the key figures who arranged the charity single for African famine relief “Tears Are Not Enough” with supergroup Northern Lights. It was also the year that saw Canadian actor Michael J. Fox star in Hollywood blockbuster Back to the Future. As far as entertainment goes, 1985 was one of the coolest years ever to be Canadian.
In celebration of Reckless’ 30th anniversary, a special multiple disc edition of the album will be released on November 24: a deluxe version and a super deluxe version. The set will feature previously unreleased songs associated with the original album, re-mastering of the original tracks, live versions, and high definition music videos.
Topping the UK Singles Chart has proven to be one of the most challenging feats for a Canadian recording artist over the years. Less Canadians than you would think have crowned the chart and many you would assume have done so have not. From the 1950s until the present, only eight Canadians have scored a #1 hit in Britain: four women and four men. No bands have made the grade. There were a few who were able to hit the top as a featured artist (Drake), a group with a Canadian member (The Archies), or a collaboration (DVBBS with Borgeous and Tinie Tempah) but for the purposes of this list, we will count these simply as honourable mentions.
The first Canadian recording artist to score a number one hit in Britain was Ottawa’s rock and roll pioneer Paul Anka. He charted a total of 15 songs in the UK from 1957 until 1974 but it was only his first that hit the top: “Diana”. The song spent a total of 25 weeks on the chart including nine weeks at #1. It sold over a million copies in the land of Buckingham.
Winnipeg’s Terry Jacks scored two hits in the UK. “Seasons in the Sun” reached number one there in 1974 as it did just about everywhere else. It had been 17 years since a Canuck was on top.
North Vancouver’s Bryan Adams has landed 36 songs on the UK charts. Only one of them hit the top, and that was “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” in 1991. The blockbuster smash which remained on top for 16 weeks also propelled his album Waking Up the Neighbours to the top of the British Albums chart, something that hadn’t happened since Neil Young’s Harvest in 1972.
Céline Dion (Charlemagne, QC) is the only Canadian to score more than one chart-topper in Britain. “Think Twice” was her first in 1994. The second was of course “My Heart Will Go On” in 1998. Surprisingly, though, the former was a bigger hit than the latter. “Think Twice” remained on the charts for 31 weeks and spent seven of them on top. Celine has enjoyed 30 charting singles in the UK.
With 18 hits in Britain, Victoria’s Nelly Furtado was fortunate to have one of them crown the chart, and that one was 2006’s “Maneater”. Nelly was the only Canadian artist to receive a BRIT award during the noughties decade.
Six years after Nelly topped the British charts, her BC sister, Mission’s Carly Rae Jepsen did the same with “Call Me Maybe,” the best-selling international single of the year. The song remained on the UK charts for 48 weeks, four of them at #1. Carly has seen four charting singles in Britain so far.
Though he’s from California, Robin Thicke is a Canadian citizen (he has dual citizenship). His “Blurred Lines” reached #1 in 2013 and is still on the UK charts having spent 51 weeks thus far.
The most recent Canadian to hit #1 in the United Kingdom is Calgary’s Kiesza. “Hideaway” is her 2014 debut single, and she became a household name in Britain before most Canucks had heard of her. With the seven names above, Kiesza is in pretty blessed company.
The king of heartland rock is in the middle of his cross-Canada tour which began in St. John’s on April 11; tonight he is in Toronto. After Thunder Bay, May 9th, he is off to Portugal and will return to do western Canada in June. Bryan Adams released his first hit single in 1979, “Let Me Take You Dancing” which received extensive airplay on Vancouver’s “LG73″. After two albums that saw modest sales, he unleashed his triple platinum Cuts Like a Knife in 1983 which spawned 3 Top 40 hits. This album was basically the setup for his hydrogen bomb, Reckless, the first Canadian album in history to go diamond at home with a million copies sold and 6 Top 20 hits, including “Run to You” which made the Top 5.
In 1991, Adams released his second diamond album, Waking up the Neighbours, which saw one of the biggest hit singles in history top the charts around the globe and was featured in the Hollywood blockbuster motion picture Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The song was “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”. Waking Up the Neighbours became the first Canadian album since Neil Young’s Harvest in 1972 to top the album charts in the United Kingdom. Although the 90s saw Adam’s greatest success on the singles charts (9 number ones), most think of him as an 80s sensation. His achievements brought unsurpassed Canadian pride to those who spent their youth in that decade.
Check out the tour dates on Bryan Adams’ website.
Bryan Adams was the very first Canadian recording artist to score a diamond album when he released Reckless in 1984. In 1991, he scored his second diamond album, Waking Up the Neighbours. It became the first Canadian album to top the British charts since Neil Young’s Harvest way back in 1972. Waking Up the Neighbours included Adams’ biggest international hit, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You“. The song, featured in the Hollywood movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, not only topped the singles charts in a number of countries around the world, it became the biggest song of the year in many of them. Adams has scored some 37 Top 40 singles and won 17 JUNO awards. Simply put, he is perhaps the most successful Canadian male solo artist of all-time.
Bryan will be touring Canada in a few months. Today he put up a good quality music video for “Tonight in Babylon”, a collaboration with DJ trance group Loverush UK. For your convenience, we’ve embedded the video below. And, my gosh it’s good!
1. Ottawa’s emerging CRMA-nominated country star Kira Isabella sang the national anthem to open the Sens vs. Leafs game last night. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better performance. Given the cheers of the crowd, I think most would agree that it was absolutely sensational. You can watch Kira’s performance HERE.
2. Vancouver’s emerging rock ‘n roll star Stef Lang has released a new single, “Paper Doll” and has generously offered it as a FREE download HERE. She has announced a nation-wide tour that will commence at the end of March. You can view a tentative list of dates HERE.
3. Avril Lavigne has completed two nights of performances at Tokyo’s Saitama Super Arena as she launches the final leg of her Black Star Tour. Japan is the second largest music market in the world and the Japanese are among her most avid fans. Three of Avril’s albums have been certified DIAMOND in Japan. She has released a snippet video of her concert, a tour-de-force a capella performance. You can watch it HERE. While in Tokyo, the pop punk princess tried her hand at taiko drumming: video HERE.
4. Bryan Adams will be on tour in Japan soon. He’ll tour Europe in March and Canada starting in April. We’ll post more info on his Canadian concert tour later on.
5. Mia Martina, the sultry voice behind “Stereo Love”, “Latin Moon”, and “Burning” will be touring the major cities in western Canada very soon:
Feb 14: Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver
Feb 15: Back Alley, Calgary
Feb 16: Treasury Vodka Bar & Eatery, Edmonton
Feb 17: Fame Night Club, Winnipeg
Early February 1993, I had been in Guyana for nearly a year helping out with a literacy project and became extremely ill with typhoid fever. I travelled from New Amsterdam to Georgetown to see a doctor. While waiting to cross the coastal highway, a truck stopped, pulling over slightly towards the curb. I began to cross. Delirious with the illness, the sound of a horn did not seem to be real. The truck had pulled over: why would it be honking at me? But the volume of the horn increased. As it turned out, the large truck had stopped to allow a smaller, faster truck to pass it, and this smaller vehicle was now but several metres away from me refusing to put on the brakes. I had seconds to dart out of the way and was so weak with the typhoid that I didn’t know if I could. It was like a moment when you are given a choice: let it end now or carry on with life. Obviously I chose the second option and managed to leap forward out of the way.
After picking up some chloramphenicol, in a miserable state, and very homesick, I hopped onto a so-called mini-bus (15-seater van used like a taxi). These vans are notorious for having the latest car stereo system. The drivers usually crank up the volume ignoring complaints from the passengers and play the raunchiest reggae music imaginable. But this time something magical happened. As the mini-bus pulled out of the car park, a song came over the speakers that was sung by someone from my hometown of North Vancouver, BC. I had to fight back the tears. That song was Bryan Adams “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You“. I think it was a more effective cure than the chloramphenicol.
Adams co-wrote the song with Michael Kamen and Robert John “Mutt” Lange and it was featured on the soundtrack of the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. “I Do It for You” was a #1 single all over the world, selling 10 million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles of all-time. In Canada it was the biggest song of the year. A Canadian artist scoring the #1 song of the year had not happened since Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender” in 1985. It’s one of the Canadian Music Blog’s favourite songs of all-time by a Canadian artist.
By the way, thank you Bryan for saving me.
Look into my eyes – you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart – search your soul
And when you find me there you’ll search no more
Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
You can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for
You know it’s true
Everything I do – I do it for you
Look into your heart – you will find
There’s nothin’ there to hide
Take me as I am – take my life
I would give it all – I would sacrifice
Don’t tell me it’s not worth fightin’ for
I can’t help it – there’s nothin’ I want more
Ya know it’s true
Everything I do – I do it for you
There’s no love – like your love
And no other – could give more love
There’s nowhere – unless you’re there
All the time – all the way
Oh – you can’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
I can’t help it – there’s nothin’ I want more
I would fight for you – I’d lie for you
Walk the wire for you – ya I’d die for you
Ya know it’s true
Everything I do – I do it for you
Song: “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”
Album: Waking Up the Neighbours
Artist: Bryan Adams
Origin: North Vancouver
Notable Canadian band manager Bruce Allen organized a project to record a charity single for African famine relief in response to Britain’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Jim Vallance in an interview told the story of how things came together in writing and recording the song “Tears Are Not Enough” sung by a supergroup of Canadian artists called Northern Lights.
…in 1985, David [Foster] returned to Vancouver for a year. He and his wife Rebecca bought a house in the same neighbourhood where Bryan Adams and I lived, but we didn’t see much of them. One day I ran into David in the lobby of Little Mountain Sound Studio, where he was producing an album for Paul Hyde and Bob Rock’s group, The Payolas. He approached me in a panic and said, “You have a home studio, right?” I replied that I did.
Visibly excited, David told me he’d just got off the phone with Quincy Jones, who’d just finished recording a Michael Jackson / Lionel Ritchie song for African famine relief called “We Are The World”. Quincy played the song for David over the phone, and said he wanted David to record a Canadian song for Africa — and it had to be finished in the next week or two so it could be included on the U.S. album release!
“We Are The World” was written in response to Bob Geldoff’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, recorded and released the year before (1984). Geldoff’s song raised millions of dollars for Africa, and had already made a significant difference to those suffering from drought and famine. Quincy hoped that a Canadian song might help make a difference too.
David already had a melody, borrowed from a song he’d been working on, and he had a title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which had been provided by Paul Hyde and Bob Rock. It was nearly twenty years later (2004) when I finally heard the story behind the “title”:
Paul and Bob had been in the studio with Foster on the day that Quincy Jones called. Several weeks earlier they’d written a song called “Tears Are Not Enough”, and after the call from Quincy they played their song for David, thinking it might be suitable for the Famine Relief recording. “So, what do you think?” they asked, when they’d finished presenting the song. “Nice title”, David replied.
The next morning (Friday, February 1, 1985) David arrived at my home studio. He played me his melody on the piano. It was a pretty ballad with an interesting, circular chord progression. He also mentioned Paul and Bob’s title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which I thought was excellent.
With the melody and the title we had enough to get started, so began recording the track right away. Using his Emulator synthesizer David laid down a piano, followed by a Moog bass, then a bell sound. I added drums and percussion. An hour or two later we had a “basic track” (it was only intended to be a quick “demo” recording, but it worked so well we ended up using it for the final recording).
Then we started working on the lyrics:
We can close the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t you know that tears are not enough
It was a good start, but David had to rush away for a session with The Payolas, promising to return the following day. I continued work on the lyrics while my wife Rachel [Paiement] wrote a few lines in French — after all, it was a Canadian song for Africa!
The next day Bryan Adams arrived from Los Angeles and hurried over to help. He looked at the lyrics I’d written so far and immediately suggested an improvement. “How about ‘we can BRIDGE the distance’?”, he said. It was perfect, and with that we were off and running.
We finished the lyric later that evening, then Bryan and Rachel recorded the vocals. The demo was completed at 4:00 a.m. the next morning.
Meanwhile, David enlisted Bryan’s manager Bruce Allen to help assemble a roster of performers. Bruce was well-connected in the music industry, and in quick succession Joni Mitchell and Neil Young agreed to participate. Then Kim Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Burton Cummings came on board, and so did Geddy Lee and Corey Hart.
Comedians John Candy and Catherine O’Hara offered their services, along with legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer. Dan Hill, Jane Sibbery, Sylvia Tyson, Robert Charlebois … the list of participants grew by the hour.
I suggested we record the vocals at Manta Studios [in Toronto], where I’d recorded Bryan Adams’ first album (and also Barney Bentall, Lisa Dal Bello and Cano). The room was big enough to accommodate a large group, and I also knew that veteran engineer Hayward Parrott could handle the complex task of recording 30 soloists … plus a chorus of 50!
Michael Godin (A&M Records) contacted Manta owner Andy Hermant, who generously donated the studio. On Saturday (February 9, 1985) we flew to Toronto to prepare for the mammoth recording session planned for the following day.
During the flight we reviewed the lyric sheet and the list of artists and determined who would sing which line. We decided the song should begin with Canadian legend Gordon Lightfoot (“As everyday goes by …”), then move to Burton Cummings (“How can we close our eyes …”), then to Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, and so on.
The session took place on Sunday, February 10, 1985. It was a bitter cold day, but hundreds of fans gathered outside Manta to watch the “stars” arrive. Gordon Lightfoot drove himself to the studio in a pick-up truck. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell arrived by taxi. Platinum Blonde arrived in a white stretch limo.
Just as Quincy Jones had done in Los Angeles, Foster taped a poster in the studio lobby that said, “Leave your egos at the door”. Everyone gave 200 percent, and at the end of the day we had the makings of a magical record.
One of the funniest moments happened during Neil Young’s performance. He’d sung his line once or twice already, but Foster still wasn’t happy and asked Neil to try again. When Neil asked why, David told him he was out of tune. “That’s my style, man”, Neil shot back.
For me, one of the highlights was sitting on the studio floor a few feet from Joni Mitchell while she carved graceful lines in the air with her hands as she sang. Another special moment was meeting Richard Manuel, singer and pianist for “The Band”. In fact, Joni Mitchell and “The Band” are two of my biggest musical influences. I was in “fan heaven”, meeting them and hearing them sing lyrics I’d written!
After completing the vocal session in Toronto, David and I returned to Vancouver and booked time at Pinewood Studios and Little Mountain Sound where more instruments were added to the track, including Loverboy’s Doug Johnson and Paul Dean, who contributed keyboards and guitar. Steven Denroche, a member of the Vancouver Symphony, was called in to play French Horn…
One important Canadian artist unable to attend the Toronto recording session was Bruce Cockburn, who was performing in Germany at the time. Cockburn ‘s manager, Bernie Finkelstein, wondered if there wasn’t a way Bruce could record his vocal at a studio in Germany and have it edited into the finished product at a later date. It was a nice idea, but to meet our deadline Bruce’s contribution would have to be filmed and recorded sometime in the next 48 hours. In a moment of weakness I volunteered to fly to Germany!
The good news is, Air Canada provided a free ticket. The bad news is, there were no direct fights — so I had to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to London, London to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Hamburg … a 44-hour round-trip. I arrived in Hamburg just in time to catch Bruce’s performance at a club on Tuesday evening. I met him backstage, for the first time, after the show.
I’d brought a cassette tape of the song, which Bruce hadn’t heard yet. But before I could even play the tape, Bruce dropped a bomb. He said he hadn’t yet decided if he wanted to participate in the project!
Bernie had neglected to tell me that Bruce hadn’t made up his mind yet — and I’d just spent 22 hours on a #$&@ airplane! In my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged stupor my first reaction was to reach across the table and grab Bruce by the throat with both hands. Instead, I used every ounce of diplomacy I could muster. I told Bruce how magical the session in Toronto had been … how it was truly a special project, and that everyone was looking forward to his involvement, which was true!
Bruce eventually came around, and he agreed to meet me at a Hamburg recording studio the following morning. It took less than an hour to complete Bruce’s audio and video recording, then it was back to the airport for the 22-hour return flight to Vancouver (via Frankfurt, London and Toronto).
I met one of the film people at the airport in Toronto during my two-hour lay-over, and I handed him the Cockburn footage to edit into the video. After spending a much-needed night in my own bed in Vancouver, I flew to Los Angeles the next morning to deliver Bruce’s audio track. Foster and his assistant Chris Earthy met me at the airport, and we rushed over to Kenny Roger’s “Lion’s Share” studio where Cockburn’s vocal was edited into the audio mix that engineer Humberto Gatica had nearly completed.
“Tears Are Not Enough” reached #1 on the Canadian charts and helped raise more than $3-million for African Famine Relief.
Lyrics and Vocalists
As every day goes by, how can we close our eyes (Gordon Lightfoot)
Until we open up our hearts (Burton Cummings)
We can learn to share and show how much we care (Anne Murray)
Right from the moment that we start (Joni Mitchell)
Seems like overnight, we see the world in a different light (Dan Hill)
Somehow our innocence is lost (Neil Young)
How can we look away, ’cause every single day (Bryan Adams)
We’ve got to help at any cost (Liberty Silver and Loverboy’s Mike Reno)
Chorus (sung by the nine singers above):
We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough
If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough
It’s up to me and you to make the dream come true (Carroll Baker, Ronnie Hawkins, and Murray McLauchlan)
It’s time to take our message everywhere (Corey Hart)
C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
d’ici a l’autre bout du monde (Véronique Béliveau, Robert Charlebois, and Claude Dubois)
Let’s show them Canada still cares (Bruce Cockburn)
You know that we’ll be there (Rush’s Geddy Lee)
(Chorus – all 18 singers above)
And if we could try (Bryan Adams and Don Gerrard)
Together you and I (All 44 Singers)
Maybe we could understand the reasons why (Zappacosta and Dalbello)
If we take a stand (Rough Trade’s Carole Pope and The Payola$ Paul Hyde)
Every woman, child and man (Salome Bey, Platinum Blonde’s Mark Holmes, and The Parachute Club’s Lorraine Segato)
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand (Loverboy’s Mike Reno)
(Chorus – all the above singers plus Paul Anka, Liona Boyd, actor John Candy, Tom Cochrane, Tommy Hunter, Martha Johnson (M+M), actor Eugene Levy, pop pianist Frank Mills, Kim Mitchell, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer, Jane Siberry, Sylvia Tyson (Ian & Sylvia), dj Barry Harris, actress Catherine O’Hara, and Wayne St. John)
The “Tears Are Not Enough” project was one of the finest moments in Canadian music history.
Les Yeux de la Faim
It didn’t receive much attention outside of Quebec but Francophone artists banded together to record an additional charity single for African famine relief. Celine Dion, Rene & Nathalie Simard and others lent their voices to the beautiful “Les Yeux de la Faim“.
In the two years following 1984’s dry spell, a total of 50 songs from Canadian artists made the weekly Top 30 National RPM Singles Chart. 1985 was the year that changed everything. Fifteen Canadian artists had Top 30 hits through the year. There were 14 Canadian songs in the year-end Top 100, and the biggest song of the year was Canadian. The year saw three Canadian songs top the charts. And it was the year that witnessed the very first Canadian album certified Diamond. Perhaps the highlight was the coming together of all major Canadian artists to record a charity single for African famine relief. Although the whirlwind that created a swelling of Canadian pride eased up a bit in 1986, it was still a strong year for Canadian music. The RPM Top 100 Year-End Album Charts saw 11 from Canadian artists in 1985 and a dozen in 1986.
At the end of October, 1984, Bryan Adams released his album Reckless and its first single “Run to You”. For some reason, it took some time for the song to climb up the charts, finally cracking the Top 10 on January 12th, 1985. From there, everything snowballed. The album which spawned several additional hits became certified Diamond (1 million copies sold in a country of nearly 26 million at the time) on December 17th. But that wasn’t the only big album that year. Corey Hart released Boy in the Box in mid-June. “Never Surrender” topped the charts and became the biggest song of the year. “Everything in My Heart” was a #1 hit as well (in 1986). And the album became the second in history to attain Diamond sales. Canadian pride soared and the Junos the following year drew a huge audience to see “Never Surrender” win Song of the Year and Reckless win Best Album. Adams and Hart had become national treasures and were the musical heroes that captivated the hearts of the nation.
Canadian artists responded to Bob Geldof’s work with uniting British artists to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to help relieve drought-ridden famine in Ethiopia. They came together as Northern Lights and recorded “Tears Are Not Enough”, another number one single in Canada. We’ll do a special feature on the song in a bit.
Bryan Adams and Corey Hart were not the only names in male singers that year. Scottish-born Torontonian (Lawrence) Gowan scored a #5 hit with “Criminal Mind” from his Strange Animal album (which matched the peak chart position on the album charts). Claude Dubois had a big hit with “Un Chanteur Chant“. Gino Vannelli’s “Black Cars” landed in the Top 5 and his “Huts to Be in Love” the Top 20. Composer and producer David Foster worked heavily on the St. Elmo’s Fire film and his instrumental Love Theme was a Top 10 hit. Paul Janz had his first hit, “Go to Pieces” (#29).
Outside of La Belle Province, the women were nowhere to be heard in ’85, aside from more alternative artists like the creative Jane Siberry (“One More Colour”). Luba made some headways but became a bigger name the following year. The most successful female was Martine St. Clair with her mega-hit “Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux”, song of the year winner at the Felix Awards and so irresistible that it was even nominated for a Juno, despite their reputation for snubbing French language music. Nicole Martin’s “Il est en nous l’amour” was nominated for a Felix.
1985 saw the emergence of some huge rock bands, the most notable of which was Platinum Blonde. “Crying over You” was a #1 hit as was their album Alien Shores. Their “Situation Critical” made the Top 10. Vancouver new wave outfit “Strange Advance” scored a minor hit as did Paul Hyde and the Payola$ and newcomers Honeymoon Suite. The latter did better with album sales than hit singles, but nevertheless, scored a Top 10 hit in 1988 with “Love Changes Everything”. Loverboy had a Top 20 hit with “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and one-hit wonders Idle Eyes with “Tokyo Rose”, but the Parachute Club’s “At the Feet of the Moon” was the most successful, coming just shy of the Top 10. Offenbach and Madame had hits in Québec.
Corey Hart was quick to follow up his Diamond album with Fields of Fire in 1986. The first single “I Am by Your Side” peaked at #12 on the RPM charts, while his cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” topped the charts in early ’87. The year, however, belonged to Glass Tiger. Their “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” was a number one hit, the 4th biggest of the year and nabbed the Juno Award for Song of the Year. Their 4x Platinum album The Thin Red Line churned out three more hits, all of which broke into the Top 20. A third release came off of Platinum Blonde’s Alien Shores album which was a good thing because it became their only hit south of the border. The song was “Somebody Somewhere”. Honeymoon Suite released a new album—The Big Prize—which spawned two hits that did equally well. The Parachute Club and M+M scored minor hits with “Love Is Fire” and “Song in my Head” respectively. Loverboy’s song “Heaven in your Eyes”, from the Top Gun soundtrack, did moderately well.
There were some newcomers in 1986. Ottawa duo One to One scored a pair of hits from their Forward Your Emotions album. Springing from Talent Quest, Cats Can Fly’s synth-pop “Flippin’ to the ‘A’ Side” peaked at #16. Another synth ensemble—Chalk Circle—came out with “April Fool” that just squeaked into the Top 100 songs of the year. PEI’s Haywire scored with “Bad Bad Boy” and The Partland Brothers (Chris and G.P.) with “Soul City”. Nuance’s “Vivre dans la nuit” sold 70,000 copies and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Junos. Perhaps the most significant addition to 80s bands was Men Without Hats’ new wave spinoff band The Box (“L’affaire Dumoutier”).
Anne Murray crossed over into pop/rock with a comeback hit – “Now and Forever (You and Me)” and Luba became a household name with “How Many (Rivers to Cross)”. Jano Bergeron’s “Recherche” was nominated for a Felix Award. Having departed the band Corbeau, lead singer Marjo embarked on a very successful solo career and won the Félix Song of the Year with “Chats sauvages”. David Foster teamed up with English-Australian diva Olivia Newton-John in “The Best of Me”.
“Je voudrais voir New York” was a hit for Daniel Lavoie. Patrick Norman had a stellar year thanks to “Quand on est en amour”. Max Webster’s lead singer Kim Mitchell scored a hit as a soloist called “Patio Lanterns”. And Red Rider’s front man began veering away from the group to lead an even more successful solo career; Tom Cochrane scored a minor hit with “Boy Inside the Man”.
Forthcoming will be a list of Canadian hit singles and albums on the RPM charts in 1985-86; an entry with mini-profiles on semi-major acts The Box, Paul Janz, Haywire, Honeymoon Suite, Luba, Kim Mitchell, Patrick Norman, and Platinum Blonde; a special feature on the making of the “Tears Are Not Enough” charity single; and separate feature profiles on major artists David Foster, Glass Tiger, Gowan, and Marjo.
Born: 1959, Kingston, ON
Genre: Pop, Rock
- 2 Diamond Albums (1 million copies sold in Canada)
– 1st Canadian artist to score a Diamond album (1985): Reckless
– 18 Juno Awards including Male Artist of the Year 7 times and Album of the Year twice
– Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame (1998)
– Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2011)
– Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2006)
– 37 Top 40 Singles, including 18 Top 10, 9 of which were #1
– 2nd Canadian artist in history to have a #1 album in Britain
“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You“ (1991)
- #1 Hit in 30 countries including Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.
– #1 Song of the Year in the U.S. Billboard Chart, Canadian RPM chart, and UK Singles chart
– Spent 16 weeks at #1 on the UK Singles Chart – a British chart record
– Became the 2nd best-selling single of all-time in the U.S.
– Written for the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
– Best Song Written for a Motion Picture Grammy Award winner
Studio Albums and Hit Singles
1980: Bryan Adams
1981: You Want It You Got It
- Certified Gold
– Hit Singles: “Fits Ya Good” (#30)
1983: Cuts Like a Knife
- #8 in both Canada and the U.S.
– Certified 3x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Straight from the Heart” (#20 CAN; #10 U.S.), “Cuts Like a Knife” (#12 CAN; #15 U.S.), “This Time” (#32 CAN; #24 U.S.)
- #1 in both Canada and the U.S.
– Certified Diamond
– Hit Singles: “Run to You” (#4 CAN; #6 U.S.), “Summer of ’69” (#11 CAN; #4 Netherlands), “Heaven” (#11 CAN; #1 U.S.), “Somebody” (#13 CAN; #11 U.S.), “One Night Love Affair” (#19 CAN; #13 U.S.), “It’s Only Love” (-with Tina Turner- #14 CAN; #15 U.S.)
1987: Into the Fire
- #2 in Canada; #3 in Sweden
– Certified 3x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Heat of the Night” (#7 CAN; #5 Norway), “Hearts on Fire” (#25 CAN; #26 U.S.), “Victim of Love” (#32 U.S.)
1991: Waking Up the Neighbours
- #1 in many countries around the world including Canada, the U.K., and Germany
– Certified Diamond
– 2nd album from a Canadian artist to top the British charts
– 16 million copies sold worldwide
– Hit Singles: “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (#1 in 30 countries around the world), “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” (#1 CAN; #2 U.S.), “There Will Never Be Another Tonight” (#2 CAN; #11 Ireland), “Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven” (#1 CAN; #8 U.K.), “All I Want Is You” (#20 Ireland; #22 U.K.), “Do I Have to Say the Words?” (#2 CAN; #11 U.S.), “Touch the Hand” (#37 CAN)
1996: 18 til I Die
- #4 in Canada; #1 in the U.K.
– Certified 3x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You” (#4 CAN; #5 U.K.), “Let’s Make a Night to Remember” (#1 CAN; #9 U.K.), “I’ll Always Be Right There” (#14 CAN), “Star” (#12 U.K.), “18 til I Die” (#21 CAN and U.K.), “Do To You” (#6 CAN)
1998: On a Day Like Today
- #3 in Canada; #2 in Switzerland
– Certified 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “On a Day Like Today” (#1 CAN; #11 U.K.), When You’re Gone”(-with Melanie C- #13 CAN; #2 U.K.), “Cloud Number Nine” (#7 CAN; #5 U.K.)
2004: Room Service
- #2 in Canada; #1 in Germany
– Certified Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Open Road” (#17 SWI; #21 U.K.), “Flying” (#9 BEL), “Room Service” (#13 BEL)
- #1 in Canada and Switzerland
– Hit Singles: “I Thought I’d Seen Everything” (#40 BEL)
Other Hit Singles
“Let Me Take You Dancing” (1979)
- First Hit Single
– #18 in Canada
“Please Forgive Me” (1993)
- From Greatest Hits Compilation So Far So Good
– #1 in Canada, Ireland, and Norway
“All for Love” (-with Rod Stewart and Sting- 1993)
- From the movie The Three Musketeers
– #1 in several countries including Canada and the U.S.
“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” (1995)
- From the movie Don Juan DeMarco
– #1 in several countries including Canada and the U.S.
“Rock Steady” (- with Bonnie Raitt- 1995)
- From Bonnie Raitt’s live album Road Tested
– #17 in Canada
“I Finally Found Someone” (-with Barbra Streisand- 1997)
- From the film The Mirror Has Two Faces
– #18 in Canada and #1 in Ireland
“Back to You” (1997)
- From live MTV Unplugged album
– #1 in Canada and #17 in the U.K.
“I’m Ready” (1997 version)
- From live MTV Unplugged album
– #11 in Canada and #19 in the U.K.
“The Best of Me” (1999)
- From Greatest Hits album The Best of Me
– #10 in Canada and #31 in Switzerland
“Don’t Give Up” (-Chicane featuring Bryan Adams- 2000)
- From Chicane’s album Behind the Sun
– #9 in Canada and #1 in the U.K.
“Here I Am” (2002)
- From the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron soundtrack
– #5 in the U.K. and #12 in Austria
Bryan Adams’ blue-collar image—typically, a [white] T-shirt and jeans—mirrored the hard-working values of his music, a straightforward style of rock and roll. His writing with Jim Vallance reflected superior craftmanship; the sentimental themes of Adams’ songs to the mid-1980s – love, love lost, loneliness – were unsentimentally sung in a voice characterized by a raspy urgency.
— Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
From every standpoint, Bryan Adams is the most successful male pop star in Canadian history.
Childhood and Youth
Bryan Adams was born in Kingston, Ontario in 1959 but spent most of his childhood travelling, as his father was a diplomat. This brought him to his parents’ native England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. When he was 14, his parents split up and his mother took him and his little brother to settle in North Vancouver. Adams recalls becoming attracted to rock and roll when hearing the Beatles on the ferry while crossing the English Channel. He worked as a dishwasher saving up enough money to buy a Fender guitar and began auditioning as a band guitarist. After several rejections, he put together his own band who practised in his mother’s rented basement. They performed around the Vancouver nightclub circuit.
Bryan quit school to give him more time to pursue his musical career and spent the money his parents had saved for his university tuition to buy a piano. In the summer of 1976, just after the success of Sweeney Todd’s “Roxy Roller”, lead singer Nick Gilder departed for a solo career. Bryan Adams approached the band and convinced them, in a single audition, that he was fit to be Gilder’s replacement. He went into the studio and the band recorded their second album If Wishes Were Horses, Adams co-writing three songs for the album. Constant touring in confined vehicles strained the relationship Adams had with the band, and he quit at the end of 1977.
In January 1978, Adams was in a music store and a mutual friend introduced him to Prism’s drummer Jim Vallance. Vallance had used the pseudonym “Rodney Higgs” with the band for fear that, if the band had been unsuccessful, he would never be able to secure his own recording contract, something he was trying to do on the side by writing his own songs. Bryan and Jim hit it off immediately and began writing songs together. The first song they wrote was “Don’t Turn Me Away”. Their collaboration bore fruit in securing a one-dollar recording contract for Adams with A&M Records via a demo tape.
Bryan’s first hit was “Let Me Take You Dancing” which made the Top 20 and received extensive airplay in Vancouver. Adams used this success to go after the most prestigious local manager in the business—Bruce Allen. Adams and Vallance wrote songs for Allen’s clients Prism (“Jealousy”, “You Walked Away Again”, “Take It or Leave It”) and Loverboy (“Jump”) and Allen finally accepted managing Adams.
In 1980, Adams released his first (self-titled) album which sold respectfully though not as well as they had hoped. Adams began touring with Remote Control—the embryonic Strange Advance. His sophomore effort, You Want It You Got It, did better (going Gold), spawning the Top 30 hit “Fits Ya Good”. Adams and Vallance were asked, as a result of their burgeoning success, to assist Kiss with their song-writing for the band’s 1982 album Creatures of the Night. They co-wrote “Rock and Roll Hell” and “War Machine” with Gene Simmons.
At some point along the way, Adams decided to change his singing from a higher-pitched, smooth style to a more gravelly, gruff voice.
Adams and Vallance were encouraged by their growing success but really yearned for a big breakthrough. They knew they needed to write very catchy songs. One day, they sat down together to write a new song. One of the pair threw out the line “Cuts like a knife” and the other returned “And it feels so right”. Adams has stated in interviews that this was the defining moment in his career, the master key that unlocked the doors to superstardom.
Release of his third album Cuts Like a Knife resulted in Adams long sought-after breakthrough in 1983. Three Top 30 singles followed, one of which, “Straight from the Heart”, made the Top 10 on the American Billboard charts. He also got his foot in the door in Europe, as “This Time” made the Top 30 in Ireland. The album was certified Platinum in the U.S. and 3x Platinum in Canada. Adams opened for Journey in the U.S.
Anticipation was high for Bryan Adams’ next album. A&M made the decision to release simultaneously a video package with the album, something that had never been done before in the music industry. Tina Turner was brought on for a duet on one of the tracks. Reckless was released around Halloween in 1984 and the first single “Run to You” scaled up the charts, breaking into the Top 10 in Canada, the U.S., and Ireland. It was nominated for the Song of the Year Juno Award. Power-ballad “Heaven” did better outside of Canada where it peaked at #11, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Charts, #2 in Norway, and cracking the Top 10 in Ireland and Sweden. Heartland rocker “Summer of ’69” made the Top 5 in the U.S. and Netherlands. Three more singles made the Top 20. The result of all this was that, on December 17th, 1985, Reckless became the first album from a Canadian artist to attain Diamond status in Canada, meaning that it had sold 1 million copies domestically. The population of Canada at the time was close to 26 million, meaning that 1 in 26 babies, children, youth, adults, and seniors bought the album. Reckless went 5x Platinum south of the border (sales in excess of 5 million), sold 13 million copies worldwide, and nabbed the Juno Award for Album of the Year.
Adams went on a world tour headlining sold-out concerts in the U.S., Japan, Australia, Europe, and then a homecoming concert in Canada, finishing off in his city of Vancouver.
Bruce Allen asked Adams and Vallance to join Canadian producer / composer David Foster in writing a Canadian response to Britain’s Band-Aid charity single for famine-relief in drought-ridden Africa. Prominent Canadian artists formed the singing group Northern Lights and recorded the #1 hit “Tears Are Not Enough”. (More on that later). Bryan Adams was one of the performers at the historic Live Aid concert in Philadelphia (USA). Newly-formed Canadian band Glass Tiger asked Jim Vallance to produce their debut album and Adams to sing backing vocals on its lead single “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”, a #1 hit in Canada and #2 in the U.S. Bryan Adams was now a very busy man.
Rounding Out the ’80s
Adams knew that duplicating the success of Reckless would be somewhat elusive and decided, instead, to add more depth, creativity, and maturity to his fifth studio album. Into the Fire was released in 1987. It was a commercial success (though a far cry from Reckless’), met with critical acclaim, but created an atmosphere of confusion and alienated a number of his fans; a number of his follow-up concerts had to be cancelled due to lack of response. Into the Fire was a darker, more reflective album whose songs dealt with more weighty subjects than lost love and teenage infatuation. Adams sung about war and Aboriginal rights. Only two hit singles resulted: “Heat of the Night” and “Heart’s on Fire”. (“Victim of Love” was a minor hit in the U.S.).
Adams handled the criticism of a failure to duplicate his previous success well, but ultimately it led to his falling out with Jim Vallance. They recorded an album’s worth of material with Canadian producer Daniel Lanois (U2), but Adams was unhappy with the results and scrapped everything to start from scratch.
Surpassing Previous Success
Bryan Adams searched for a new song-writing partner and found one in Britain’s Robert John “Mutt” Lange (Def Leppard, AC/DC, Shania Twain). Lange took his time perfecting the album which did not get released until 1991. But the long wait paid off; it surpassed Adams’ previous success with Reckless, matching Diamond status in Canada and peaking at #1 in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden. It went on to sell 16 million copies worldwide. In another unknown piece of trivia, Waking up the Neighbours became the first album since Neil Young’s 1972 Harvest to top the album charts in Britain. Ironically, however, the album was launched in Canada amidst a storm of controversy.
The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) had introduced rules on Canadian content (often referred to as Cancon) designed to encourage Canadian artists to seek assistance at home rather than turning to foreign collaborators. The MAPL system required that two of the four in music, artists, production, and lyrics must be Canadian in order for a song or album to be considered Canadian. The rules meant that Adams’ new album Waking Up the Neighbours was not a Canadian album due to his collaboration with Lange. This infuriated the team working with Adams and was a big story in the press. The CRTC reconsidered and added a new provision to the rules: “The musical selection was performed live or recorded after September 1, 1991, and, in addition to meeting the criterion for either artist or production, a Canadian who has collaborated with a non-Canadian receives at least half of the credit for both music and lyrics.”
“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, written for the blockbuster movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, became one of the best-selling singles of all-time world-wide (the biggest for A&M) and broke a number of records; it became Adams’ biggest hit. With Adams’ switch to lighter arrangements from his previous rocking numbers, his popularity in Europe began to overtake the U.S. In fact, the United States was the only country in which Waking up the Neighbours sold less copies (4x Platinum) than Reckless. The album spawned six additional hit singles, two of which also topped the charts in Canada. Adams went on a world tour in support of the album. His concert at the Ritz Theatre in New York sold out in less than 20 minutes. At the end of the Canadian leg of the tour, he was welcomed home in Vancouver to a standing room only concert.
A Greatest Hits package was in order, and A&M Records released So Far So Good (6x Platinum). A new song appeared on the album: “Please Forgive Me”, an international Top 3 hit. In-between new album releases, Adams began appearing in hit singles for various motion pictures, most notably “All for Love” (with Rod Stewart and Sting) for The Three Musketeers and “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” for the Johnny Depp production Don Juan DeMarco.
With the growing popularity of dance music, hip hop, and R&B, Adams saw sales of his subsequent studio albums decrease and took the opportunity to pursue other projects. He had always had a passion for photography and began publishing picture books. He also became more heavily involved in humanitarian projects, promoting breast cancer research and educational opportunities for children.
Bryan Adams appeared at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, singing with Victoria pop star Nelly Furtado. The following year he announced the birth of his first child.
In the early 80s, dance music became less popular in the English-speaking world. It was to be reborn several years later. Punk rock whose appeal was confined for the most part to the United Kingdom morphed into new wave. The synthesizer, Bob Moog’s 1963 invention, had made appearances in rock throughout the 70s, but a number of British artists began experimenting with using the synthesizer as the lead and sometimes only instrument. This new electronic rock helped spawn a second British Invasion. Arguably, with acts like Images in Vogue, Strange Advance, Rational Youth, Blue Peter, Moev, The Spoons, and Rough Trade, Canada was more keen on developing synthesizer-driven pop than the United States. The most popular new wave act was perhaps Vancouver-based The Payola$.
With the new styles in music, radio was friendlier to some artists than to others. The so-called underground music scene became exceptionally popular as did college radio which picked up the slack. In order to help promote and recognize more experimental music, the CASBY awards were established in 1981 to honour excellence in independent or “alternative” music and artists.
Guitar-oriented new wave group Corbeau was somewhat successful in Québec. When it disbanded in 1984, female singer Marjo embarked on a solo career. Québec never grew tired of dance music. With the new interest in synthesizers, electronics were added to the genre care of acts like Trans X and the hugely successful Men Without Hats. English Canada experimented with dancier new wave and came up with male/female combo outfits like The Parachute Club and Martha and the Muffins, which later became known as M+M.
After new wave, the second most popular genre in the early 80s, which did not receive as much radio airplay, was heavy metal. A few artists in Canada dabbled in this, like Helix, Toronto, and Chilliwack spin-off The Headpins, and some combined electronics with hard rock, like Aldo Nova and supergroup Loverboy.
Curiously, a backlash against this new-fangled music emerged in parallel. A number of groups performing more traditional blues rose to prominence, the most notable of which were The Powder Blues Band, Doug and the Slugs, and a cappella group The Nylons. Medicine Hat (Alberta) risqué country band Showdown debuted in 1980 and Montréal fusion-jazz outfit UZEB in 1981. Scottish import Eric Robertson, a composer, pianist and organist scored a multi-platinum album entitled Magic Melodies.
A number of acts did not deviate from straight-forward pop: The Kings, Teenage Head, Straight Lines, Sheriff, and Red Rider (whom we’ll feature later in conjunction with front man Tom Cochrane’s solo career). But it was primarily the solo artists who performed mainstream pop and a few of them were to become the biggest names in Canadian music history.
Diane Tell (who also performed with aforementioned UZEB), Véronique Béliveau, and Martine Saint-Clair made headways in French Canada. René‘s little sister Nathalie Simard became a child star in the early 80s. In 1983, Céline Dion emerged and blew everyone in the province away. We’ll talk about her later when she achieved international superstardom.
In English Canada, debuts from women were notably absent during this period. For the men, however, it was a very different story. From Montréal, an English singer who liked to wear sunglasses at night released a sleeper hit album in 1983. No one knew just how popular he was to become by the middle of the decade. His name was Corey Hart. An ex-Sweeney Todd Vancouverite singer got some attention with his “Let Me Take You Dancing” in 1979. But, frustrated with his lack of big success, he teamed up with songwriter Jim Vallance, changed his singing style from smooth to gravelly, and released Cuts Like a Knife in early 1983. For Bryan Adams all hell broke loose, and he captivated the nation eventually becoming the most successful Canadian artist of all-time. The biggest male name in French songs was perhaps Manitoba-born Daniel Lavoie. Although he started out in the 70s, his popularity skyrocketed in the early 80s, and he garnered a few Félix Awards. In 1998, he teamed up with two other singers and released the third best-selling single of all time in France.
The best-selling albums during the period were those from Anne Murray, Loverboy, Ginette Reno, and the aforementioned Eric Robertson. Another big-seller was the novelty comedy record Bob & Doug McKenzie‘s Great White North responsible for a couple of hit songs, including the Geddy Lee (Rush) led “Take Off”.
It is also worth noting that, outside of Québec, which had a very productive year, significant Canadian music was practically non-existent in 1984. Sherry Kean scored a Top 20 hit with “I Want You Back” and Italy-born Zappacosta became known in some circles with his debut release. But no Canadian song made the weekly Top 10 in the RPM charts throughout the entire year. Furthermore, no Canadian song made the year-end CHUM chart, and the Juno Awards were delayed. What happened in 1985, however, was to more than make up for it.
With the ever-increasing popularity of music videos, Canada launched a national channel called MuchMusic at the end of August in 1984. Although criticized for focussing too much on music from and that appealed to Torontonians (where the station was based), and showcasing too much American-style black and Spanish music, it enabled a number of Canadian artists to gain exposure and make breakthroughs. Two years later, a French language version was aired called MusiquePlus.
MuchMusic was also criticized for airing too many movies, game and reality shows when most people tuned in to see the MVs. The channel responded to all the criticism by launching MuchMoreMusic in 1998 which played more MVs and music that appealed more to adult Canadians.
Eventually, MuchMusic replaced CBC’s Good Rockin’ Tonite which was broadcast from Vancouver.
Coming up, we’ll provide a list of significant Canadian songs in the early 80s, followed by a special feature on Bob & Doug McKenzie’s The Great White North album, and then mini-profiles on semi-major acts Martha and the Muffins, The Parachute Club, Martine St-Clair, and Toronto, and finally individual profiles on major artists Men Without Hats, The Payola$, Loverboy, Diane Tell, Véronique Béliveau, Corey Hart, Daniel Lavoie, and Bryan Adams.
While the early to mid 70s were bustling with popular Canadian acts, things had slowed down by the late-70s. There were perhaps three reasons for this. The first was that, while the rest of the world became swept up in disco fever, Canadian artists remained aloof from this genre of music with the odd exception like Patsy Gallant or the T.H.P. Orchestra. Coinciding with this was the decline in popularity of folk music, the style that had been Canada’s specialty. Furthermore, the big names in music were sliding into retirement. Things were to pick up and surpass previous prominence of Canuck music, however, in the 1980s, which saw the first Canadian album to be certified diamond.
The late-70s were in fact a crossroads of artists retiring and new ones emerging who didn’t skyrocket to prominence until the following decade. One of these was the rock band Rush. Though their debut came in 1974, they didn’t score a major hit until 1978′s “Closer to the Heart” and steadily rose to notoriety in the early 80s. Rush is one of the longest-lived and most popular Canadian rock bands. Though never scoring a lot of radio-played hit singles, they have remained a highly successful album-oriented act, as 13 of their studio albums have gone platinum. They are considered the fifth best-selling rock band in history internationally after The Beatles, Rolling Stones, KISS, and Aeorsmith respectively.
A band that often worked and co-wrote songs with Rush was Max Webster. They managed a Platinum album in 1979. In the 80s, member Kim Mitchell embarked on a solo career and did much better.
In terms of bands that scored hits, Vancouver’s Trooper was king in this period with ten Top 40 hits (3 more after 1979). Their album Hot Shots was the first Canadian album to go 4x Platinum in Canada. Toronto’s Triumph didn’t do as well, as their popularity remained mostly in eastern Canada where they scored the 1979 hit “Hold On” and “Magic Power” in 1981. But, unlike Trooper, they have managed to become inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Prism arguably faired better than Triumph with six platinum albums, two major hits (“Night to Remember” and “Young & Restless”), and Juno Award for Group of the Year in 1981. Regina’s Streetheart rose to fame with their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”. Randy Bachman, after his departure from B.T.O., formed a new band, Ironhorse. They released only two albums and scored one Top 30 hit: “Sweet Lui Louise”.
Other bands in this period were Harlequin and the new wave outfit Saga who managed several minor radio hits. Canada was heading into more progressive electronic rock thanks to Nash the Slash and FM.
Because they started out in Canada, it is worth mentioning the American band Heart. Sweeney Todd released the huge hit “Roxy Roller” but disbanded quickly, two of their members going solo. The first, Nick Gilder, scored a couple of huge hits, one being the biggest of the late-70s, but faded into obscurity after. The second, Bryan Adams, did not see success come as easily, but once he found his signature formula, he became the biggest Canadian solo artist of all-time. We will profile him in the 80s.
The biggest solo artist of the late-70s was former Guess Who front man Burton Cummings. His first hit was “Stand Tall” in 1976. Success came for Angèle Arsenault in 1977 with the multi-platinum album, Libre.
Though he debuted in 1970, folk-pop singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn‘s big breakthrough came in 1979 thanks to “Wondering Where the Lions Are”. Paul Piché‘s solo album went platinum the same year. Martin Stevens’ single “Love is in the Air” went gold while Claudja Barry‘s “Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes” went Platinum. Respected guitarist Pat Travers churned out some his best material during the late 70s. (Jerry) Doucette‘s debut release, Mama Let Him Play, earned platinum status. Bells’ former pianist Frank Mills released his “Music Box Dancer” instrumental, the sheet music of which has sold in excess of 3 million copies. Diane Tell and Véronique Béliveau both released debut albums in 1977. They became highly successful in the 80s, and we will take a look at them later.
Number One singles in the late 70s were Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, Burton Cummings’ “Stand Tall”, Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”, Anne Murray’s “You Needed Me” and “I Just Fall in Love Again”, and Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop”. Nick Gilder departed from Sweeny Todd after their Number One smash “Roxy Roller”, and came out with the biggest Canadian song of the late-70s: “Hot Child in the City”, 7th biggest song of the year 1978 according to CHUM FM. “The Theme from S.W.A.T.” by the T.H.P. Orchestra, which earned them the Most Promising Group of the Year Juno in 1977, was also a number one single. Patsy Gallant’s “Sugar Daddy” won the Song of the Year Juno in 1978. Pianist André Gagnon took home the Album of the Year Juno in 1978 for his Neiges, breaking B.T.O.’s three-year streak in the category.
Outside the realm of pop, some big names at this time: celebrated jazz trombonist Rob McConnell, classical pianist and composer André Gagnon, Nova Scotian female country singer Carroll Baker, earthy folk singer Stan Rogers, and hugely successful children’s music trio Sharon, Lois & Bram.
In 1979, due to the Juno Awards’ lack of attention to fracophone artists, Quebec launched the Felix Awards. For more on this, click HERE.
Below are mini-profiles on Heart, Streetheart, Sweeney Todd, and Nick Gilder.
Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson who have hitherto sold over 30 million albums worldwide, started out in Vancouver, Canada, so we will take a brief look at them here.
In 1967, Roger Fisher formed a Seattle-based band called The Army that went through a number of personnel and name changes. In late-1970, Ann Wilson joined. Roger’s brother, Mike, was set to be recruited, against his will, into the army to fight in Vietnam. When he failed to show up for duty, American authorities raided his home. He jumped out of a rear window and escaped to freedom in Canada. The Americans labeled him a “Vietnam War Draft Dodger”.
One day in 1971, Mike snuck across the border back to the U.S. to visit family. There he met Ann Wilson and the two fell in love. This prompted Ann to follow Mike back into Canada. This led other band members to follow suit. They reformed in Vancouver, and changed their name to Heart. Ann’s sister Nancy joined in 1974 and began a love affair with Roger.
The band, augmented by some Canadian studio musicians (one of whom permanently joined the band as their drummer) released Dreamboat Annie on Vancouver’s Mushroom Records label. Singles “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man” helped the album to eventually sell over a million copies.
In 1977, The American government returned to policies more in keeping with democracy and granted amnesty to Vietnam draft evaders. This led the band to break its contract with Mushroom and move back to Seattle.
This band from Regina, formed in 1977, is best known for their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” as well as “Action”, “What Kind of Love is This”, and “One More Time”. Four of their albums attained platinum status, one going multi-platinum. In 1980, they received the Juno Award for Most Promising Group of the Year. They disbanded in 1983.
Sweeney Todd / Nick Gilder
This glam rock band that formed in Vancouver in 1975, with Nick Gilder on vocals, scored the #1 hit “Roxy Roller” winning them a Juno Award for Best Single in 1977. Gilder quickly left the band after its success to pursue a solo career. He was replaced by Clark Perry, an arrangement that was short-lived, and Bryan Adams, then only 15 years old, took over on vocals. The band’s second album was finally released but was unsuccessful, resulting in Adams’ departure. Chris Booth took over on vocals but Sweeney Todd had, by then, run out of steam and disbanded before recording any further albums.
In the meantime, Nick Gilder, born in London, England in 1951, was enjoying a hugely successful solo career. His “Hot Child in the City” topped the charts for weeks and won the 1979 Juno for Single of the Year. It was the 7th biggest song of 1978 according to Toronto’s CHUM Radio. It performed equally well in the American Charts. Gilder’s “Here Comes the Night” made the Top 30 and “You Really Rock Me” the Top 40. In 1980, “Wild Ones (Feeling Electric)” and “Catch 22″ made the Top 30, but further success proved unattainable. He began composing for other artists, most notably Patty Smyth, Bette Midler, Joe Cocker, and Pat Benatar. In 1984, he co-wrote the song “The Warrior” for the band Scandal, which made the Top 10 in the U.S.