Tag Archives: The Stampeders
The biggest development in the Canadian music industry in the mid-70s was that the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) began to present various certification awards (gold, platinum, diamond, etc.) to albums and singles that attained sales of a defined number of units. Albums that sold 50,000 copies were certified “Gold”; 100,000 “Platinum”; 200,000 “2x Platinum”; 1 million, “Diamond”. On 1 August 1975, the first three Canadian albums were certified Platinum: Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Four Wheel Drive, Beau Dommage’s self-titled album, and Paul Anka’s Anka.
In the mid-70s, the world was being swept up in ABBA fever. Canadians were taken up in this whirlwind as well but another foreign band became Canada’s favourite and was by far more successful in Canada than in another other country. Its name was Supertramp. Canada’s love affair with Supertramp was to continue on well beyond its retirement in 1982. Two of the band’s albums were to reach diamond status. In terms of homegrown talent, the mid-70s was one of the most productive periods in Canadian music history. The biggest year of the decade for Canadian music was 1974. Three of the Top 10 songs of the year (including #1) were by Canadian artists. But let’s begin with 1973.
The two biggest Canadian songs of the year were “Last Song” by Edward Bear (#16) and “Danny’s Song” by Anne Murray (#50). The third biggest was by a short-lived outfit called Skylark (“Wildflower” – #52). The most significant thing about this Vancouver-based band was that one of its members went on to become an internationally famous music producer and composer, responsible for smash hits from such artists as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Chicago, Josh Groban, and many others. His name? David Foster. We will profile him later on in a special entry dedicated to Canadian music producers.
British-born Keith Hampshire never became a superstar but had two big hits in 1973: “Daytime Night-time” and his cover of Cat Stevens’ “First Cut is the Deepest”. Another import from the U.K. was Scottish-born Murray McLauchlan, one of the most significant folk singers of the 70s. He had a big hit in ’73: “Farmer’s Song”. New Brunswick’s French folk singer Edith Butler began composing her own material in 1973 and, with growing recognition (she won a number of awards) and popularity, she found her albums going gold in the 80s.
One-hit wonders duo Gary and Dave scored with “Could You Ever Love Me Again”. They were fairly popular in Europe but left the music business to become airline pilots. Another short-lived outfit was The Defranco Family, comprised of five Italian-Canadian siblings. Their debut single “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” reached #3 on the Billboard charts and sold 2 million copies. They were also successful with “Abra-Ca-Dabra” and “Save the Last Dance for Me”.
The real-life brother of hoser “Doug McKenzie” (eh), Ian Thomas got going with the hit “Painted Ladies” from his debut album. It reached #4 in Canada and #34 in the U.S. He’d started out in the band Tranquility Base at the turn of the decade. Several other Top 40 hits followed well into the 80s: “Liars”, “Coming Home”, “Hold On”, “Chains”, and “Levity”. We like “I Really Love You” (a 70s synthesizer ballad) and “Harmony”, both of which received radio airplay.
Chilliwack, named after a medium-sized city in British Columbia, grew out of a 60s band called The Collectors. They made the Top 10 in ’73 with “Lonesome Mary” and scored several more hits in the decade culminating in their and #1 hit in the early 80s: “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)”.
“We had joy. We had fun. We had seasons in the sun.” These words typified the year, and the song that housed them, after spending four months on the charts, was not only the biggest of the year but also of the decade; it sold 11 million copies worldwide making it one of the most successful singles of all-time. Previously, we’d mentioned The Poppy Family, consisting of a husband-wife duo who scored two big hits. After their divorce, the husband—Terry Jacks—embarked on a brief solo career, which yielded this one lone hit. It won a Juno Award two years in a row for best-selling single, resulting in Winnipegger Jacks himself being awarded with male artist of the year in 1974. After the success of “Seasons in the Sun”, Jacks moved on to producing for such artists as The Beach Boys, Nana Mouskouri, DOA, and the aforementioned Chilliwack.
The third biggest song of 1974 was Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” and the ninth was Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby”. Andy Kim and Joni Mitchell had big hits this year with “Rock Me Gently” and “Help Me” respectively.
The Guess Who scored a hit with “Clap for the Wolfman” (#68 of the year). As we’d mentioned, Randy Bachman had left the group. And what was good ol’ Randy up to? Forming his own band. The early 70s was a time of sappy, soft rock, which wasn’t for everyone. The last echoes of harder rock that had dominated the 60s faded out with the retirement of Creedence Clearwater Revival in ’72. But Randy Bachman picked up the slack that same year when he, with brothers and friends, formed Bachman-Turner Overdrive. They began recording in 1973 but it took a year before radio began airing their gearhead, workingman rock. Were they popular? You bet. Their rock anthem “Takin’ Care of Business” continues to be popular today and finished the year ’74 in 66th spot. They did even better with the song that launched arena rock, always a favourite at roller and skating rinks—”You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”—the 16th biggest song of the year.
Believe it or not, there were two bands whose albums outsold B.T.O.’s. Their names? Harmonium and Beau Dommage. Unlike B.T.0. they were each able to achieve multi-platinum certifications for a couple of albums. Three of Harmonium’s albums appear in Bob Mersereau’s “Top 100 Canadian Albums”.
Canadian news anchor Byron MacGregor read a newspaper editorial written by Gordon Sinclair about the United States which garnered such a huge response that he was asked to record “The Americans” over the soundtrack “America the Beautiful” performed by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The record became a big hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard singles chart and #1 in Canada. It finished the year ’74 in 67th place. It was re-released in 1979 after the Iran hostage crisis and in 2001 after the 9-11 Attacks. The recording has sold over 3 ½ million copies and all of his proceeds have been donated to The American Red Cross.
1974 was also the year that saw the debut from new age guitarist (one of the best in the world) Liona Boyd. Italian Montrealer Gino Vanelli realized his breakthrough with “People Gotta Move”. And Diane Juster, after becoming popular via performances of her songs by Julie Arel began to shine on her own.
Paul Anka, teamed up with Odia Coates, continued his comeback with three huge hits: “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (the biggest Canadian song of the year), “I Don’t Like To Sleep Alone”, and “(I Believe) There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love”. Bachman-Turner Overdrive also scored a hat trick with “Hey You” (2nd biggest Canuck tune of the year), “Roll On Down the Highway”, and “Quick Change Artist”. The Stampeders had two big hits: “New Orleans” and “Hit the Road Jack”. Quebec’s Michel Pagliaro scored an English hit with “What the Hell I Got”.
A newcomer that year was Hagood Hardy. “The Homecoming”, an easy listening tune of great beauty, was the third biggest Canadian hit of the year. Hardy was born in the U.S. as his mother was an American citizen. After studying at the University of Toronto, he played the vibraphone in jazz clubs before recording solo works. Later on, he scored the music for CBC-TV’s “Anne of Green Gables” series. Pianist Andre Gagnon came out with a winning album, Neiges. It became the first Canadian album to reach multi-platinum status in the country and won a Juno Award for Album of the Year. Children’s music got a big boost when Raffi released his debut album.
1975 also saw the debut of one of the most popular singers of the late-70s, Dan Hill. This year he scored a moderate hit; his “You Make Me Want to Be” broke into the Top 30.
By the 1970s, Canadians had had enough of their musicians taking the best of the nation’s music to the United States because they couldn’t earn a living at home. To discourage this, two significant building blocks in the development of the Canadian music industry were put in place. The first of these was the establishment of the Juno Awards. The televised annual ceremony, held amidst a gala of stars, gave out awards to the best in Canadian music.
The second, which has always been controversial, involved the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announcing new regulations governing Canadian broadcasting. The new rules required that 30% of the songs on playlists of Canada’s AM radio stations had to fulfill two of the following four characteristics: the music was composed by Canadians, the lyrics were written by Canadians, the music was arranged by Canadians, and the recording was produced by Canadians. The regulations were designed to compel radio stations to promote Canadian music.
Although some radio stations fulfilled the rules defiantly by playing the Canadian songs early in the morning or late at night, the new regulations allowed the Canadian music industry to really take off. The first artist to benefit from the new rules was Anne Murray whose song “Snowbird” became an international multi-million seller. With the groundbreaking international success of The Guess Who, a number of acts who’d been ignored by radio in the 60s saw breakthroughs in the 70s (Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Lighthouse, The Five Man Electrical Band, and The Bells). This precipitated what became known in the United States as the “Canadian Invasion”.
First and foremost was Anne Murray who would go on to sell over 54 million records worldwide becoming a national treasure. Second in rank was Diane Dufresne, the first francophone female rocker. Patsy Gallant emerged and released successful songs in both French and English. Country singer Renée Martel had three chart toppers from 1972-1973: “Un Amour Qui Ne Veut Pas Mourir”, “Partir Au Soleil”, and “Si On Pouvait Recommencer”. The other big country singer who began rising to fame and glory was Carroll Baker.
The men were more plentiful (haven’t things changed since the 90s!). First in rank would be Gordon Lightfoot. Although his debut came in 1962, his big (international) breakthrough came eight years later. Neil Young had finished dabbling with Buffalo Springfield and went solo. He was always more successful outside of Canada, especially in the U.S. And he had the first #1 album in Britain by a Canadian artist. Pianist André Gagnon rose to prominence as did Frank Mills after his departure from The Bells.
A number of other singers emerged, like R. Dean Taylor, whom American critics consider one of the most underrated acts ever to record under the Motown label. His “Indiana Wants Me”, which opened the decade, made the Top 5 south of the border, becoming one of the label’s first hits from a white artist. The following year, Taylor came out with “Gotta See Jane” which did even better in Canada, finishing as one of the biggest Top 40 hits of the year in his native Toronto.
Tex Lecor achieved international success with the Georges Langford song “Le Frigidaire”, which he, amazingly, recorded in five languages. The French version topped the charts in Quebec for five straight weeks in early ’72. His “Quand Ca Ne Tourne Pas Rond” also did well. Award-winning folk music came from Ottawa-native Valdy.
Donald Lautrec continued churning out French hits (he was the one who sang a French version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” called “Le Jour du dernier jour”). On Remembrance Day in 1972, Lautrec’s “Le Mur Derriere La Grange” peaked at #2 on the Montreal charts. 1972 also was a big year for Georges Dor. Not only did his “Pour La Musique” top the charts in Quebec, but CKAC radio designated Dor’s “La Manic” as the most popular song of the last fifty years.
The early 70s, like the late-60s, were dominated by The Guess Who, naturally. Their “American Woman” was the 2nd biggest Canadian tune of the whole decade and they had five additional songs that made the yearly Top 100. Perhaps the second most significant band of the period was April Wine with three huge hits that decade (and a couple in the early 80s). Bluesy Offenbach became a formidable force as well. Calgary‘s The Stampeders scored three major hits.
Lighthouse succeeded with “One Fine Morning” (1971) and “Pretty Lady” (1973). They won Juno Awards for Best Group of the Year in 1973 and ’74. The Five Man Electrical Band‘s “Signs” was the 22nd biggest song of the year in 1971 and they subsequently scored with “I’m a Stranger here” two years later. Original Caste scored two major hits in 1970: “Mr. Monday” and “One Tin Soldier”. They disbanded the following year.
There were a couple of one-hit wonder bands that appeared. The first of these was Mashmakhan. Their “As the Years Go By” was the 10th biggest hit of 1970. The following year, gospel-ish Ocean came out with the third most successful Canuck song of the decade: “Put Your Hand in the Hand”.
Before moving on to the big guns, below are mini-profiles of semi-major acts: Patsy Gallant, The Bells / Frank Mills, and The Stampeders.
These guys had originally formed in the mid-60s as the Calgarian sextet The Rebounds before reorganizing into a trio in 1968 Toronto. Their first charting single was “Carry Me” in 1971. Their follow-up, the same year, not only charted internationally but became one of the ten biggest Canadian songs of the decade—”Sweet City Woman”. It helped them garner Juno Award for Best Group of the year in 1972. Two major hits came in 1975: “New Orleans” and “Hit the Road Jack”.
Patsy was one of ten children who all sang in a family group, The Gallant Sisters. She began singing when she was five. In 1967, she started a solo career, appearing in TV commercials and variety shows. Her debut album appeared in 1970 and she became, not only one of the few Canadians to have hits in both official languages (English and French) but also one of the few successful Canadian disco artists later in the decade. Patsy Gallant’s “Tout Va Trop Vite” reached No. 3 on the Canadian French charts in 1972. Later in the decade she had huge success with “From New York to L.A.”, and her “Sugar Daddy” was the best-selling Canadian single of the year in 1978. She won the Juno Award for Best Female Singer of the Year in both 1977 and 1978.
The Bells / Frank Mills
The Bells were a Montreal outfit who debuted in 1968. But their first big hit came in 1971—”Stay Awhile”, the 27th biggest song of the year. Their “Fly Little White Dove, Fly” was nominated for a Juno. Pianist Frank Mills departed for a successful solo career performing instrumental piano pop. His first major hit, which faired much better in Canada (topping the charts) than the U.S., was “Love Me Love Me Love” in 1972. “Pretty Little Fool” followed that year. His huge international breakthrough, however, came in 1979 care of his album Music Box Dancer with two hit singles: its title-track and “Peter Piper”. The album reached #21 on the Billboard charts and its title-track reached #3.