Formed: 1985, Toronto
Jim Cuddy (lead vocals, guitar)
Greg Keelor (lead vocals, guitar)
Bazil Donovan (bass)
Cleave Anderson (drums to 1990)
Mark French (replaced Anderson to 1992)
Glenn Milchem (replaced French)
Bob Wiseman (keyboards to 1993)
James Gray (replaced Wiseman to 2006)
Bob Packwood (replaced Gray)
Kim Deschamps (pedal steel, 1992-2000)
Bob Egan (replaced Deschamps)
– 6 Multi-Platinum and 3 Platinum Studio Albums
– 19 Top 40 Singles, including 9 Top 10’s on the Pop Charts
– 6 Major Juno Awards
– Inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, 2012
– Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, 2009
Major Juno Awards
– Song of the Year “Try”, 1989
– Group of the Year 5 times: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, and 2008
Biggest Studio Album
Five Days in July, 1993 (6x Platinum)
“Til I Am Myself Again“, from the 1990 album Casino
– #3 on the Pop Charts, #1 on the Country Charts, #6 on the AC Charts
Studio Albums and Hit Singles
– 4x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Try” (#6 Weekly Peak; #48 Year-End), “Rose Coloured Glasses” (#40)
1988: Diamond Mine
– 3x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Diamond Mine” (#7 WP; #56 YE), “How Long” (#25)
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Til I Am Myself Again” (#3 WP; #43 YE), “Trust Yourself” (#13), “What Am I Doing Here” (#33), “After the Rain” (#30)
1992: Lost Together
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Lost Together” (#3 WP; n/a YE), “Rain Down On Me” (#11 WP; #60 YE), “Already Gone” (#33)
1993: Five Days in July
– 6x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “5 Days in May” (#4 WP; #42 YE), “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” (#8 WP; #53 YE), “Bad Timing” (#17), “Head Over Heels” (#36)
1995: Nowhere to Here
– 2x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Side of the Road” (#4 WP; #57), “Better Off As We Are” (#5 WP; #58 YE)
– Hit Singles: “It Could Happen to You” (#4 WP; #50 YE)
2000: The Days In-Between
– Hit Singles: “Somebody Waits” (#29)
2002: Palace of Gold
2005: Are You Ready
2007: Small Miracles
2009: The Things We Left Behind
2013: In Our Nature
2016: 1000 Arms
Its affinity for the “roots music” styles of US pop – country, rockabilly, and folk-rock, as well as rock ‘n’ roll – initially drew Blue Rodeo comparisons to The Band and gave it both a populist and critical appeal.
—Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
Country music became popular throughout Anglo America in the 90s with huge names like Canada’s Shania Twain and the United States’ Garth Brooks. Some were saying that country music was even more popular than pop / rock. One of the reasons for this is that country music tends to appeal to all ages – children, youth, adults, and seniors; whereas pop / rock is normally more popular among teens and young adults.
Before Garth Brooks rose to fame in the United States, a number of things were happening north of them that helped set up country music’s surge in popularity in the 90s. In order to attract greater audiences to country, a number of artists built bridges by performing country-rock or country-pop, a blending of the two genres. One of the first and most successful acts to do this was Toronto’s Blue Rodeo.
Songwriters Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor met in high school. They both attended university after which they played in the band The Hi Fi’s in 1977, wrote songs, and released an independent single. Having made little headway, they decided to head down to New York City in the United States in 1981. While there, they assembled the band Fly to France. They played gigs wherever they could, put up posters, and sent promo packages to record companies but drew little attention, so they returned to Toronto. Having recorded a four-song demo, they sent it to a number of record labels. As chance would have it, they ran into an old friend, Cleave Anderson, who had also not seen much luck with the bands he’d joined. He agreed to join Jim and Greg and recommended his friend Bazil Donovan as the drummer. And with this quartet, Blue Rodeo was born. They played their first gig at the Rivoli in February 1985.
Somehow they managed to attract the attention of the manager of country band Prairie Oyster who owned a record label. He introduced the band to producer Terry Brown (Cutting Crew, Klaatu, Rush) who agreed to assist them. After a year and a half of writing and recording, they struck a deal with major label WEA and released the debut album Outskirts. The single “Try” was a Top 10 hit and won the Juno Award for Song of the Year as did the band for Group of the Year. The album reached multi-Platinum status and they toured the nation with k.d. lang and later Europe.
Their follow up album, Diamond Mine, did nothing but bolster their popularity. While award-winning actress Meryl Streep was out driving, her chauffeur played the band’s music in the car. She was so impressed that she asked her production company to have Blue Rodeo make an appearance in the film Postcards from the Edge. When they returned home, they found that their record label had closed. Warner Music Canada took over their contract and connected them with Los Angeles manager Danny Goldberg (Alannah Myles). The new team tried to promote the third album (Casino) in the U.S. but, although receiving much critical praise, it failed to attract attention. At home, however, they had no trouble reciprocating their multi-platinum sales.
For their fourth album (Lost Together in 1991), they tried beefing up their sound with the harder rock that was currently popular. A couple of line-up changes followed the release. The fifth (1993) album, Five Days in July (the title refers to the length of time it took them to record it) saw Blue Rodeo opt for a more acoustic sound resulting from their desire to pay homage to Neil Young’s Harvest era. Sarah McLachlan contributed to the album, and it was to be the band’s most successful, attaining 6x Platinum sales. The eclectic Nowhere to Here followed two years later (also made with contributions from McLachlan).
The band has continued to release albums up to the present time.