Robert Farnon

Toronto’s Robert Farnon was one of the finest of all Canadian easy listening and classical music composers. He was also an arranger, conductor, and trumpeter.

Robert FarnonFarnon was born in 1917 and mastered jazz trumpeting along with his friend Dizzy Gillespie. He served as a captain in the Canadian Army. During World War II, he conducted the Canadian Band of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). Stateside, the equivalent role was held by Glenn Miller. After the war, Farnon based himself in the UK. Many of his peers considered him the best arranger in the world. American musical colossus Quincy Jones has named him as a major influence. Farnon received four British Ivor Novello Awards in 1991, an American Grammy Award in 1996, and was awarded the Order of Canada in 1998.

Some of Robert Farnon’s best-known works are “Jumping Bean”, “Portrait of a Flirt”, “Westminster Waltz”, “A Star is Born”, “Peanut Polka”, “State Occasion”, “A la Claire Fontaine “, and “How Beautiful Is the Night”. He composed three full-length classical symphonies as well as a number of concertos. Farnon wrote the music for more than 40 feature films, and his music was featured in a number of television series including The Prisoner and Space: 1999.

Robert Farnon arranged and conducted the only album Frank Sinatra recorded outside of the United States as well as albums for Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, and Sarah Vaughan.

Robert Joseph Farnon passed away in 2005 at the age of 87.

Beau Dommage

Formed: 1973, Montreal
Years Most Active: 1974-1977
– Michel Rivard – guitar, melodica, keyboards, vocals
– Pierre Bertrand – guitar, bass, vocals
– Marie-Michèle Desrosiers – keyboards, vocals
– Réal Desrosiers – drums
– Pierre Huet – lyricist
– Robert Léger – keyboards, flute, composition
– Michel Hinton – keyboards
Genre: Progressive Rock
Biggest Hits:
– “Un Incident à Bois-des-Filion” (1975)
– “Le Blues d’la métropole” (1975)
– “Tous les palmiers” (1975)
– “Amène pas ta gang” (1976)
Beau Dommage, named for an old Quebec expression meaning absolutely, outsold all other Canadian rock bands of the mid-70s in the Province and managed two multi-platinum albums in the country. The band emerged from a late-60s amateur act called La Famille Casgrain, Quenonuille Bleue in 1970, and Theatre Sainfoin. Their debut self-titled album, released in 1974, sold a quarter-million copies and won for the band the Jeune Chanson prize in Cannes, France, presented by the country’s secretary of state and culture. Their sophomore effort went Platinum on the first day of sales, the first album by a Canadian artist to do so.
Beau Dommage embarked on annual tours of Europe, including France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland and performed in Quebec’s major venues as well as several cities elsewhere in Canada. With three other Quebec rock bands, including Harmonium, Beau Dommage headlined the 1976 St-Jean-Baptiste celebrations on Montreal’s Mount Royal which attracted some 400,000 people.
Like Harmonium, the band’s lifespan, though reuniting in the mid-80s for concert reunion tours, was short-lived, and they released only four original studio albums. After 1977, many of the group’s members embarked on solo careers, the most successful belonging to Michel Rivard who enjoyed several hits including “Un trou dans les nuages” and “Le coeur de ma vie”. Marie-Michele Desrosiers and Robert Leger both went solo in the early 80s. The latter saw success on a side project in 1982 with a punk rock musical entitled “Pied de Poule” (Chicken Foot), which continually sold out and saw its title track sell 75,000 copies in Quebec.
The band reunited again in 1995, releasing a new album which won for the band a couple of Félix Awards.


Formed: 1973, Montreal
Years Active: 1974-1980
– Serge Fiori (guitar, flute, zither harp, bass drum, vocals)
– Michel Normandeau (guitar, accordion, vocals)
– Louis Valois (bass guitar, electric piano, vocals)
– Pierre Daigneault (flute, piccolo, soprano sax, clarinet)
– Serge Locat (piano, mellotron, synthesizer)
– Monique Fauteux (vocals, keyboards)
– Robert Stanley (guitar)
– Denis Farmer (drums)
– Libert Subirana (horns)
Genre: Progressive Rock
Biggest Hits:
– “Pour un Instant” / “100 000 Raisons ” (1974)
– “Un Musicien Parmi Tant d’Autres” (1974)
– “Dixie” / “En pleine face” (1975)
– “Comme un fou” (1976)
– “Comme un sage” (1976)
Although Harmonium released only three original studio albums in their brief recording career, its impact on Quebec rock and culture is immeasurable. The band was so talented that all three of their studio albums were named among the 100 greatest Canadian in history by Bob Mersereau in his controversial book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. Besides Jean-Pierre Ferland’s Jaune, these three were the only francophone albums from Quebec named in the list.
Serge Fiori, who was serving as a ballroom guitarist with his father’s orchestra (popular among Montreal’s Italian community) met dramatic actor and musician Michel Normandeau at a music theatre performance in 1972. Bassist Louis Valois joined them the following year and they became Harmonium beginning as a folk trio. Performances in cafés led to a live radio performance and soon a record deal was struck.
The band released its debut album (self-titled) in 1974 which became a big seller with the hit songs “Pour un Instant” and “Un Musicien Parmi Tant d’Autres”. They recruited a couple of new members to enhance their sound and shifted into mellow progressive rock in their sophomore effort in 1975, Si on avait besoin d’une cinquième saison (also known as The Five Seasons). Both albums went platinum in Quebec.
Harmonium’s third and final studio album, released in 1976, was recorded in Fiori’s home and titled L’Heptade. The metaphysical themes surround seven stages of consciousness in daily life. Recruiting yet more musicians, including members of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, to arrange orchestral bridges between the songs, the end-result was that the double-album, in the words of critic François Couture, “achieved a new standard of excellence in Quebec rock and became a minor classic in the history of progressive rock”.
The group toured the country all the way to Vancouver. A live album of the concert was later released (En Tournée). They also performed in California, resulting in The National Film Board of Canada’s production Harmonium en Californie. In Europe, Harmonium had the honour of opening for Supertramp. They returned to Canada to a sold out show at Toronto’s Massey Hall. They toured Europe in 1979 with James Taylor.
In 1980, Harmonium announced that they were disbanding for the mature reason that they simply felt that had created all the best music they possibly could.

Gino Vannelli

Born: 1952, Montreal
Debut: 1973
Genre: Pop

Some Achievements:

– 2 Juno Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year (1976 and 79)
– Four songs that made the year-end Top 100 prior to 1986 (CHUM FM)

Biggest Hit:

I Just Wanna Stop” (1978)
– #1 Hit in Canada; #4 in the U.S.

Some Other Hits:

– “People Gotta Move” (1974)
– “Wheels of Life” (1979)
– “Living Inside Myself” (1981)
– “Black Cars” (1985)
– “Hurts to Be in Love” (1985)
– “Wild Horses” (1987)

Powerful, nearly 3 octave singer Gino Vannelli, is an Italian-Canadian from Montreal and is known for his Robert Charlebois hairstyle and distinctive music style. He has toured with Stevie Wonder and been nominated for a handful of Grammy Awards.

Musical talents ran in the family as Gino’s father was a big band musician. Gino developed a passion for music in his childhood and began learning percussion. At age 12 he had formed a rock band called The Cobras with his brother Joe on keyboards. Gino also began learning piano and guitar and started singing. By the age of 15, he began composing. At age 16, he signed a deal with RCA but sought a wider audience and, later, while studying music theory at the prestigious McGill University, headed down to the U.S. in search of an American deal. He waited outside A&M headquarters in Los Angeles early in the morning. When co-owner Herb Alpert arrived for work, Gino begged him for an audition. Alpert was impressed and a deal was struck. In 1973, his debut album, Crazy Life, was released.

For most of Gino’s career, his brother Joe served as arranger and keyboardist. In the early 70s, little rock music incorporated synthesizers, and Vannelli wanted to create a distinctive sound. Joe helped to create a progressive texture of sound, using synthesizers, that fulfilled Gino’s vision. When this was combined with Gino’s background in jazz, it created a very unique brand of jazz-inflected electronic pop.

With his second album, released the following year, its lead single “People Gotta Move” was a big hit in Canada and broke into the Top 30 in the U.S.

Ambitiously, Vannelli released an album a year but it wasn’t until his sixth album, Brother to Brother, that he surpassed the success of “People Gotta Move”. His biggest hit to date, “I Just Wanna Stop” (Grammy-nominated) as well as “Wheels of Life” helped propel the album into the U.S. #13 spot and it was certified platinum in early 1979.

Another American Top 10 hit followed in 1981, “Living Inside Myself”. Its album, Nightwalker, made it to #15 in the Billboard 200. At this point Vannelli was experiencing record company problems which delayed further album releases for four years. He returned to form in the middle of the decade with Black Cars. Its title track and “Hurts to Be in Love” were big hits in Canada (#6 and #14 respectively). Gino Vannelli’s last big hit came in 1987—”Wild Horses”—a Top 10 hit around the world. The latter two albums hit home more especially with Europeans and he began touring the continent vigorously.

Joni Mitchell

Born: 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta
Debut: 1968
Genre: Folk, Pop, Adult Contemporary
–  Juno Award for Female Vocalist of the Year (1976)
–  U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1997)
–  9 Grammy Awards, including Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002
–  Canada Walk of Fame (2000)
–  Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1981)
–  Blue was listed by Time magazine as among the “All-Time 100 Albums”
–  Ranked 5th on VH1′s list of “The 100 Greatest Women of Rock N’ Roll” (1999)
–  19 Top 30, 17 Top 10, and 8 #1 Studio Albums in Canada
–  15 Top 30, 13 Top 10, and 3 #1 Studio Albums in the U.K.
Biggest Hits:
–  “The Circle Game” (1968)
–  “Both Sides Now” (1969) 
–  “Big Yellow Taxi” (1970)
–  “Carey” (1971)
–  “A Case of You” (1971)
–  “You Turn Me On I’m a Radio” (1972)
–  “Raised on Robbery” (1973)
–  “Help Me” (1974)
–  “Free Man in Paris” (1974)
–  “In France They Kiss on Main Street” (1975)
–  “Coyote” (1976)
–  “Good Friends” (1985)
–  “Come in from the Cold” (1991)
“When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century.”
—Jason Ankeny
Known more for her albums than hit singles (though she did have a number of these), Roberta Joan Anderson was born in Alberta but grew up in Saskatoon. She was treated for polio as a child. She started out learning piano but later switched to the guitar. She had bought a ukulele in her teens because she wasn’t able to afford a guitar. Like fellow folk musicians, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ian and Sylvia, she relocated to Toronto, playing in coffee houses. In order to support herself she had to work during the day at Sears. Her first major performance was at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1965. She was pregnant with the child of her former boyfriend and gave birth to a girl. Feeling she was too young and busy, she gave her daughter up for adoption. She married U.S. folk singer Chuck Mitchell.
Other more established folk singers began performing Joni Mitchell’s songs, like “The Circle Game”. Her own recording didn’t happen until after she had met The Byrds’ David Crosby who was impressed enough with her talent to convince Reprise Records to sign her. In 1968 she released her debut album Song to a Seagull. Clouds followed in 1969 with her classic “Both Sides Now”. The song was perhaps too raw to become a commercial hit for Mitchell but its poppier cover by Judy Collins was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. (and, incidentally, Collins’ only Top 10 hit on the pop charts). Mitchell’s album cracked the Top 5 in Canada, Top 10 in Britain, and won a Grammy Award. She toured and performed at a fearsome pace, including serving as opener for Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
Joni’s first several albums sold in excess of half a million copies apiece in the U.S., charted even higher in Britain, and highest, naturally, in Canada. But she didn’t score a big hit single until 1970′s “Big Yellow Taxi”. It and its album Ladies of the Canyon topped the charts in Canada. And her “Woodstock” became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & (Neil) Young. Her first Top 30 U.S. hit was “You Turn Me On (I’m a Radio)” which came in 1972. In 1974, Mitchell became one of the first artists (well before the likes of Sting) to combine jazz and pop. Court and Spark became her most successful album with three hit singles: “Help Me”, “Free Man in Paris”, and “Raised on Robbery”.
In the 80s, “Blinded Me with Science’s” Thomas Dolby co-produced her venture into electronic rock—Dog Eat Dog and Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, and Billy Idol lent their voices to her Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm (1988). She returned to her roots with a few releases in the 90s.
Joni Mitchell’s works have done better in Britain than in the U.S. and lavish references to her and her music are made in the 2003 British film Love, Actually.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Based: 1972, Vancouver
Years Most Active: 1973-1979
Primary Members:
– Randy Bachman (vocals, lead guitar)
– C. Fred Turner (bass, vocals)
– Tim Bachman (guitar, vocals; 1973-4)
– Robbie Bachman (drums, backing vocals)
– Blair Thornton (lead guitar, backing vocals; replaced Tim Bachman in 1974)
Genre: Rock
Biggest Hit:
– #1 Hit in 20 countries around the world, including Canada and the U.S.
– 4th biggest song of the year in Canada
– Juno Award for Song of the Year
Other Big Hits:
“Let It Ride“, 1974 <#3, RPM> 
“Takin’ Care of Business“, 1974 <#3 RPM> 
“Hey You“, 1975 <#1, RPM> 
“Roll On Down The Highway“, 1975 <#4, RPM>
– 7 JUNO Awards.
– 5 Platinum Albums.
– 11 Top 40 hits (RPM)
– Induction into the Music Hall of Fame, 2014 
One of the biggest rock bands in Canadian history, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was an offshoot of The Guess Who. At the peak of the latter’s success, lead guitarist Randy Bachman left the band and reunited with former Expressions and Guess Who Member Chad Allen. Needing a drummer, Randy recruited his little brother Robin (“Robbie”) and the trio initially called themselves Brave Belt. Heading into the studio to record a country-rock album, they chanced upon bassist C. Fred Turner and became a quartet. They recorded two albums in the early 70s and scored a minor hit: “Dunrobin’s Gone”.
By 1972, the band was shifting into a heavier sound, especially with Turner’s gritty truck driver vocals. This new direction found itself at odds with Chad Allen’s vision of the group and he departed. They were now thousands of dollars in debt, frustrated by their lack of success, wondering whether they should relocate and reinvent themselves. On the road, they stopped for gas and food at a truck stop outside of Windsor, Ontario, one day, and came across the chief magazine (at the time) of the trucking industry—Overdrive. They wrote down the band’s new name on a napkin—Bachman-Turner Overdrive—and had a new vision for where they wanted to go musically. They replaced Allen with another brother of Randy’s—Tim—and began recording demo tapes and touring across the country.
While in Alberta, they bumped into booking agent Bruce Allen, the man who’s, since, managed such artists as Northern Lights, Bryan Adams, and, more recently, Michael Bublé. He suggested they relocate to Vancouver. They settled in a modest studio above a muffler shop in the city and Randy began sending demo tapes to various record labels in the U.S. and Canada. They were turned down by 22 labels before being singed by Charlie Fach of Mercury Records. It happened by pure chance as King Biscuit reports:
Charlie Fach of Mercury Records returned to his office after a trip to France to find a stack of unplayed demo tapes waiting on his desk. Wanting to start completely fresh, he took a trash can and slid all the tapes into it except one, which missed the can and fell onto the floor. Fach then picked up the tape and noticed Bachman’s name on it. He remembered talking to him the previous year and had told Bachman that if he ever put a demo together to send it to him. While playing the first song … “Gimme Your Money Please”, Fach called Bachman to tell him that he wanted to sign the band.
Bachman invited Bruce Allen to become the band’s manager, and they flew to Chicago to meet with Fach. Mercury took issue with the group’s new name which they said was too long. Randy suggested B.T.O. to which Fach agreed. For their debut album, it was Robbie who came up with the distinctive gear logo which was sculpted by Parviz Sardighan, featured on the album cover.
They released three singles which did nothing, but radio picked up their “Blue Collar” which became their first hit peaking at #21 on the RPM charts in 1973. The album managed to stay in the charts for 68 weeks. B.T.O. saw its big breakthrough with its second album, Bachman Tuner Overdrive II, released the same year. The singles “Let It Ride” and the anthemic “Takin’ Care of Business” drove the album into the #4 position on the U.S. Billboard charts. With their success, they felt they needed to replace Tim and enlisted Blair Thornton.
They never dreamed what would happen with their next album, Not Fragile (1974). Single “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” raced up to the top of the charts in 20 countries around the world, becoming a million-seller, and the album topped the Billboard charts. The follow-up single “Roll On Down the Highway” peaked at #4. 1975′s Four Wheel Drive, made the Top 5, went platinum and provided the hit single “Hey You”. B.T.O. was so big by this point that Elvis Presley invited them down to Las Vegas to hang out. He was a big fan of their “Takin’ Care of Business”.
The group revisited their jazzy blues roots on their fifth album, Head On. Little Richard assisted on the piano rocker “Take It Like a Man” and Randy created one of his finest moments, echoing his Guess Who era, “Come Undone”, with the intricate and mellow “Looking Out For #1″.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive was, by now, experiencing internal conflicts stemming from power struggles over song representation, and their sixth album Freeways garnered little radio interest. Mercury panicked and released both Live and Greatest Hits albums, and then, Randy left the band. He was replaced and the group trucked on with a couple of new albums in the late-70s but had no further success and ran out of gas. To date, total worldwide sales of B.T.O. releases are estimated at over 20 million. Randy Bachman is still active in the music business and has worked on a number of projects since. Many of the band’s songs still receive frequent airplay on radio stations. Fans of the group are known as “gearheads”.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Diane Dufresne

Born: 1944, Montreal
Debut: 1972
Genre: Pop / Rock
Biggest Hit:
“J’ai rencontré l’homme de ma vie” (1972)
–  60,000 copies sold in Quebec
–  125,000 copies sold in France
Some Other Hits:
–  “Chanson pour Elvis”
–  “Tu m’fais flipper”
–  “La Chanteuse straight”
–  “Le Parc Belmont”
–  “J’ai douze ans maman”
–  “Pars pas sans me dire bye bye”
–  “Turbulences”
The Canadian Music Encyclopedia writes of Diane Dufresne:
“The first female ‘rocker’ of the francophone world, Diane Dufresne became in France ‘the image of modern Quebec, turbulent, delinquent,’ penned the writer Jacques Godbout (Plamondon, un coeur de rockeur, Montreal 1988). Dufresne has often been compared to Édith Piaf for her sensitive and powerful performances. Nicknamed “La Diva” and “La Dufresne,” she holds the Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award (2001), and is a member of the Order national du Québec (2002) and France’s L’Ordre des arts et des lettres (2000).”
Dufresne began singing lessons as a teenager in Montreal before heading to Paris to further her vocal training, join singing groups, and study dramatic art from 1965-67. After returning to Montreal, she began collaborations with composer François Cousineau and lyricist Luc Plamondon, who later on wrote many of her most popular songs. After making some jingles, she released her debut album in 1972. Her first single “J’ai rencontré l’homme de ma vie” was a huge hit selling 60,000 copies in Quebec and 125,000 in France.
In many ways, Dufresne was the female counterpart of Robert Charlebois, presenting an unconventional, attention-grabbing style, singing in French Canadian street slang (joual), dressing in ravishing costumes, and belting out an amusing vocal technique. Due to the big success of her single, Diane opened for Julien Clerc at the Olympia in Paris, 1973 to mixed reviews.
By the mid-70s, Dufresne had moved to the forefront of Quebec pop stardom, with a trio of best-selling albums. In 1975, she scored another big hit single with “Chanson pour Elvis”, and she put on a couple of big shows on the Montreal stage. Her works earned her a Jeune Chanson award and performed at the Élysée Montmartre in Paris in 1977. The following year, she returned triumphantly to the Olympia in Paris to major acclaim, resulting in two live albums. For the next two years, Dufresne appeared in a number of French TV specials as well as in the rock musical Starmania in 1979 Paris alongside several Quebec and French pop stars.
During the 1980s, Diane Dufresne became one of the most popular pop stars in France appearing in a number of musicals. In 1984, she put on the eminent show “Magie Rose” before an audience of 55,000 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Her following show “Top Secret” garnered her a Félix Award for best pop show of 1987. She steamed ahead with further shows in Quebec (with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra), Japan, and Paris through the late-80s.
In the 1990s, after having severed collaborations with Plamondon in the 80s, Dufresne began composing her own songs. She was given a Félix Lifetime Achievement award in 2006. Various artists released a tribute album of her songs in 2015.


Formed: 1969, Montreal 
Years Most Active: 1971-1985
Primary Members:
–  Gerry Boulet (vocals)
–  Johnny Gravel (guitar)
–  John McGale (guitar from 1977)
–  Pierre Harel (organ to 1974)
–  Michel Lamothe (bass to 1977)
–  Breen Leboeuf (bass from 1977)
–  Roger (Wezo) Belval (drums to 1977)
–  Robert Harrison (drums 1978-82)
–  Pat Martel (drums from 1982)
Genre: Rock / Blues
Biggest Hits:
–  “Faut que j’me pousse” (1971)
–  “Câline de blues” (1971)
–  “Promenade sur Mars” (1974)
–  “La voix que j’ai” (1977)
–  “Chu un rocker” (1977)
–  “Le blues me guette” (1977)
–  “Je chante comme un coyote” (1979)
–  “J’ai l’rock n’ roll pi toé” (1979)
–  “Ayoye” (1979)
–  “Le bar-salon des deux toxons” (1981)
–  “Palais des glaces“ (1981)
–  “Ouv’-moé ta porte” (1981)
–  “Prends pas tout mon amour” (1983)
Offenbach evolved from a number of rock bands and name changes in the late ’60s. Like many outfits in the ’70s, they went through a number of personnel changes; Boulet and Gravel are the two that remained with the group through the span of their career. They released their debut album, Offenbach Soap Opéra in 1971, which consisted of contemporary standards, blues, and original material in French and English. Their sophomore effort, Saint-Chrone de Néant, was a recording of a late-1972 performance of its “Mass for the Dead“ at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montréal.
The following two years, the band, based out of Paris, toured around Europe. After returning to Montreal in 1975, Offenbach moved to the forefront of Quebec rock groups. Albums in both English and French followed. But their biggest was 1979′s Transversion which spawned four major hits and the Rock Album of the Year Félix Award.
The group toured the Province that year and a live album was released garnering for them further Félix Awards in 1980, including Group of the Year. They became the first Québécois rock act to headline at the Montreal Forum. With their great success, Offenbach returned to France on tour. They disbanded in 1985, and the members all became involved in solo projects as well as working with other acts. After some hits as a soloist in the late-80s, including “Un beau grand bateau”, the Felix Song of the Year for 1989, Gerry Boulet died in 1990 having battled for four years with cancer. Offenbach reunited in 1996 for a reunion tour.

April Wine

Formed: 1969, Halifax
Years Most Active: 1971-1984
Primary Members:
–  Myles Goodwyn (vocals, guitars, keyboards; 1969-Present)
–  Jimmy Henman (vocals, bass; 1969-71)
–  David Henman (vocals, guitar; 1969-72)
–  Ritchie Henman (drums; 1969-72)
–  Jim Clench (bass; 1972-75)
–  Gary Moffet (guitars; background vocals; 1973-85)
–  Jerry Mercer (ex-Mashmakhan; drums; 1973-85)
–  Steve Lang (bass, background vocals; 1976-85)
–  Brian Greenway (vocals, guitars; 1977-85)
–  Canadian Music Hall of Fame
–  15 Top 30 and 6 Top 10 hits
–  7 Platinum and 3 Multi-Platinum albums
–  First Canadian album to go Platinum in advance sales
–  First Canadian concert tour to gross $1 million
Genre: Rock
Biggest Hits:
–  “Fast Train” (#23 Hit in 1971)
–  “You Could Have Been a Lady” (#5 Hit in 1972)
–  “Bad Side of the Moon” (#16 Hit in 1972)
–  “Lady Run, Lady Hide” (#19 Hit in 1973)
–  “I Wouldn’t Want to Lose Your Love” (#17 Hit in 1974)
–  “Tonight is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love” (#5 Hit in 1975)
–  “Oowatanite” (#11 Hit in 1975)
–  “The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy” (#5 Hit in 1976)
–  “You Won’t Dance With Me” (#6 Hit in 1977)
–  “Roller” (#24 Hit in 1979)
–  “Just Between You and Me” (#6 Hit in 1981)
–  “Enough is Enough” (#8 Hit in 1982)
–  “If You Believe in Me” (#19 Hit in 1993)
Although this institutional Canadian stadium rock act never received a major Juno award (they were nominated eight times for Group of the Year) before being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010, April Wine scored a string of hits in the 1970s and early 80s including 15 that made the Top 30 and 6 that made the Top 10. Their success rarely splashed over south of the border; their biggest U.S. hit—1981′s “Just Between You and Me”—made it to #21 on the American charts. But they were always cherished at home in Canada with three platinum albums and three double-platinum. Known for their long song titles, April Wine is basically singer, songwriter, and guitarist Myles Goodwyn (b. Woodstock, NB, 1948), the only member who remained with the outfit throughout their career. Bassist Jim Clench left the band in 1975 to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy.
April Wine formed in Halifax in 1969 before relocating to Montreal a few months later. They were able to quickly sign a deal with Aquarius Records and their debut came in 1971 with the moderate chart hit “Fast Train”. The following year, they made the Top 5 with a cover of Hot Chocolate’s “You Could Have Been a Lady”, which made it to #1 in some cities / radio stations. 1975′s huge hit “Tonight is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love” helped the album Stand Back to go double-platinum. In 1976, the concert tour promoting their album The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy was the first to gross one million dollars. The album itself was the first Canadian release to go platinum simply on advanced sales orders.
In 1977, the band released their biggest-selling single—”You Won’t Dance with Me”—which got them to open for the Rolling Stones in Canada and the U.S. as well as for Styx and fellow-Canadian band Rush. They broke into the U.S. Billboard charts in 1979 (“Roller”) which helped their album First Glance become their first to go gold outside Canada.
April Wine entered the 80s with great confidence and released the album Harder … Faster with “I Like to Rock” and the new wave tinged hit “Say Hello”. Both were popular on both sides of the border and the album achieved multi-platinum status remaining in the Billboard album charts for 40 weeks. They toured with Nazareth in the States. Bolstered by the hit “Just Between You and Me” (the band’s biggest in the U.S.), the album Nature of the Beast went multi-platinum in both Canada and the U.S.
Animal Grace (1984) was to be April Wine’s last album. But in 1992 the band reunited for a Canadian tour and recorded the hit single “If You Believe in Me” and the album Attitude.

Anne Murray

Born: 1945, Spring Hill, Nova Scotia
Debut: 1968
Genre: Country, Pop, Adult Contemporary
Some Achievements:
–  The first Canadian female to score a gold record in the U.S. (“Snowbird”)
–  Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1993)
–  Canada Walk of Fame (1998)
–  Hollywood Walk of Fame (1980)
–  Ranked #24 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women in Country Music (2002)
–  31 Juno Awards
–  Juno Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year 9 times (1971-75; 1979-82)
–  Three of her songs were awarded Junos for Single of the Year
–  Two of her albums were awarded Junos for Album of the Year
–  4 major Grammy Awards
–  Cited as Canada’s female artist of the 1970s by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (1980)
–  Has sold 54 million records worldwide
–  21 Top 30, 9 Top 10, and 5 #1 Singles in Canada
–  14 Top 30, 7 Top 10, and 2 #1 Original Studio Albums in Canada
Biggest Hit:
You Needed Me” (1978)
–  Peaked at #1 in Canada and the U.S. and #2 in Australia
–  30th biggest song of the year in Canada
–  Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal
Some Other Big Hits:
–  “Snowbird” (1970)
–  “Sing High, Sing Low” (1971)
–  “Danny’s Song” (1972)
–  “Cotton Jenny” (1972)
–  “A Love Song” (1973)
–  “You Won’t See Me” (1974)
–  “Shadows in the Moonlight” (1979)
–  “I Just Fall in Love Again” (1979)
–  “Broken Hearted Me” (1979)
–  “Daydream Believer” (1980)
–  “Could I Have This Dance” (1980)
–  “Blessed Are the Believers” (1981)
–  “Another Sleepless Night” (1982)
–  “A Little Good News” (1983)
–  “Now and Forever (You and Me)” (1986)
Anne Murray is simply a legend. Easily the biggest female singer of the 70s, when she won Juno awards in six of its ten years for female singer of the year, she topped the country charts, the adult contemporary charts, and the pop charts. Unlike Lightfoot and Young, she was not a songwriter. But her rich, husky alto voice, similar but superior to Karen Carpenter’s, led a vast array of songs to the top of the charts. She was the first of three Canadian female country superstars, foreshadowing the careers of k.d. lang and Shania Twain. While the 70s were dominated by album-oriented artists, Murray was largely a singles artist.
Murray, having grown up with five brothers and parents in the medical professions, studied piano for six years and took singing lessons. She intended to work as a physical education instructor, but, in the midst of her studies, auditioned for a spot on the CBC-TV series Singalong Jubilee. She was turned down (because they had already hired an alto singer) and, after graduating from university, began teaching P.E. at high school in P.E.I.. Two years after the audition, the show’s producer got in touch with her saying there was a new show Let’s Go that needed an altoist. She accepted and, for the next four years, sang on the show (while still teaching). She developed a professional relationship with the show’s musical director Brian Ahern who eventually asked her to begin a recording career. In 1968, she released her debut album What About Me. Though an independent release, the record sold well, attracting the attention of Capitol Records who signed her the following year.
In 1970, Anne Murray became a household name with the million-selling release of the country single “Snowbird”. She relocated to Los Angeles to appear as a regular on Glen Campbell’s syndicated TV show but, disliking the California lifestyle, quickly returned home. Her several follow-up singles did very well at home, but not so well abroad, until the release of “Danny’s Song” in 1972 (#1 at home; #7 in the U.S.). A cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Cotton Jenny” topped both the pop and country charts in Canada. “A Love Song”, the following year, earned her a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.
The following year she scored three Top 10s in either the country or pop charts, including “He Thinks I Still Care”—#1 on the American country charts. Murray married in 1975, settled in Toronto, and gave birth to a son. Her subsequent singles did only moderately well. But in 1978, with a new producer, she entered her period of greatest commercial success. It began with “Walk Right Back” and its million-selling follow-up “You Needed Me”, her biggest song. It topped the charts in Canada and the U.S., remained at #1 in Malaysia for ten weeks, peaked at #2 in Australia, and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal. For the next eight years, she had a nearly uninterrupted string of Top Five country hits, highlighted by 13 Number Ones. Her last Top 30 hit was “What Would It Take” with Canada’s Emperor of Pop, Bryan Adams.
Anne Murray’s worldwide sales have amounted to 54 million units, including over 6 million in Canada. And in a final note of trivia, her physical education background has born fruit. In 2007, Golf for Women magazine named her the world’s best female celebrity golfer.

Neil Young

Born: 1945, Toronto
Debut: 1968/9
Genre: Pop

Some Achievements:

– Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1982)
– U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1995)
– Canada Walk of Fame (2000)
– The first Canadian artist to have a number one album in Britain
– 3 Major Juno Awards: Male Vocalist of the Years 1995 and 2001 and Album of the Year for Harvest Moon (1994)
– Ranked #34 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Artists of All-Time” (2004)
– Ranked #2 (behind Bob Dylan) in Paste Magazine’s “Greatest Living Songwriters” list (2006)

Biggest Hit:

“Heart of Gold” (1972)
– 8th Biggest Song of the Year in Canada
– One of the Top 10 Canadian songs of the 70s
– #1 single in Canada and the U.S.

Other Popular Songs:

– “Cinnamon Girl” (1969)
– “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (1970)
– “After the Gold Rush” (1970)
– “Ohio” (with Crosby, Stills & Nash; 1970)
– “Helpless” (with Crosby, Stills & Nash; 1970)
– “Old Man” (1972)
– “This Note’s For You” (1988)
– “Rockin’ in the Free World” (1989)
– “Harvest Moon” (1992)
– “Philadelphia” (1994)
– “Downtown” (with Pearl Jam; 1995)

Neil Young was born in Toronto as the son of sports journalist Scott Young. He suffered from illnesses (diabetes and polio) as a child and his parents divorced when he was in his early youth. He moved to Winnipeg with his mother and began learning guitar. He recounts that he used to endlessly plug coins into the jukebox to hear Ian & Sylvia’s “Four Strong Winds”. (In 1979, he recorded the most successful cover of the song.) He formed his first band, The Jades, in Junior High School which later coalesced into The Squires. In 1963, they cut their first single, “The Sultan”, which was a local hit. The band played local clubs and cafés where Young eventually met Joni Mitchell and American musician Stephen Stills. He wrote the folk song “Sugar Mountain” and Mitchell wrote “The Circle Game” in response. He also became good friends with Randy Bachman (The Guess Who / Bachman-Turner Overdrive). The Squires split up in 1965, and Young relocated to Toronto, forming a band with Rick James and Bruce Palmer called the Mynah Birds. They recorded an album’s worth of material for Motown, none of which was released.

Young felt that his career was going nowhere and decided to drive down to Los Angeles in his Pontiac hearse, taking Palmer with him. They ran into Stills again and decided to form a half-Canuck, half-Yankee hybrid band called Buffalo Springfield who recorded their first album in 1966 and then a few more before calling it quits in 1968. The band was a one-hit wonder with “For What It’s Worth” which peaked at #7 on the Billboard charts. Despite this and their short life, the band, perhaps because of the critical acclaim it garnered, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

His work with the band was enough to get him signed with Reprise Records (home of Joni Mitchell) as a solo artist. And he released his first album in 1969. After touring Canada, he hooked up with a band called The Rockets. He convinced them to join him under the name Crazy Horse, critically hailed as one of the best garage-rock bands of all-time. They supported Young on his sophomore effort Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. With such classics (which Young incidentally wrote with a high fever) as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down by the River”, the album went gold.

Celebrating his success, Young reconnected with Stills who had also hit the big time, having released an album the same year with his new trio Crosby, Stills, and Nash (CSN). Two of their singles had cracked the Top 30 and their album peaked at #6. CSN invited Young to join them on their sophomore release, Déjà Vu. The album was a beautiful collaboration. The four members wrote two songs each for the album. Stills and Young wrote one together. And the band covered Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock”. Nash’s two compositions and Mitchell’s made the Billboard Top 30. The album itself went #1. Following the Kent State massacre, Young wrote the song “Ohio” and had the band record it quickly. The single became an anti-war staple song. There were tensions in the band: CSN wanted to do rock whereas Young wanted to do folk. As a result, Young shifted into 5th gear on his solo career.

As a soloist, Neil Young released After the Gold Rush and its single “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” in 1970. The album peaked at #8 in the U.S. and went 2x multi-platinum. The single peaked at #16 in Canada. In “Southern Man”, Young criticized the southern U.S. for its racism which prompted the friendly reply by Lynyrd Skynyrd in their “Sweet Home Alabama” in which they mention Young by name. In 1971, Neil Young skyrocketed to superstardom when he released Harvest and “Heart of Gold”. It was the first Canadian album to top the album charts in Britain, a feat that took 19 years to repeat. It topped the charts in the U.S. as well. The single went #1 in the U.S. and Canada and cracked the Top 10 in Britain. “Old Man” was the second hit single released.

Rather than embracing his success, Young spurned it and began recording much darker material. But his albums continued to sell well. In the 80s, Young began experimenting with heavy metal, electronic rock, country, and rockabilly.

In the late-80s, he came out with “This Note’s for You”, supported with a highly-praised video that satirized rock stars endorsing commercial products. 1989′s Freedom made him popular in indie rock circles. Reuniting with Crazy Horse again, the loud feedback-drenched Ragged Glory earned Young the appellation “Granddaddy of Grunge”. Now at 45, Young needed to become hip in the young alternative rock scene, so he hired Sonic Youth as his opening act on tour. The live album Weld followed. In keeping with his trademark idiosyncratic nature, he opted for a much more peaceful follow-up and released the mellow Harvest Moon, a sequel to 1971′s Harvest, in 1992. It was his biggest album in Canada going 5x multi-platinum.

In 1994, he recorded one of the theme songs for the film Philadelphia. And he released the Top 10 album Sleeps with Angels. The following year he collaborated with rock band Pearl Jam in the release Mirror Ball which peaked at #5. The man hasn’t slowed down; so far this decade, he has released 7 albums, all of which have made the Top 30. Young has spent a lot of time in the U.S. but has never renounced his Canadian citizenship. A tribute album to Young, Borrowed Tunes, features such Canadian artists as Randy Bachman, Jann Arden, and Blue Rodeo. He closed the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010 performing, “Long May You Run”.

Neil reunited with Crazy Horse in 2012 releasing the album Psychedelic Pill as well as an album of covers called Americana. Two new albums followed in 2014.

The Stampeders

The Stampeders

Origin: Calgary
Years Most Active: 1968-1976
Genre: Rock

Primary Members:
Rich Dobson (lead guitarist, vocals)
Ronnie King (rhythm guitar, vocals)
Kim Berly (drummer, vocals)

Originally the Rebounds, who formed in Calgary, the group changed their name to The Stampeders in 1965. They had several lineup changes over the years, but the core consisted the three players above. Though best remembered for their chart-topper “Sweet City Woman”, they scored a total of 15 Top 40 hits including “Carry Me” and “Wild Eyes” which peaked at #2.

With the concept of cowboys playing rock and roll, The Stampeders dressed up in assorted-coloured denim, and wore cowboy boots and hats, playing their first year in Calgary. Yearning for better things, a six-man, mostly under-aged band at the time, they travelled across Canada to Toronto in 1966 in a Cadillac limousine pulling a U-Haul trailer playing in bars and to pay their way, as they crossed the country. In Toronto, with their cowboy gear, they were a curiosity in the folk-oriented, hippie clubs of the Yorkville district.

The Stampeders signed with U.S. booking agency, Premier Talent, in 1971 which led to American tour appearances with a number of high-profile acts like Santana, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller, Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, ZZ Top, The Eagles, Earth, Wind And Fire, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Genesis. In 1972, they toured UK and Europe, where they discovered their “Sweet City Woman” was already covered by the Dick Clark 5.

To the disappointment of fans, they split in 1980 due to a perceived inability to continue their success but in 1992 reunited and came out with an album in 1998. They continue to tour.

Andy Kim

Born: 1952 in Montreal
Debut: 1968
Genre: Pop, Adult Contemporary
–  Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year (1970)
–  Co-wrote one of the biggest songs of all-time, “Sugar, Sugar”
Biggest Hits:
“Baby I Love You” (1969)
–  Peaked: #1-Canada; #1-US; #2-UK
–  11th biggest song of the year in Canada
“Rock Me Gently” (1974)
–  Peaked: #1-Canada; #1-US; #2-UK
–  23rd biggest song of the year in Canada
Biggest Composed Hit:
“Sugar, Sugar” (1969)
–  Co-wrote the song with Jeff Barry
–  #1 Song of the Year in the U.S. (Billboard)
–  #2 Song of the Year in Canada.
–  Spent 8 weeks at #1 in the U.K.
–  Sold over 13 million copies, making it one of the biggest-selling singles of all-time.
Some Other Hit Singles:
–  “How’d We Ever Get This Way?” (1968) <#9 Canada; #21-US>
–  “Shoot ‘Em Up Baby” (1968) <#29 Canada>
–  “So Good Together” (1969) <#15 Canada>
–  “A Friend in the City (1970) <#19 Canada>
–  “Be My Baby” (1971) <#6 Canada 80th of the year; #17-US)
–  “I Wish I Were” (1971) <#22 Canada>
–  “I Been Moved” (1971) <#39 Canada>
–  “Who Has the Answers” (1972) <#12 Canada>
–  “Fire, Baby I’m On Fire” (1974) <#15 Canada>
–  “The Essence of Joan” (1975) <#28 Canada>
–  “Amour” (1980) <nominated for JUNO Song of the Year>
–  “Powerdrive” (1991) <#27 Canada>
–  “I Forgot to Mention” (2004)
Andy Kim of Montreal grew up with three brothers in a hardworking family involved in the grocery business. With $40 in his pocket, he went to New York at age 16 to try to realize his dream of becoming a pop star. He was signed by producer / songwriter Jeff Barry to Steed Records. The two became a very successful songwriting team beginning with “How’d We Ever Get This Way” which made the Top 10 in Canada. A string of hits followed in the late-60s and early 70s. His first Gold Record was “Baby, I Love You”, a #1 hit in Canada and Top 10 hit in the U.S.; it sold 1.5 million copies.
He began co-writing songs for the cartoon TV series, The Archies. “Sugar, Sugar” became the biggest song of 1969 worldwide, selling over 13 million copies. In 1970, Kim won a Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. His biggest international hit came in 1974—“Rock Me Gently”. Due to the mounting strain of fame, Kim stopped recording for a few years. Tom Jones’ manager Gordon Mills signed him recommending he change his name to distance himself from his earlier bubblegum pop, teen idol image. In the 80s, he released a couple of adult contemporary albums under the alias Baron Longfellow. The song “Amour” was a hit and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Junos.
He faded into obscurity before recently resurfacing in 2004 with “I Forgot to Mention” co-written with the Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson. Andy Kim has been compared in sound to Neil Diamond, and, having gone from teen idol to adult contemporary, in career path to Paul Anka.

Robert Charlebois

Born: 1944 in Montreal
Debut: 1965
Genre: Folk, Rock, Pop, World Beat
Most Well-Known Song:
“Lindberg” (1968)
Some Other Hits:
–  “La Boulée”
–  “Demain l’Hiver”
–  “California”
–  “Ordinaire”
–  “Avril sur Mars”
–  “Je Reviendrai à Montréal”
–  “Mon ami Fidel”
–  “Je t’aime comme un fou”
Robert Charlebois is for all intents and purposes the godfather of French Canadian rock. His musical career spans half a century. He started out as a folk singer but switched to psychedelic rock, then to mainstream pop/rock. He sang in a street-slang style known as joual.
During his teens, Charlebois took piano lessons and taught himself to play the guitar. He started out playing in folk clubs in the early 60s. His debut in 1965 won a Best Folk Album award. His clean-cut, articulate, and poetic approach in songs like “La Boulée” and “Demain l’Hiver” appealed to intellectuals.
After his third album, he ventured down to California and experienced first-hand the “flower power” movement. This radically changed his musical vision. He staged an experimental, psychedelic show back in 1968 Montreal called L’Osstidcho which became the most important show of the decade due to its unbridled creativity. It changed the face of song in Quebec. His subsequent album which also featured Louise Forestier let loose the single “Lindberg” which became an international hit and won awards. “California” followed.
Riding on the wave of success, Charlebois toured France in 1969 accompanied by Forestier and backed by Le Jazz Libre. Their riotous performance at the Olympia in Paris was one-of-a-kind. Charlebois, dressed in a Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey and singing in joual to the backing of a jazzy rock band, made a big impact in France. Shock soon turned into appreciation for the originality and energy of his music. He returned to France a number of times in the early ’70s when he settled on a sound in-between his mellow folk early-on and his extreme psychedelia of the late-60s. The albums he released at that time are considered monuments of Canadian rock history. In 1970, he released the song “Ordinaire” his second major success and award-winner. His song “Avril sur Mars” is considered a classic.
In 1974 Charlebois participated with Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault in the “Superfrancofête” on the Plains of Abraham, Quebec City. This was a historic gathering (and was telecast on CBC and in France) of the three men who founded modern pop music in Quebec. After this, Charlebois embarked on a two-year sabbatical. He ended this when he, the most popular French Canadian singer, teamed up with the most popular English Canadian singer at that time, Gordon Lightfoot, in concert. He began recording again and scored big with “Je Reviendrai à Montréal” and “Mon Ami Fidel”.
His career began to wane at the end of the decade in Quebec (though it continued to grow in France) but his settling for mainstream pop and collaboration with renowned lyricist Luc Plamondon helped bring him back into the limelight in 1983 with the release of a self-titled album which won a Félix Award for Album of the Year. His biggest hit of the 80s—“Je t’aime comme un fou” came that year and won a Félix Award for Song of the Year.
His breathtaking 1992 album Immensément won a Victoire de la Musique Trophy in France (their equivalent of the Junos). By the late-90s, his music had transformed into a style similar to so-called world beat. He released a come-back album in 2008 entitled Doux Sauvage.

Leonard Cohen

Born: 1934 in Montreal
Debut: 1967
Died: 2016
Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter
Some Achievements:
–  Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1991)
–  Companion of the Order of Canada
–  U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2008)
–  7 Juno Awards
–  Two thousand renditions of his songs have been recorded.
Most Well-Known Song:
“Suzanne” (1967)
Some Other Well-Known Songs:
–  “Sisters of Mercy” (1967)
–  “Bird on the Wire” (1969)
–  “The Story of Isaac” (1969)
–  “Last Year’s Man” (1971)
–  “Joan of Arc” (1971)
–  “Famous Blue Raincoat” (1971)
–  “Chelsea Hotel No. 2″ (1974)
–  “Who by Fire” (1974)
–  “Coming Back to You” (1985)
–  “Hallelujah” (1985)
–  “Everybody Knows” (1988)
–  “First We Take Manhattan (1988)
–  “Tower of Song” (1988)
Leonard Cohen with his signature gruff, monotone voice, picturesque and unsettling lyrics, and rudimentary, melancholy music is considered the most successful singer/songwriter of the late 60s who mad music through to the 2010s.
Cohen is as much a poet as a musician. He, himself, conceded that his strength lies in his poetry rather than his vocal offerings when he remarked after winning a Juno Award, “Only in Canada could I get ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’”. It can be offered however that Cohen’s voice was perfectly suited to the material at hand, which was, in the words of music critic Bruce Eder, “drenched in downbeat images and a spirit of discovery as a path to unsettling revelation”.
Despite lavish praises by American critics and musicians and his induction into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, his albums did not sell well there until the 2010s when he placed two LPs in the Billboard Top 10. Five of his albums made the Top 10 in Britain, his earliest being Songs from a Room in 1969. In that country, he achieved one-hit-wonder status, as “Hallelujah” scratched into the Top 40 in 2008. Like Buffy Sainte-Marie, poppier covers of Cohen’s songs have often done better than his own darker, discreet versions.
Born in 1934 in the Montreal suburb of Westmount, Cohen’s father died when he was nine years old. His mother encouraged him in his pursuits as a writer, especially of poetry. At age 13, he learned the guitar initially to impress a girl and later on to play country tunes at local cafés. He started a band called the Buckskin Boys. By the time he graduated from university in 1955, his creative writing earned him an award and he published a book of poetry a year later. His second book of poetry (1961′s Spice Box of Earth), unlike his first, became an international bestseller. He continued publishing books of poetry and novels while traveling around the world including a lengthy stay in Greece. In 1966, he began writing music but as a natural extension of his poetry.
Initially feeling too modest to get involved in the vanity of the music business, he allowed his song “Suzanne” to be picked up by established folk singer Judy Collins who put it on her album In My Life. The song received considerable airplay. Collins encouraged Cohen to begin performing again and his professional debut performance came in the summer of 1967, care of the Newport Folk Festival. Two sold out shows in New York followed before the telecast “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen”. Around this time, a second cover of “Suzanne” by Noel Harrison brought the song onto the pop charts. Impressed with Cohen, legendary producer John Hammond Sr. got him a recording contract with Columbia Records and The Songs of Leonard Cohen LP was released at the end of the year.
The album, too dark to be a commercial success, was as big a hit as a folk album could be. University students, especially, got into it. And it spent a full year on the album charts in Britain. Robert Altman’s 1971 film, McCabe And Mrs. Miller featured almost the entire album as the soundtrack. In 1968, Cohen released a new volume of poetry which earned him Canada’s highest literary honour—the Governor General’s Award. He humbly declined it.
In 1970, Cohen, along with Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Canada’s Joni Mitchell, appeared at the post-Woodstock gathering of rock stars in England: The Isle of Wight Festival. He performed before an audience of 600,000 people. By the time he released the album Songs of Love and Hate, Cohen had gained an international cult following.
He released Death of a Ladies’ Man in 1977 which suffered from disagreements over mixing between him and its producer—Phil Spector. Recent Songs came in 1979. A six-year lapse followed, after which he did an album with Seattle-born Jennifer Warnes: Various Positions (1985). Cohen had met Warnes (who incidentally sang Canadian Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Oscar-winning song) in the mid-70s and had been collaborating and performing with her since then.
In 1988, the more pop-oriented, electronic-tinged I’m Your Man came out and first introduced what has become one of Cohen’s best-known songs in Canada—“Everybody Knows”. The Future was released in ’92, becoming his biggest success in Canada (in terms of studio albums), where it went 2x Platinum. Three tracks from the album were featured in the movie Natural Born Killers. A couple of tribute albums came out, the second of which was entitled Tower of Song and featured covers of Cohen’s songs by superstars like Billy Joel, Elton John, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and others. In the late-90s, Leonard Cohen became a Buddhist, spending time in a Zen retreat writing new material. New collaborations with Sharon Robinson led to her producing his next album, Ten New Songs (2001). It was a bestseller. Cohen released Dear Heather in 2004 and, at the age of 77, released Old Ideas in 2012 which topped the Canadian Billboard Albums Chart. Popular Problems did the same in 2014 and won the Album of the Year JUNO award. Shortly after the release of what was to become his final studio album, You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of 82.