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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joe College autobiography; 1975 Burlington Rocks

Dave, Simon and Roy from Intechange

'75 was a wild year for me in many ways. I was managing the east Burlington progressive rock group Darwin (singer Bill Wood was later best known for his work with The Oh No's and Eye Eye) at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year I was handling Interchange (Simon Leblovic, Larry Boyd, Roy Furness, and Dave Matthews from Burlington, Wayne Nagy from Mississauga), more of an Aerosmith / Rolling Stones style combo that did a wicked version of Dream On, which I pitched to Toronto record label types as a single. Three months later Aerosmith released it as a single, even though it was from an older album, and it became their first major international hit.

Interchange's singer, Simon Leblovic, went on to lead various bands including The Loved Ones and Rocking Horse, eventually ending up in Toronto as Simon Slinger, fronting The Start, who had a minor Cancon hit with Hey You, before he moved to Japan and started a family with a young lady there.

Toronto and Southern Ontario hosted a lot of concerts in 1975, and I remember a two or three week stretch where I was able to attend a sweltering Rolling Stones concert at Maple Leaf Gardens on June 18th, the massive Pink Floyd show on June 28th in Hamilton, and a Rush / Max Webster gig in Port Dover a few nights later. Burnsie and I went to the Floyd concert but after ingesting more than a few tabs of the lucid eye widener, the band's show was just too heavy and I asked Jim if he would mind if we left to get some beer, as I was on the edge, so we headed to a nearby pub for a pitcher. I was to have another eye-opener trip a few weeks later where I would do nearly double and be up for four days, and again it was Burnsie who talked me and walked me through that first night. A friend had offered to call an ambulance but I wanted to walk to Joseph Brant Hospital even though it was about 2+ miles away, as we were in a house on the far side of Central Park, near Guelph Line. When we got to the hospital I wanted to keep on walking and so we started down Beach Boulevard. About halfway to the orange bridge a large German shepherd dog cam barking out onto the road and truly terrified us. We decided to heed the dog's warning and slowly started back into Burlington but again walked right by the hospital. Within a few more hours I was feeling fine again and though I wouldn't sleep for a few more days, I had learned my lesson about taking too much acid and never took more than one or two hits after that. I pretty much stopped then and there, but after joining the Vancouver punk scene in 1979 I had a few more trips, plus some special moments with Peyote (The Clash / DOA concert) and that Western Canada favourite, magic mushrooms

The Rush / Max Webster gig in Port Dover on a summer night in early July 1975was another rock moment to remember. I was grateful that my friend Randy Hoffman had agreed to hitchhike down there with me, and Rush didn't disappoint. We were right up in front of the stage and Alec Lifeson played so many freakin guitar notes right in front of my face it was insane. John Rutsey had left the band and a wise gent from St. Catharines was to take his place behind the skins, a certain Neil Peart. I can't remember if the Nazareth / Rush show at the old Hamilton Forum was Rutsey's last gig or Peart's first, but by Port Dover Peart was in the band and writing lyrics.

There were stretches of months where I was unemployed and hung around Jubilee Pool Hall where Bob Aird worked, and for about a year there I worked in a shoe factory on Fairview Avenue, often stretching and nailing work boots until my hands ached. The first hundred or so pairs I made there were scarily shoddy, but the last few thousand were wickedly fine, so you do what you can do.

At the time I was seventeen years of age and living in a basement room in a rooming house on the north side of Plains Road one block west of Brant Street, and it had no windows so when you turned out the light you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. It had no kitchen facilities yet still, it was clean and safe down there, and I had plenty of friends in town, and some family too. More than a few times Mike Morley let me heat up some food from his parent's fridge or pantry, and other days Mike Sobala, Jim Burns or one of the Brodericks would buy me a sub when they knew I was hurting, which was often.

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