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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Burlington music in the mid to late 1970s

When I think back to when I was fifteen years old and in my very first band, with Jim Burns on drums, Bill Bishop on guitar and myself on bass, there is a lot of joy in the memories of those days, and in the musical journey from there to here. We were just teens goofing around on Jumping Jack Flash, Takin Care of Business and Radar Love, yet those sloppy, noisy nights were the beginnings of a lifetime love affair with rock music and culture.

Around seventeen years of age I de-emphasized bass playing and began managing the best band in town, Bill Wood's excellent progressive rock group Darwin, which also included the stellar Mike Danna on keyboards, Mike Lalonde on drums, Mark Shannon on bass and artist Tim Clement on guitar. These guys could play everything from Pink Floyd to Genesis, King Crimson to Led Zeppelin, and were a staple of the Tree Top room at the Estaminet on Lakeshore Road before I started booking them into Burlington and area high schools.

After Darwin, the next group I managed was Interchange, and though they were a bluesy rock outfit closer to the Stones and Aerosmith in style and repertoire, one thing they had in common with Darwin was they also had a very strong lead singer, Simon Leblovic. Simon later went on to front The Start, a Toronto band who had the Cancon hit Hey You in the early 1980s.

Growing increasingly influenced by songwriters such as Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, at nineteen I began playing guitar, and soon embarked on a couple years of hitch-hiking and learning songs on the road, which would take me to Dawson Creek, Vancouver Island, Santa Cruz in California, Vancouver, Banff, Quebec City and Charlottetown, PEI.

At the peak of my street singing I knew about 56 different Dylan songs and about 300 tunes in total, including some originals I had written. Then I saw the Dead Boys perform in San Francisco, and was truly electrified.

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