By Don Graham
Photo: Justin Bieber and Bobby Curtola
With today’s internet access and instant information highway, we pretty much know everything about celebrities and music stars the minute they become famous. We know the Canadian stars intimately now, birthdays, birthplace and in depth history. Music stars of today such as Michael Buble, Justin Beiber, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Drake are known to the world as Canadian exports. But what about some others that were well known in the industry but not everyone knew their nationality? Not everyone knew that pioneer country rock band Buffalo Springfield had two Canadians, Neil Young and bassist Bruce Palmer. That lead singer Denny Doherty, of legendary Mamas and Papas, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Back in the fifties and sixties Canadians bringing pride to their homeland were Hank Snow and later Bobby Curtola, and The Beaumarks with “Clap Your Hands”, but a great golden oldie “Little Darlin’” was made a hit by Canadian vocal group The Diamonds.
Four members of Toronto’s St Michael’s Choir School, who later became The Crew-Cuts had an international hit with “Sh- Boom.”
The same school spawned the Four Lads .This Canadian group had million-selling signature tunes, including "Moments to Remember," "Standin' on the Corner," "No, Not Much," "Who Needs You," and "Istanbul." Jack Scott who had hits in the fifties with ‘My True Love” “Leroy”, “What in The World’s Come Over You “ and “The Way I Walk” was born in Windsor, Ontario.
World famous bandleader Percy Faith, who is often credited with creating “easy listening” and “mood” music was born in Toronto, Canada. Guy Lombardo, the “Auld Lang Syne” king!! Canadian eh?
Canadian jingle ace Bob Hahn (Why do more Canadians shop at Dominion, than at any other store? Why it’s mainly because of the meat, Hygrade, Hygrade, the best frankfurts are Hygrade produced the iconic Bobby Gimby centennial hit Canada with vocals by daughters Kathy and Lucky Hahn. (Kathy Hahn is contracted yearly to Canadian Music Week, MIDEM’s Canada Stand and also is a journalist here at Cashbox Canada) Bob Hahn was a huge influence on Canadian music and worked with Canadian publishing whiz Brian Chater, who would later discover Bryan Adams. Canadian Producer Mel Shaw gave us the Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” and “Carry Me”in the 1970’s.
It’s well known that Canadian Paul Anka wrote Frank Sinatra’s big hit My Way but how many know that another hit of ‘ole blue eyes’, “I’ll Never Smile Again”, was written by Toronto born Ruth Lowe? Lowe also wrote the Sinatra hit “Put Your Dreams Away” that was sung at Frank’s funeral. That Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was written by Canadian Eddie Schwarz? Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take The Wheel” was co-written by the east coast of Canada’s Gordie Sampson? Or that Saskatchewan native Buffy Ste Marie wrote “Universal Soldier” and co-wrote the Oscar and Grammy winning hit “Up Where We Belong.”
Lead guitarist of The Lovin’ Spoonful (“Daydream”. “Do You Believe in Magic?” and ‘Summer in the City”) was Canadian born Zal Yanofsky.
The “Born to Be Wild “ boys, Steppenwolf were formed in Canada , as The Sparrows, and two of its five member lineup were Canadians, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn. (we’re not makin’ that name up folks! Could you get more Canadian?).
American Al Kooper formed a band called Blood, Sweat and Tears in New York City but their biggest hits “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die” were made popular by the vocals of Canadian David Clayton Thomas.
Heavy metal rock band Mountain’s biggest hit was “Mississippi Queen”, co-written by Canadian Corky Laing. (the band’s rock solid drummer)
So Canada, on your 145th birthday we salute all your well known sons and daughters who have brought you pride with their achievements, and the ones that not everyone knew were Canadians. Be proud Canada. Go to Tim Horton’s and have a double double and a Dutchie! Or kick back with a Molson Canadian or a Canadian Club with Canada Dry Ginger Ale if you’d prefer.
Eat some poutine or a back bacon on a bun, or maybe a smoked meat sandwich. For dessert have a Funnel Cake or a Beaver Tail.
Oh Canada, the true north strong and free!!!