Proudly Canadian

Proudly Canadian: The Pukka Orchestra

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The Pukka Orchestra was a Canadian new wave band in the 1980s. The core of the band consisted of vocalist Graeme Williamson and guitarists Neil Chapman and Tony Duggan-Smith, and the band made frequent use of guest musicians.

The name is derived from the Hindi word pukka, which in UK slang can mean "very good".

Formed in Toronto in 1979, they released an independent single, "Rubber Girl", in 1981. They soon became fixtures on Toronto's Queen Street West club scene and signed to Solid Gold Records, releasing their self-titled debut album in 1984. In the summer of 1984, the band had a top 40 chart hit in Canada with a cover of Tom Robinson's "Listen to the Radio". Other singles "Cherry Beach Express" and "Might As Well Be on Mars" received FM radio play. The Toronto Police Service attempted to block radio airplay of "Cherry Beach Express" due to its themes of opposition to police brutality.

Proudly Canadian: Ian Thomas

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Ian Thomas first broke in North America in 1973 with the top 40 Billboard hit Painted Ladies, which garnered a “Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year” Juno award in 1974. He was to be a fixture on Canadian radio with hits such as Painted Ladies (#4), Long Long Way (#19), Liars (#25), Right Before your Eyes (#57), Coming Home (#23), Pilot (#83), Time Is The Keeper (#71), Hold On (#11), The Runner (#20) and Strange Brew from the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie of the same name. Turns out Dave Thomas’ alias “Doug McKenzie the hoser” is Ian’s brother. Ian swears that nepotism played no role in his involvement in the Bob and Doug Movie. His name was apparently placed in a toque and pulled out by a stranger.

His songs have been covered and played all over the world by other artists as well - like Santana (Hold On – #4), Chicago (Chains), America (Right Before Your Eyes - #13), Manfred Mann (The Runner), Bon Jovi ( Stringing a Line), Bette Midler (To Comfort You) and Anne Murray (Good Again), Daryl Braithwaite (As The Days Go By #10, All I Do #12).

Ian’s group The Boomers, recorded four albums and scored significant success in Europe, Canada and the US. They had a string of international hits throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s which included Love You Too Much (#22 – most played song on Canadian radio in 1991), You’ve Got To Know (#20 – most played song on Canadian radio in 1993), I Feel A Change Coming (#15), Saving Face (#17), I Want To Believe In Something (#16), and more.

Proudly Canadian: Helix

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Source: Wikipedia

Helix are a classic Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band and are best known for their 1984 single "Rock You." The original lineup was formed by drummer Bruce Arnold, and consisted of lead vocalist Brian Vollmer, guitarists Ron Watson and Rick "Minstrel" Trembley, keyboardist Don Simmons, and bassist Keith "Bert" Zurbrigg. Their most well known lineup, however, and the one that recorded "Rock You", was the 80s version of the band: Vollmer on vocals, accompanied by guitarists Brent "The Doctor" Doerner andPaul Hackman, bassist Daryl Gray, and drummer Greg "Fritz" Hinz. The history of the band has been marked by many lineup changes, with Vollmer being the sole constant member and only remaining member of the original lineup. Although guitarist Paul Hackman was killed in a tour bus accident in 1992, the surviving members of the 80s lineup reunited in 2009 for an album and continue to tour in 2011.

Proudly Canadian: Robert Charlebois

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Some might find it odd that we feature someone who is truly a figure of the Francophone youth of the the turbulent 60’s and 70’s in Quebec, but having received the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec, Cashbox Canada feels he can stand on either two sides of the invisible border.

Robert Charlebois was born in Montreal, Quebec. Among his best known songs areLindberg and Je reviendrai à Montréal. His lyrics, often written in joual, are funny, relying upon plays on words. He won the Sopot International Song Festival in 1970. In 1970 he sang with Italian singer Patty Pravo the Italian song La solitudine. In the same year, he performed at the Festival Express train tour in Canada, but did not appear on the documentary film. His particularly poignant song ‘Ordinaire’ truly captures the feeling of a an ordinary singer of popular songs.

He co-starred with Terence Hill, Miou-Miou and Patrick McGoohan in the western Un genio, due compari, un pollo (A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe, 1975) as Steamengine Bill. Thirty-eight years later, Charlebois had a cameo as Jean-Seb Bigstone, the French-Canadian Broadway producer, in the 2012 Gad Elmaleh/Sophie Marceau film Happiness Never Comes Alone.

The Quebec-based microbrewery Unibroue was owned, in part, by Charlebois until it was purchased by Sleeman Breweries in 2004 which in turn was bought by Japanese beer brewing giant Sapporo in 2006. In 1994, Charlebois received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement for his contribution to music in Canada. In 1999, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec.

Proudly Canadian: The Rabble

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Credit: Michael Panontin

Proudly Canadian: Brave Belt

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Credit: canadianbands.com

Just prior to the recording of the SHARE THE LAND album in 1970, Randy Bachman chose to leave what would arguably become known as Canada's greatest group ever The Guess Who. After his first solo effort AXE later that year, he decided to return to the confines of a group setting. Hooking up with brother Robbie on drums and keyboardist Chad Allan, who was part of the original Guess Who in the early 60's under the guise of Chad Allen & The Expressions, they formed Brave Belt in January of 1971. As a trio, it fell upon Randy to handle the duties of laying down the bass tracks while they searched for someone to take over full-time.

They hired CF (Fred) Turner after their first album had all but been completed. Though his name appears on the jacket, Turner actually had nothing to do with the self-titled debut, which was released on Reprise Records that summer. Backed by the first single, "Rock & Roll Band", the album was met with relative indifference. While the band was on the road that fall, the second single hit the radio stations, but "Crazy Arms Crazy Eyes" didn't do much either.

Proudly Canadian: Saga

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Source: Wikipedia

Saga is a rock quintet, formed in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Jim Crichton and Welsh-born vocalist Michael Sadler have been the principalsongwriters for Saga. Ian Crichton is the band's guitarist; apart from his work with Saga, he has recorded several solo albums as well as sessions with Asia. The band's keyboardist, Scottish-born Jim "Daryl" Gilmour, joined Saga in December 1979 after Greg Chadd left the band in August 1979 (Chadd joined Saga in December 1978 after original member Peter Rochon left the band to become a full-time music equipment company executive shortly after the band's first album was released).

After the 2003 Marathon tour, Steve Negus announced his retirement as Saga's original drummer. Christian Simpson, a Canadian-American, replaced Negus for 2004's Network album, until sidelined by a neurological condition that affected his drumming. In late 2005, former Helixmember Brian Doerner became Saga's third drummer in as many years. Doerner suffered a heart attack in 2007 and was replaced by Chris Sutherland (of the Kim Mitchell Band) for the 10,000 Days Tour and Contact DVD. Lead singer Michael Sadler left Saga for family reasons at the end of the 2007 tour. Rob Moratti replaced Sadler in April 2008, after an Internet talent search, spanning Europe and both Americas, failed to yield a potential lead vocalist. On January 28, 2011, an official statement was made announcing Michael Sadler's return as the lead singer of Saga. Saga have been awarded gold and platinum albums worldwide and have sold more than 8 million albums.

Proudly Canadian: J.B. and The Playboys

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Credit: The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia Jamie Vernon
(notes from Shawn Nagy)

Band Members:
Allan Nichols (vocals)

Bill Hill (lead guitar)

Doug West (drums)
Andy "Yugo" Kaye [aka Andurash Kajachanei] (guitar)

Lou Atkins [aka Louis Yachnin] (bass) 

Pete Carson (bass; replaced Atkins 1966)
J.P. Lauzon (guitar; replaced Kaye 1966)

This Montreal-based act established a firm reputation in the early 1960's in the local club scene playing Beatles cover tunes before The Beatles broke in North America because Nichols' aunt lived in England and sent him all the latest releases.

By 1965 they had been signed to RCA Records and released the song "Don't Ask Me To Be True". A string of successful singles followed on the charts through the spring of 1965 after which the band headed into RCA Studios to record the remaining tracks for their self-titled debut LP which was released in the summer of 1965. During that same summer they starred in the movie US Movies Inc. production of Maxwell Sendel's 'Playgirl Killer'.

With a May 1966 switch in name to The Jaybees (as they were being confused with Gary Lewis And The Playboys) and a move to Toronto, they continued with a string of successful singles including "I'm A Loner" peaking at #25 in August 1966, and "I Think Of Her" which hit #49 later that year. Kaye and Atkins would leave the band following this release and were replaced by Pete Carson and J.P.Lauzon who would immediately appear on their next single for Columbia Records "Who Do You Think You Are". Later that year The Jaybees would appear in a second film called "Waiting For Caroline" starring Alexandra Stewart.

Proudly Canadian The Staccatos

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

The band The Staccatos was formed in Ottawa, Canada in 1963. The band initially consisted of Dean Hagopian (vocals), Vern Craig (guitars), Brian Rading (bass), and Rick Bell (drums/vocals, born Rick Belanger). Hagopian left after about a year, and was replaced by vocalist and guitarist Les Emmerson, who would quickly become the band's prime songwriter, while Bell and Emmerson split lead vocal duties.

The Staccatos made their debut as a recording act in 1965, with their early singles being written by the team of Craig and Emmerson. After releasing a non-charting single on a small independent label, the group signed to Capitol Records of Canada, and their second single, "Small Town Girl", made it into the Canadian top 20. Several follow-ups also cracked the top 40, and The Staccatos were rising stars in their native country. Their debut album, Initially, came out in 1966, and featured their hits to that point as well as several new recordings.

In the summer of 1966, Mike Bell (Rick's brother) joined the group as a second drummer and third vocalist. Shortly thereafter, the group had their biggest hit to date with "Half Past Midnight", which made it all the way to #8 on the Canadian charts. This was the second Staccatos single written solely by Emmerson, who by this point had taken over writing virtually all of the band's original material. Also in 1967, The Staccatos issued a joint album with The Guess Who, each band taking up one side of the LP.

“It’s a Long Way Home” was a song that never really made the charts in any serious way but showed the band could have a serious ballad side to their vocals.

Proudly Canadian: Sylvia Tyson

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Sylvia Tyson, CM  (born Sylvia Fricker in Chatham, Ontario) is a musician, performer, singer-songwriter, broadcaster and novelist. From 1959 to 1974, she was half of the popular folk duo Ian & Sylvia with Ian Tyson.

Sylvia Tyson started performing professionally in 1959 as one-half of the internationally acclaimed folk duo, Ian and Sylvia. She wrote her first song, “You Were On My Mind”, in 1962, and three years later it reached #3 on the Billboard chart for a group called We Five, subsequently hitting the British charts as a hit for Crispian St Peter.

Through the sixties and early seventies, Ian and Sylvia produced thirteen popular albums and toured extensively in North America and Europe, sharing their manager, Albert Grossman, with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin. The duo went their separate ways in 1977.

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