It’s almost impossible to truly gauge the impact Don Wright has had on London music. At 14, he won a gold medal for his cello performance in a Canada-wide competition. He then formed a dance band with his brothers and played across Ontario. He graduated from Western University and became a teacher and was later appointed Director of Music for London schools. During World War II, Wright conducted shows for the troops. In 1946 he became General Manager CFPL radio and discovered up-and-coming country music star Tommy Hunter. With his wife Lillian he formed the Don Wright Chorus, and was introduced on-air by the legendary Guy Lombardo, a fellow Londoner. They received airplay across Canada and the United States. He honed his skills as a composer and began orchestrating and publishing music. He became known as “The Jingle King” crafting radio and TV jingles. So prolific was Don he was appointed musical director for The Denny Vaughan Show and the Wayne and Shuster Show. Western’s Faculty of Music is named after the legendary musician, composer and conductor. Don Wright passed away on June 27, 2006, at the age of 97.
Priscilla Wright hit it big in 1955 with her international hit single, Man In A Raincoat. The song was recorded at the CFPL radio studios with her farther Don and his septet providing backing vocals. The song was such a smash hit, she was invited to sing it on the Ed Sullivan Show in July 1955 and she was selected by Cash Box Magazine as the Most Promising Artist of the Year. Priscilla’s success led to a film contract with Twentieth Century Fox and several film and concert appearances with Elvis Presley. After that, Wright took a hiatus from the music industry until the 1980’s when she teamed up with legendary producer Jack Richardson to record Michael Bolton’s “Heartbeat” hitting No. 8 on the Canadian radio charts. Priscilla Wright’s career has continued to blossom, receiving a Juno nomination as Most Promising Artist in 1993, and going on to perform with Canada’s top musicians such as Peter Apple yard, Mart Kenney, Moxie Whitney the Toronto Pops Orchestra and Hamilton Philharmonic. She has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. She continues to sing with her own band at top venues across Canada.
Eclectic and experimental, Sheep Look Up hit the stage in 1982. While Sheep Look Up began as a solid punk band, they soon adopted punk as an attitude, rather than a straight musical style, and ventured into other musical tastes, even creating their own electronic instruments and soundmaking devices. The band’s first release was the four-song cassette Entropic Concern which charted on Canadian university and college radio stations. The band was also featured on various alternative compilation albums including London Underground, a compilation released by CHRW FM. A self-titled vinyl EP was released in 1986 featuring four songs: “Rapture”, “Falasha”, “Big Heart” and “Spaghetti Western”. The EP received airplay on alternative radio stations across Canada. That same year they were nominated for a CASBY Award. In 1988 a rough mix of their soon to come full-length LP circulated as a demo tape. It featured four songs recorded and produced with Chris Wardman but a final version of the LP was never released. Sheep Look Up released three music videos – all garnered Much Music attention and airplay. Over the course of their career they toured across Canada and the U.S., and opened for some of the biggest acts, including The Fall, The Stranglers, Marianne Faithful, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Shriekback. They set the pace for indie bands in London and became the benchmark of their day.
Denise has performed with many great artists including acclaimed trombonist Ray Anderson, Gospel/Blues legend Jackie Richardson and Flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook. She has opened for Aretha Franklin at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. Denise has performed with symphony orchestras and festivals which have included the du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival (Toronto), Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Royal Canadian Big Band Festival (London), Bluesfest (London), Waterloo Jazz Festival and Sunfest (London), among others. Denise also enjoys acting and has been part of The Grand Theatre (London) seasons performing in the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, Wang Dang Doodle with Denis Simpson and A Streetcar Named Desire. Denise’s one-woman show, Jazzabel premiered in September 2004 at the McManus Theatre (Grand Theatre), London, Ontario to sold out audiences! In October 2005 Jazzabel was performed in Washington, DC at the National Museum for Women in the Arts and in February 2006 to audiences in New York City at Urban Stages Theatre. As well, she was premiered in the February 2006 issue of O (Oprah Winfrey) Magazine. Denise’s recording credits include seven CD’s. She is honoured with being the recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. In 2003 she was named a YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts and Heritage category. In April 2006 the Hyde Park Rotary presented her with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, Rotary’s highest honour. In 2008 and 2014 she won Jazz Artist of the Year at the Jack Richardson awards. In February 2009 the London Black History Committee honoured Denise with the Black Community Achievement Award in recognition of her accomplishments, contributions and support to her community. Denise is a volunteer with Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan and has made eight trips to South Sudan where she helps to deliver a music and art camp for the children. She is also a volunteer with Educate the Children helping to raise funds for a school in Nigeria.
Bass player, fiddler and impresario Jack Fallon would have been 100 on Oct. 13, 2015. So it’s fitting this remarkable man of two Londons goes into the London Music Hall of Fame as a 2015 inductee. He was born in what his friend Spike Milligan of The Goon Show called “a log cabin” – a comment his sister, Sister Rosary (Irene Fallon), corrected to “a log cabin called St. Joseph’s Hospital.” Fallon is being remembered as probably the only musician – and certainly the only London Music Hall of Fame inductee – to have played with The Beatles and Duke Ellington and Lena Horne and Noel Coward and Bob Hope and Sarah Vaughan and Django Reinhardt and jazz legends Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron and country stars Tex Ritter and Tennessee Ernie Ford and bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White – and a host of others. Off-stage, he booked gigs for The Stones and The Beatles early in their careers. Perhaps Jack Fallon’s most widely heard track is Don’t Pass Me By, from The Beatles’ White Album. That’s Jack Fallon on fiddle in 1968, playing a sequence penned by the “fifth Beatle” George Martin. Before The Beatles had lured him out of semi-retirement, Fallon had started his career decades before in a family band playing dances and events in Middlesex County. Growing up in the Ballymote area, Fallon became part of the London dance band scene. He studied with the London Symphony Orchestra founder Bruce Sharpe and played in the Frank Crowley band. He knew future London Music Hall of Famers such as the Lombardo brothers and Alf Tibbs. Jack Fallon stayed in Britain after playing in an RCAF band, the Streamliners, during the Second World War, building on a career that began as a member of a family band playing dances in the London region. He remembered recording with The Beatles fondly. Paul McCartney was at the controls and Ringo Starr played piano. “George Martin, who I had met before . . . had jotted down the 12-bar sequence,” Fallon wrote. Years before, Fallon had been approached by the late Brian Epstein, then the Beatles manager. “Can you use them on Nov. 26 (1962)?” Epstein inquired. Fallon’s Cana agency had booked the Beatles earlier that year for 30 pounds sterling. He booked The Rolling Stones for half that amount in the same year. “They were nice guys, just Liverpool lads,” Fallon said later of the Beatles. When he first met them, the Stones were “polite . . . and neatly dressed,” he recalled. Fallon’s “highly modern-for-its-period bass playing” and “oh-so-attractive Canadian accent” – to quote British critic and cornet player Digby Fairweather – helped him make his mark from classical music at the Royal Albert Hall to jazz to pop. In 1948, Fallon toured with Duke Ellington. The great American band leader was required to use British-based musicians for a small-group tour. “Why, I’m not sure, but he took a fancy to me – in the nicest possible way, of course. Maybe it was because he could understand my Canadian accent, more than the others,” Fallon said. Based in Britain for more than 60 years, Fallon lived in London, England, with his wife, Jean (now deceased), and their family. He was granted the Freedom of the City of London, England, in 2002. Jack Fallon died in 2006. He was 90.
Garth Hudson was born August 2nd, 1937 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to Fred James Hudson and Olive Louella Pentland. His mother played piano, accordion and sang; his father played drums, C melody saxophone, clarinet and flute, and would play piano on Christmas Eve. Garth’s family moved to London, Ontario around 1940. He grew up there and received his education at Broughdale Public School, Medway High School, and the University of Western Ontario. Garth studied piano with Miss Nellie Milligan and Clifford Von Kuster while learning theory, harmony, and counterpoint with Thomas Chattoe. He also played organ for services at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Garth then performed with dance bands and joined a rock and roll group, the Capers, from 1958 through 1961, before becoming the music consultant, organist and saxophonist for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, the ace Arkansas-based rhythm and blues band, from 1961 to 1963. After leaving Hawkins, Levon and the Hawks toured on their own. Albert Grossman’s assistant, Mary Martin, introduced them to Bob Dylan, who recruited them to accompany him on his controversial 1966 folk-rock tour, and they settled near Woodstock, New York. Bob was a frequent visitor to their pink-colored house and Garth recorded their collaborations, resulting in the legendary Basement Tapes. In 1968, the Hawks became known simply as The Band and recorded their seminal debut album, Music From Big Pink. Over the next eight years, The Band continued recording and touring, releasing eight albums and performing for full houses around the world. Among the highlights of these shows for many in the audience, and the other Band members themselves, were Garth’s improvised introductions to “Chest Fever.” The Band called an end to touring with a lavish final concert on Thanksgiving 1976 as documented in Martin Scorsese’s film, “The Last Waltz.” Garth spent the next 16 years in California’s burgeoning music scene, contributing to several movie soundtracks, such as the Academy Award-winning “The Right Stuff” and Martin Scorsese’s films “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy,” among others. He also enjoyed recording and collaborating with other musicians on their albums. A brush fire in 1978 swept through the hills of Malibu and destroyed the Hudson’s new home, Big Oak Basin Dude Ranch, as Garth and his singer/actress wife, Maud, were making renovations. Soon after the fire experience, he composed the Music For Our Lady Queen Of The Angels, a multimedia celebrational environment created in 1980 for the 200th anniversary of the City of Los Angeles by Hollywood veteran costume and set designer Tony Duquette, including a saeta written by Ray Bradbury and narrated by Charleton Heston. Garth continued to perform with The Band frequently through the ’80s and ’90s. He moved back to the Woodstock, New York area in 1991 and recorded three CDs with The Band over the next few years. He has appeared on TV shows, such as Ed Sullivan, Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary, Woodstock ’94, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, Roots 94 (NRK-TV) Norway, Puistoblues Finland. He has recorded and performed with many artists, including Norah Jones, Neko Case, Los Lobos, The Gipsy Kings, Leonard Cohen, Thumbs Carllile, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Marianne Faithfull, Roger Waters, Jennifer Warnes, Cyndi Lauper, Tango Man, the Northern Pikes, Kevin Hearn & Thinbuckle, Barenaked Ladies, John Sebastian, Jessie Winchester, Geoff Muldaur, Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor, Bill Conte, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Moto “The Lion” Sano, Jimmy Sturr, Wild Bill Davis, Clifford Scott, Louisiana Red, Jo-El Sonnier, Emmylou Harris, Champion Jack Dupree, John Anderson, Tommy Spurlock, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and the Flying Burrito Brothers, David Bromberg, Sarah Perrota, the Indigo Girls, Richard Belzer, Sinead O’Connor, Don McLean, Keith Richards, Hirth Martinez, Levon Helm and the Barn Burners, Eric Andersen, Jonas Fjeld, Halvard Bjørgum, The Call, Todd Rundgren, Karla Bonoff, Linda Thompson, The Secret Machines, Jonah Smith, The Sadies, the Big Blue Big Band, Jimmy Vivino of the Conan O’Brien Show, Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show, Evan Dando & The Lemonheads, Donovan, Wilco, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and The Bauls of Bengal. Garth’s long-awaited first solo CD, The Sea To The North, was released in 2001. Garth co-produced and recorded on Burrito Deluxe’s The Whole Enchilada. He is developing a retrospective box set on Levon and the Hawks, 1956 to 1966, and contributed unheard tracks from his personal vault to Capitol Records’ six-disc The Band: A Musical History box set. Garth and Maud released their duo CD, LIVE at the WOLF (opening weekend of Wolf Performance Hall in London), as well as Garth’s CD of Music For Our Lady Queen Of The Angels. In 2007 he recorded at Daniel Lanois’s Toronto studio for Daniel’s album Here Is What Is, as well as appearing in Daniel’s Feature Documentary Film of the same name. Garth produced and released the lauded Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration of The Band in 2010 and has contributed to most of the tracks for The Beautiful Old 2013. Mr. Hudson enjoys producing, composing, arranging and performing with Sister Maud and his eleven-piece band. He lectures around the world, teaches Master Classes when his schedule allows and continues to prepare the syllabus for The GARTH HUDSON Institute featuring his innovative learning methods. • Inducted into the JUNO Hall of Fame (The Band), 1989 • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (The Band), 1994 • Canada South Blues Society, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002 • Hamilton Music Scene Award, Instrumentalist of the Year, 2005 • Hamilton Dofasco Lifetime of Achievement Award (The Band), 2007 • Grammy Lifetime of Achievement Award (The Band), 2008. • Blues Hall of Fame, Legendary Blues Artist, 2012.
He has spent a lifetime in music and his musical forte is jazz. Considered one of Southwestern Ontario’s most respected jazz musicians, John has seen and played it all. Early in his musical career he was booked out of Cleveland and Chicago and toured much of the mid-west United States. During this time he had occasion to sit in with jazz notables such as Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, and Scot LaFaro. Following a few years of road gigs in the U.S., John resettled back in London, Ontario where he currently resides. He led house groups which alternated between two of the city’s most popular night spots; the Iroquois Hotel, and Campbells. Here his trio backed some top instrumentalists and vocalists among which were jazz greats like Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Wingy Manone, Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Jack Brokensha, and vocalists Ernestine Anderson, Jean Turner, Carmen McRae and others. In addition to nightly performances, John attended London Teachers College during the day. He taught with the London Catholic School Board and continued his academic studies at the University of Western Ontario. He graduated from the Faculty of Music in 1979 and retired from his teaching duties in 1993. In addition to theatre and playhouse concerts in London, Petrolia, Sarnia, Grand Bend, and Stratford, he has performed, also, at the Toronto DuMaurier Jazz Festival, the Beaches Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Waterloo Jazz Festival, and the Guelph Jazz Festival.
April is a good month in Dixie Flyers country. The band was founded in London in April, 1974, 40 years ago this month. Founding members were Bert Baumbach (guitar), Dennis LePage (banjo), and Ken Palmer (mandolin). Brian Abbey (bass) and the late Willie P. Bennett (harmonica) joined soon after. Bennett stayed a Flyer until 1979. Baumbach and Palmer, who have been among the group’s lead vocalists, remained constant to the Flyers into this decade. Joining them over the years have been such fiddlers as Gordon Stobbe, Peter Robinson, and J.P. (John) Allen. On bass, there have been David Zdriluk,Donald Christopher Ingram, Luke Maynard and Rick Thompson. On banjo, the Flyers have looked to such players as David Jack, David Talbot, and the late Walter Maynard. Dobro players Allan Widmeyer (aka The Old Houndog) and Darren Parisse and harmonica player Mike Ethelston have been in the lineup, too, as in recent years have banjo player Paul Hurdle and multi-instrumentalist Blair Heddle. “We thought nothing will ever happen with this thing,” Palmer once told The Free Press. “All of a sudden, Bert got us on the Carlisle Bluegrass Canada(festival). That was by 1975. We had a year to practise for that. We met Bill Monroe (there).” The late “father of bluegrass”, Bill Monroe made it clear: “The Dixie Flyers play good bluegrass, they play it the right way.” Later, Monroe invited the young band to the famous Bean Blossom fest in Indiana. By adopting what Palmer has described as an evolutionary rather then revolutionary approach, the Flyers have been Canada’s most prominent bluegrass band, performing at festivals (Mariposa, Winnipeg, Bluegrass Canada, Festival of Friends), fairs, nightclubs and universities across the country. They have also hosted and guested on many TV and radio shows. The Flyers albums include five for Boot Records (a label created by Stompin’ Tom Connors). Their 2007 album Right on Track parlayed three Merle Haggard covers and at least two Jean Chretien mentions into one of the top London albums of the year. The Dixie Flyers join such other great London musicmakers as the Lombardo Family, Jack Richardson, Marie Bottrell and Tommy Hunter in the London Music Hall of Family, a virtual pantheon maintained at jrlma.ca.
Tommy Hunter was inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame on March 20, the night of his farewell concert at the RBC Theatre at the John Labatt Centre. Canada’s Country Gentleman was visibly moved by the cheers from the home-town crowd following the induction. It was part of a post-concert finale at the farewell event as Hunter ended his final Canadian tour in London on his 75th birthday. The management team invited the Jack Richardson Music Awards steering committee to make the induction a part of the night. We are honoured to have been able to do so. Hunter was a CBC-TV star, first with Country Hoedown, then with his own show, for 36 years. Hunter brought many of the biggest names in the business to the forefront early in their careers. He was always surrounded by fine musicians from fiddler Al Cherny to guitarist Red Shea and so many others. He made dozens of recordings, published a best-selling autobiography and is a member of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. He is in the Canadian country music Hall and has been honoured in the U.S. As anyone who was at the final show will tell you, he has continued to excel in live performance as a singer, musician, storyteller and standup comic. Tommy Hunter left London in the 1950s as the demands of his career made him a national and then international star. London has honoured him by naming a street near Brisbin St., where he grew up, for him and saluting him at city council. Through it all, Tommy Hunter has never forgotten his London roots. At that final concert, he picked his way sweetly through his acoustic guitar spot on Wildwood Flower. It was a song taught to him by Edith Hill Adams, the East London-tied music teacher who helped the young Hunter turn his love of country music into a 60-year-plus career. Hunter praised her from the stage and there was applause. “I picked the right night to get it right,” Hunter beamed after finishing the last difficult flourish on Wildwood Flower. The JRLMA is happy to have the chance to honour him at last with the induction. We know it was worth waiting for the right moment.
Born in London, On, 18 of Botrell’s singles made the RPM Country Tracks charts. This included 5 tracks that made it into the top 10. Marie was recipient of the Canadian Country Music Association award for Remale Vocalist of the Year in 1983 and 1984. Bottrell was also a Juno nominee for Country Female Vocalist of the Year each year from 1979 – 1986. Bottrell was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
London is famous across Canada and known around the world for the excellence of its choral music. In announcing the inductees for the London music hall of fame, the Jack Richardson Music Awards steering committee is honoured that the Amabile Choirs of London, Canada have accepted induction into the hall as its first choir. World-class Amabile makes London musical excellence heard around the world. We are delighted to honour Amabile in its 25th anniversary season. Amabile Choirs of London, Canada is an educational program welcoming children, youth and adults who wish to develop their musical talents as part of a vibrant, award-winning choral organization. (Amabile is pronounced Ah-MAH-bee-lay). Active in London, Ontario since 1985, there about 300 Amabile choristers ranging from ages 8 to adult. Together they form a total of eight auditioned choirs (four male choirs and four female ones) plus two ensembles. The Amabile Youth Singers (AYS) was the first choir, a choir for young women, and it was co-founded by Brenda Zadorsky and John Barron in 1985. Brenda continues to conduct the AYS, Prima and the Amabile Young Women’s Ensemble. The Junior Amabile Singers (JAS) was founded in 1989 for younger girls. Today, the JAS and its training choir, Da Capo, are under the direction of Jacquelyn Norman and Wendy Landon. The Amabile Boys and Men’s Choirs, directed by Dr. Carol Beynon and Ken Fleet, were founded in 1990 to provide musical experiences of the highest level for male singers in South Western Ontario. Together, the continuum and depth that Amabile offers is unparalleled by any other choral organization in Canada and Amabile has achieved acclaim on national and world stages for its excellence in choral performance.
The Jack Richardson Music Awards steering committee is proud to induct one of London’s most successful and hardest-working bands, Kittie, into the London music hall of fame in 2010. The JRMA steering committee oversees inductions into the hall at the JRMA annual gala and continues to advocate for a London music hall of fame, hoping to see it one day move from dream to reality. Kittie was founded in London in 1996 by two sisters — drummer Mercedes and singer-guitarist Morgan Lander — as an all-female metal band. Kittie was soon playing clubs in London. The sisters were just 15 and 17 respectively when Kittie’s first album, “Spit,” was released on Artemis records. Kittie rose to success in 1999 when the track “Brackish” from “Spit” became a hit single. “Spit” was quickly Certified Gold and Kittie has sold more than 1.25 million albums worldwide. Kittie was nominated for a Juno as best new artist in 2000. Kittie has toured extensively, playing with such metal notables as Pantera and Slipknot. They have co-headlined the second stage at Ozzfest, performed on the Conan O’Brien show and hosted MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Between October and November of 2008, Kittie embarked on its first European tour in six years. The “Kittie Does Europe” tour included dates in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia. Kittie toured Europe again in the winter of 2010. Kittie released its fifth studio album “In the Black” in September, 2009. The sisters launched their own clothing line called Poisoned Black Clothing and a management company called X of Infamy. Kittie has been back on the road in North America earlier this year with God Forbid and then plays throughout the U.S. with Insane Clown Posse in May and June. Kittie’s members are the co-founding Lander sisters who have been joined by Tara McLeod on guitar and Ivy Vujic on bass in recent years. All four young women are part of the class of 2010, along with Amabile Choirs, as London music hall of fame inductees.
The Jack Richardson Music Awards are pleased to induct one of London’s musical legends, Johnny Downs, into our Hall of Fame this year. Johnny was born in London and received his early training at local schools, and organized his first band in 1939 at the age of 17. In those days, every beach community had a dance pavilion, and Johnny and his band spent that summer before the war playing in Kincardine, quickly establishing themselves as favourites throughout Southwestern and Midwestern Ontario. Summer residencies for the band included Leamington, Midland, Hamilton and, of course, London itself. There was a war going on during these formative years, and, when John graduated from UWO he joined the Canadian Navy, thankfully coming home safe and sound a year later at the end of hostilities. After reforming his band, and working throughout the area once again, the fifties found the Johnny Downs band tagged as the house orchestra at the legendary Stork Club in Port Stanley where they stayed for nine straight years. They continued to be a featured band at the beach front dance hall right up to the late 60s, and, in fact, John and his lovely wife Dorothy chose to spend their retirement years in Port Stanley as well, not far from where the club once stood. Johnny Downs was, however, far more than just the leader of one of the most popular bands in the area’s history. He was also a clever businessman, and applied what he learned at Western to two very different but still musically oriented businesses. Many people do not know that when Capitol Records first came to Canada they set up shop first in London before moving to Toronto in the 60s. John was the original sales manager for Capitol (now EMI) and also acted as somewhat of a talent scout for the label, helping many of the company’s earliest signings develop national profiles. He was a natural promoter as well as a salesman, and was noted for this with recognition by EMI on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary in Canada. John and Dorothy also owned and operated the Latin Quarter Restaurant and Nightclub on Maple Street. It was close enough to the Grand Theatre to be a favourite of the before and after theatre crowd, and was a popular hangout for musicians of all ages on an off night as well. Discounts were the rule of the house for musicians and music business people, and the staff included many of the same musicians who played in the latest edition of the Johnny Downs Orchestra. At one time, there was even a member of the symphony orchestra serving food and drinks wearing the brief but benign Bunny Girl costume that was the uniform of the house. Each generation of the orchestra featured young musicians trying to develop their chops and earn a few dollars, and John loved that because, above all else, he loved musicians. Many young players rented rooms from the Downs family for rates that were lower than one could expect to pay anywhere else. Musician, businessman and philanthropist are all adequate descriptions for any man. That they are all wrapped up in one in Johnny Downs is justification for his inclusion in the Jack Richardson Music Awards Hall of Fame.
Long after the Alf Tibbs dance band played its last note, London remembers its sounds and its leader and pianist. As the leader of “his Lion’s Club Orchestra,” Tibbs was the chief music-maker at the opening of the old Hotel London on July 25, 1927. He was just 23 when he was the man for the grand occasion. One of the key elements in the recent Museum London display Dance Hall Daze showed that Tibbs was a pianist and band leader who could do more, much more, than play the right notes. He knew how to do the right thing. The late Hope (Wolf) Garber – mother of Broadway and film star Victor Garber – was the “blues singer” with Tibbs when she was a teen in the 1940s. A “Gentiles Only” sign greeted her father’s band when it showed up to perform at Grand Bend’s Lakeview Casino. Hope Wolf was Jewish. Tibbs swore his band would never play there again. That combination of moral and musical excellence is one of many reasons the Jack Richardson Music Awards steering committee is proud to announce the induction of Alf Tibbs to the London music hall of fame. He joins Johnny Downs, a dance bandleader in a later era, as our 2009 inductees. Tibbs’s Free Press obituary says the London pianist was close to Guy Lombardo as a teen. Born Jan. 4, 1904, Tibbs wanted to tour with the London bandleader just as Lombardo’s career was taking off. But Tibbs’s grandmother vetoed the idea. Tibbs stayed in London. He led bands in the first days of the old CFPL Radio and Port Stanley’s Stork Club. There is praise for the band in Frank and Nancy Prothero’s majestic How Sweet It Was: Fifty Years at the Stork Club: “Night after night, thousands of (Stork Club fans in the 1930s) found the band of Alf Tibbs the most satisfying dance band around.” During the Second World War, he became MC of a variety show with dancers, stage cowgirls, comedians and music. Like other London-based troupes, Tibbs’s all-stars played at training bases. It appears that the late Don Wright often conducted the ensembles while Tibbs emceed. After the war, Tibbs and his band continued to be active in London music into the early 1970s. He died on April 13, 1976. The Tibbs band’s legacy continues to be felt in London music. The violin played by the late Joe Maycock — Tibbs’s alter ego and better known as the smooth-voiced baritone Gayle Gordon — was recently acquired by one of the city’s top classical musicians. In honouring Tibbs at our 2009 gala, we are thinking also of his fine bands over the years. They include stylish singers, Wolf, Gordon and the late Virginia (Ginny) Mitchell, who died earlier this month.
Orchestra London Canada was a professional Canadian symphony orchestra based in London, Ontario. The orchestra was founded by conductor and violinist Bruce Sharpe in 1937 with the name the London Civic Symphony Orchestra. In 1957 the orchestra changed its name to the London Symphony Orchestra, and it adopted its current name in 1981. After weeks of speculation, the orchestra ceased operations on December 11, 2014 due to massive budget shortfalls. The musicians of the now bankrupt organization formally filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the orchestra on May 22, 2015. Despite this, the contracted musicians of the ensemble have continued to put on self-produced concerts within the London community.
He was a professional musician for eight years before returning to University at U.W.O.'s Music Teacher's College, as it was known as the time. He graduated as the first instrumentalist other than voice or piano with a clarinet major. He also taught for the London Public School board as both a music teacher and department head at H.B. Beal S.S. and Central S.S., among other local board positions. He was an active musician in the London community the entire time, as principal clarinet with the London Symphony Orchestra for 19 years. He also taught a Jazz course at Fanshawe College and hosted a Jazz Radio show. He served as a past president for the London Kiwanis Club with years of membership as well.
Thundermug released two top 40 Canadian singles and five albums over the course of their career which spanned from 1970 – 1976 and 1991 – 2001 when they officially disbanded. The band was initially composed of Joe de Angelis (guitar and vocals), Bill Durst (keyboards and guitar), James Corbett (bass) and Ed Pranskus (drums). Their first album, Thundermug Strikes, recorded at Toronto Sound studios in the spring of 1972, was produced by Greg Hambleton, owner of Axe Records, and engineered Terry Brown. The album resulted in a Canadian Top 30 hit, “Africa”, based on radio interest in what was originally a non-single album song. In 1973, the band recorded its second album, Orbit and the title track was a Top 40 Canadian single. Selections from the first two albums were released in 1973 in the United States by Epic Records, using the title from the first album, Thundermug Strikes. In 1974, the band returned to Toronto to record their third album entitled Ta-Daa, which contained a cover of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car” as the first single. The album was released in the United States on Mercury Records. The band formally disbanded in 2001.
From musician to advertising agency account executive to music producer to record company founder and CIRPA president and instructor of Music Industry Arts, Jack Richardson has covered the music industry from all angles. In the 1950’s Jack performed with many of Canada’s most famous orchestras. Mart Kenny, Ellis McClintock, Art Hallman, Bert Niosi and was a member of the Billy O’Connor show who, with his pet Juliette became a Saturday night institution for CBC television across Canada. In 1960 while working with the McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency he became the account supervisor for the radio and tv side of the Coca-Cola Ltd. account. He was instrumental in the creation and development of the award winning “youth radio” advertising campaign for Coke. The concept involved using current Canadian talent, which was starting to make itself heard. He recorded Bobby Curtola, David Clayton Thomas, J.B. and the Playboys, The Collectors (Chiliwack), Robbie Lane, Jack London and others and of course, The Guess Who, all for Coca-Cola commercials. In 1968, with three business partners, he founded Nimbus 9 Productions and signed their first artist, The Guess Who. In 1972 he designed and built Nimbus 9’s Soundstage Recording Studio, and did the same two years later for the J.A.M.F. disc mastering facility. In 1974/75 Richardson introduced Direct-to-disc audiophile recordings when Nimbus 9 launched the world famous Umbrella Records label. During this time, Richardson work, as a record producer included a diverse roster of Canadian, American and international acts including: The Guess Who, Alice Cooper, The Boss Brass, Bob Seger, Poco, Christopher Ward, Rough Trade, The Association, Badfinger, The Toronto Chamber Orchestra, The Brecker Brothers, Poppa John Creach, Hagood Hardy and the Canadian Brass. Of his 14 albums for The Guess Who alone, 11 were Canadian gold, five were Canadian platinum with five gold and three platinum records in the United States. His records with Alice Cooper and Bob Seger also achieved gold and platinum status in Canada and the U.S. In all, Jack Richardson has produced 27 Billboard charted singles, over 20 Billboard charted albums and has received 38 gold and platinum awards. He was a driving force in the birth of FACTOR (The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings) and in the establishment of CIRPA (The Canadian Independent Record Producers Association) and became its first president. He was chair of the industry advisory board for the Music Industry Arts Project at Fanshawe College, London Ontario in the late 1970’s. In 1985 he became the audio production instructor for the MIA program at the college until his retirement in the mid-2000’s. In 1986 the CARAS/Juno, Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award was presented to him and he is currently a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. SOCAN presented Richardson with their Special Achievement Award in 1988. In 2002 the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences renamed the Juno Producer of the Year Award as the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year. The pinnacle of his career came in 2003 when Jack Richardson was awarded the Order of Canada. On May 13, 2011 at age 81, Mr. Jack Richardson died peacefully in the hospital.
Guy (Gaetano Alberto) Lombardo was born on June 19, 1902 in London, Ontario to Gaetano and Lena Lombardo. Lombardo senior, who had immigrated to Canada from Italy, worked as a tailor, and the family lived on a small house on Queens Avenue in the town of London Ontario. Guy was the eldest of seven children, five boys and two girls, born between 1902 and 1924 and took violin lessons from another Italian immigrant Prof. Venuta. In 1914 Guy with brothers Liebert (drums), Carmen (flute) and neighbour Kreitzer (piano) formed a quartet and played for the local Italian community. In 1920 they heard records of Paul Whitemans band and immediately became fascinated with the sound. They changed instruments to emulate it, Carmen to sax and Liebert to trumpet. By 1922 the group expanded to include more saxes, trumpets and trombone. In the spring of 1923 the Lombardo brothers were hired as the house band for the Hopkins Casino at Port Stanley on Lake Erie. After the band started its second season at the Winter Gardens in London, they traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to make an attempt on the American market. In March of 1924 the Lombardos’ band recorded several songs for the Gennett label. Their sound differed little from that of other white bands of the era, however, and the recordings sold poorly. They soon realized that changes were needed if the orchestra was going to survive. They began to develop their own brand of sweet music, focusing on melody over improvisation. Brother Carmen also helped create a distinct saxophone sound which gave them instant listener recognition and helped set them apart from all the other bands. Their big break finally came in Chicago in 1927 when Guy paid radio station WBBM to broadcast a fifteen-minute segment of their performance at the Granada Cafe. By the end of the night the ballroom was packed and the radio station had received so many calls that they extended the broadcast further into the evening. The musical team played at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1959, and their New Year’s Eve broadcasts (which continued with Lombardo until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria) were a major part of New Year’s celebrations across North America. Even after Lombardo’s death, the band’s New Year’s specials continued to air two more years on CBS. Lombardo never forgot his friends in Ontario, and when the Thames River in London Ontario flooded in 1937 he staged a benefit for flood victims in Detroit’s Fox Theatre. The band opened this engagement with a rendition of Home Sweet Home, moving some in the audience to tears.
For over 30 years Brian Vollmer of HELIX has been rocking you and loving it! With 5 gold and 2 platinum albums under their belt, we saw HELIX release there 13th studio album this past year, “The Power of Rock and Roll” on EMI in Canada, Sanctuary in Europe and Perris Records in the USA! Brian Vollmer’s HELIX stands out as a Canadian rock act that has achieved international success and recognition. HELIX’s music is rooted in classic rock and could easily be compared to AC/DC or Aerosmith (you get the idea.) Check it out!….These guys toured Europe with Motörhead in the eighties and were there with Quiet Riot and Whitesnake in LA for the whole heavy metal explosion that brought bands like Judas Priest and the Scorpions into the mainstream! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When MTV was first launched, Helix was there with their video of “Heavy Metal Love” which went to heavy rotation! Helix was also there for the inaugural year of MUCH MUSIC in Canada and was the first band to give them commemorative gold and platinum albums. Helix has had some of the most successful rock videos of our time (“Rock You” for example.) This is something that sets HELIX apart stylistically from many other successful Canadian bands who originated from that same era. HELIX was a metal band and they had an American record deal on Capital! WOW! In 2007 Brian Vollmer was visited by MTV CRIBS for an introspective look at the legendary singer’s home of “Planet Helix”. Also in 2007 Brian Vollmer let his fans into his personal life once again with his autobiography “Gimme An R” that spans his childhood to his thrust into the world of rock and roll legends. HELIX’s “Heavy Metal Love” was featured in the Trailer Park Boys Movie and Brian and HELIX performed at the movie premiere as well! Brian also has done a cameo on the Trailer Park Boy’s extras! Brian Vollmer has played every small run down bar to the largest concert stadiums in the world! He has shared the stage with the biggest acts in the world. He has graced the covers of all the biggest Rock and Roll rags in the world. He has been TV Royalty on MTV and Much Music, making some of the most memorable rock videos of our generation. He has been to the mountain and has lived to tell the tale through all the highs and lows. Brian is also an accomplished vocal student(33 yrs.) as well and instructor of Bel Canto (the same singing technique used by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet)… (not too many people know that!) Brian and the band continue doing what they do best and that’s performing live and making kick ass records! HELIX are reaching out to its loyal fans and winning over the next generation of head bangers. They have performed with over 200 national recording acts world wide and most recently with Alice Cooper, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Cheap Trick, Dio, April Wine, Swollen Members, and The Trailer Park Boys.
Juno nominated Georgette Fry is an award winning singer/songwriter who has garnered widespread national acclaim as one of Canada’s premiere vocalists. She has many awards and nominations for both her stunning vocals and strong songwriting. After spending time living and playing in London, she has called Kingston home since 1972. Her debut album “Rites of Passage” received a Juno nomination in 1995. Her second release, “Georgette – Live” earned her: the Jazz Report Award for Blues Musician of the Year and two Real Blues Magazine Awards for Best Canadian Blues Vocalist (1997, 1998). Georgette is also a talented songwriter and seven tracks on her third release, “Let Me Drive”, are Fry originals. Her latest release, “back in a moment..” was released in 2007. It is a collection of jazz inspired ballads and has received excellent reviews. She has received four nominations from Maple Blues Awards for “Female Vocalist of the Year”. In January 2004 she received Real Blues Awards for “Best Blues Songwriter”, “Best Blues Release – Female Artist” (Let Me Drive) and Best Canadian Blues Vocalist (Female). In 2005 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Jack Richardson Music Awards in London, Ontario. In 2006 CBC’s “Saturday Night Blues” awarded her the “Great Canadian Blues Award”. Georgette shares this honour with past winners such as Colin James, Long John Baldry and Colin Linden. Georgette has taken her music to many parts of Canada and as far away as South Africa. She has been honoured to have been included on the Toronto Blues Society’s album “Women’s Blues Revue LIVE” and on CBC’s Saturday Night Blues “20 Year Compilation CD”. “With her luscious singing voice, she explores the soulful grey area between blues and jazz, where artists like Etta James and Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt have staked their careers.” Sandy MacDonald, Halifax Daily News
Zuul’s Evil Disco won the coveted Rising Star Award in 2001 at Canadian Music Week. They have also been inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame. Recent Zuul’s Evil Disco sitings were reported at the 2006 Northern Lights Festival during which Zuul’s Evil Disco had to be removed from the stage following an onslaught of fan attacks. Thousands of screaming humans rushed on to the stage to gain contact with the notorious substance. Zuul’s Evil Disco is not harmful to humans but can elicit manic behaviour. Currently, Zuul’s Evil Disco is being monitored by the government’s top health department and not being distributed to the public. The ingredients of Zuul’s Evil Disco. 1. Non-stop movement and energy. 2. Flashy, ridiculous costumes & accessories (i.e. Afro wigs, capes, and dildos). 3. A complete mockery of Rock and Roll stage antics (i.e. synchronized moves) 4. Lyrics that had everything to do with nothing (with an endless supply of the lyric, “Baby”) 5. Progressive funk grooves. 6. Puppets.
63 Monroe came into being in mid 1980 in London Ontario. It wasn’t exactly a new band. It actually was a name change from N.F.G to 63 Monroe. The punk band N.F.G could no longer get work because of their notorious reputation. The members at this point in time were , Steven R. Stunning on vocals, Markii Burnaway on guitar, Mark DeRoux on bass and Pete Lambourghini on drums. The band played its first job as 63 Monroe in Grand Bend, Ontario without incident and got steady work until a very brief break-up in 1981. The band had been recording both live tracks and studio tracks up until this point. The band reformed months later with a new bassist named Pete Dekoker and a new drummer Jeff (Rooster) Rooth just in time for the release of their debut recording , an E.P titled “63 Monroe /N.F.G.”. In 1983 the new line up released acassette titled “Reign of Terror”. Soon after the band signed on with Savvy records and released two singles. Oddly, these singles were both cover tunes; Henry VIII and a ripping version of “White Christmas”. In 1985 the band released “Stinkin out the Joint”perhaps their best known release. The band supported this album playing many gigs including CBGB’s in New York city. Jeff Rooth, the bands tremendously talented drummer, passed away unexpectedly. Joe Kettlewell was recruited to play drums for the band. 63 Monroe’s greatest asset is their wildly energetic live performances. Taking nothing away from their recorded work, it was almost impossible for this energy to be transformed on to their recordings. If you saw them live you rarely walked out of the show disappointed.
Formed in 1965 in London Ontario the band was founded by Hugh McIntyre, John Clement, John Boyle, Bill Exley, Murray Favaro, Archie Leitch, Art Pratten, and Greg Curnoe. Leitch has since retired, Curnoe was killed in a bicycle accident in 1992, and McIntyre died of heart failure in 2004. The band members are mostly local artists. The term “Spasm” refers to their use of homemade instruments. Most of the NSB’s instruments are modifications of other instruments, or wholly invented by the members. In addition to the homemade instruments the band performs live improvised material. The range of the improvisation is such that instruments are not tuned to each other, tempos and time signatures are not imposed, and the members push the ranges of their instrumentation by engaging in constant innovation. The Nihilist Spasm Band is generally credited as “the first noise band.”
Originally formed in London Ontario 1977, the band consisted of vocalist Keith Whittaker, guitarist Rob Brent bassist Iain Atkinson-Staines and drummer J. D. “Jimmi” Weatherstone. Through 1978, the band were rising stars in the Canadian punk scene. They recorded their debut EP in the fall of that year. The EP’s single, “New York City” released on Ready Records was a breakthrough hit on radio across Ontario and Canada 1979. Brent left the band and went on to form the post punk/new wave band, “Mettle” as guitarist and synth player. Steve Koch replaced him. The band released a self-titled full-length album in 1980, but subsequently broke up due to internal tensions. In 1996, a new CD compiling both of the band’s original albums titled New York City was released domestically on Huge Records. Also that year, “New York City” was named the greatest Canadian song of all time in a reader poll by National Chart Magazine. Vocalist Keith Whittaker died of cancer July 1996. Guitarist Rob Brent died of a heart condition November 5th 2014 at the age of 57.