Some of you with encyclopedic music memories may remember an Ottawa-based band called The Cooper Brothers. They created a buzz in the late seventies by being the only Canadian band to be signed to Phil Walden’s Macon, Georgia-based Capricorn Records. A label which sparked a `Southern Rock’ music movement with high-profile releases by the likes of The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie and Elvin Bishop.
The Cooper Brothers, powered by brothers Dick and Brian Cooper and lead vocalist Terry King, enjoyed success with two albums; their self-titled debut and `Pitfalls Of The Ballroom which spawned one mega single in “The Dream Never Dies” plus other hits like “I’ll Know Her When I See Her”.
Yet even at the zenith of the band’s high-profile career, lead guitarist and chief songwriter Dick Cooper was preparing for life after The Cooper Brothers. “I had always wanted to be a writer and as I was the none-drinker in the band, I was able to focus on what was going on behind the scenes and I made copious notes”, information Cooper used in penning his novel `Jukebox’(General Store Publishing House).
Originally published in 2007, and recently revamped and re-published, `Jukebox’ tells the story of Poet Springs, formerly of Southern rock band `Boyslost’ which came to a demise after the decline of their US label `Big South’ and the subsequent death of their lead singer Wally in a tragic car accident.
Cooper acknowledges Boyslost (a reference to Peter Pan) pays homage to The Cooper Brothers, the villainous Big South Records is a not-so-loose reference to Capricorn Records while brother Brian, former frontman Terry King (who died in 1998) and even Les Emmerson, former producer, fellow musician and lead vocalist of Five Man Electrical Band are also characterized in the book.
“Too many books are all about sex, drugs and rock n’roll but I wanted to write an intelligent book,” explained Cooper. “Yes there are elements of sex, drugs and rock n roll in Jukebox, but the story is an honest look at the trials and tribulations of someone who is living off the memories of his rock music career and the obstacles he faces in trying to forge a new life for himself.”
Cooper is asked whether he agrees that the characterization of this book is somewhat similar to the character structures of Guy Ritchie movies. Ritchie being the former husband of Madonna whose films like Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Rock’ N Roller deals with a number of separate characters and incidents which eventually converge together as the central plot becomes more into focus.
“Yes, I can relate to that,” agrees Cooper. “I’ve actually had two offers for movie rights to my book but the money fell through, still it would be great if I could get `Jukebox’ made into a movie.”
A subplot in the movie is the stock manipulations of an Ottawa-based high tech company called Deltech which features prominently in the book. “This involvement is real, I used to play tennis against these guys, guys who made and then lost multi-million dollar fortunes overnight.
Without giving too much away, the book doesn’t end with a Boyslost reunion, mass acceptance and a successful tour of Japan (hello Spinal Tap) but there is a vague reference to the guys playing a charity concert for the local rec centre.
“Yes, this is more realistic,” noted Cooper. “Like Poet, I am realistic about launching a major comeback. I know it’s not going to happen. Yet still, I hear “Dream Never Dies” on the radio, I still get royalty cheques and we are working on a new CD to be released in late March or early April.
Brother Brian works for the Government in Ottawa while Dick has achieved success as a creative director for Artech Studios as a designer of video games and he was a writer for the `You Can’t Do That On Television’, a kids show which introduced a young Alanis Morissette to the masses. A group of musicians are on call to fill out the band when The Coopers hit the road again later this year and Cooper has a second novel all set to go sometime in the next year or so, once he has time to focus more time on the project.