So what sparked me to relaunch Music Express magazine after an absence of almost 20 years you ask! Call it an epiphany if you will but on Saturday August 25th, I attended a concert at Toronto’s Ex at the CNE featuring Trooper.
[quote]Click here to vote Trooper into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame![/quote]At that time, I was working at the CNE for security company G4S and was putting in my two-week stint working the Midway Stage Beer Garden. I noticed Trooper was set to perform on the Saturday at the Bandshell so I wangled a night off to check out my old mates.
I say this patronizingly because one of the first bands I ever interviewed was Trooper for my debut issue of Alberta Music Express back in the summer of 1976. They were performing their first major Canadian tour opening for Bachman Turner Overdrive and I caught them in concert at the old Calgary Corral, I was aware of their current hit, `Two For The Show’ but it was the infectious good humour they delivered opening for BTO that won me over.
Since that time, I have had the pleasure of catching Trooper on numerous occasions including a memorable performance in 1979 at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium where they totally blew away headliners Heart and Peter Frampton in a show that marked keyboardist Frank Ludwig’s last performance (at that time) with the band.
Flash forward to August 25th 2012. Trooper is still performing, still entertaining and winning over a crowd of some 15,000 fans, young and old with an irresistible set list which culminates with `Raise A Little Hell’ a track that comedian/TV host Rick Mercer says should be Canada’s national anthem.
I realized that night that Trooper is still relevant, still winning over the fans and with `Cold Water’ still capable of writing a new hit song. Chatting with Ra and Brian backstage and being greeted like a long-lost brother triggered my desire to re-launch Music Express – and the very first contribution I made was a concert review of that show.
In writing the review, I questioned why Trooper had not been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame. As that review ran in the debut E-Mag I received instant response from the likes of former Muchmusic veejay Terry David Mulligan, Lisa Haas and White Rock Sun editor Dave Chesney informing me that a petition to draft Trooper into the 2013 class of the Music Hall Of Fame was indeed in action.
“It was when Blue Rodeo won the award this year that I started to think about Trooper,” remarked Dave Chesney, editor of White Rock Sun’s internet newspaper. “I can remember Blue Rodeo playing around Toronto clubs while Trooper was selling out hockey arenas. Nothing against Blue Rodeo but I do feel Trooper also deserves this award. So I was talking to Stirling Faux, morning host at AM650 and he agreed and decided to champion a petition to get the band inducted.
So what is the process for a Canadian band or artist to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame? According to CARAS president, Melanie Berry “Fans, artists and industry supporters contact CARAS directly to start campaigns for artists or groups for consideration for induction. We then share those results with our board of directors. One inductee is determined and announced each year. The final decision is made solely by the CARAS board of directors.”
That final line is the key to anyone’s success at being inducted. It’s an internal decision made by the board of directors…a closed decision. So who are 14 board members who make this decision? They are CARAS president, Melanie Berry, CARAS chairman Ed Robinson; Shane Carter, President of Sony Music Canada; Deane Cameron, ex-President of EMI Canada; Humphrey Kadaner, President Mastermind; Bruce Allen, President Bruce Allen Talent; Vivian Barclay, GM for Warner Chappell Publishing; Jeff Craub, SL Feldman Agency; Erik Hoffman, VP Live Nation; Steve Kane, President of Warner Music Canada; Jason Klein of Taylor, Mitsopoulis, Klein; Randy Lennox, President Universal Music Canada; Julien Paquin, President Paquin Agency; Jeffrey Remedios, President Arts & Crafts.
So to succeed in any vote, a winning artist needs to be able to trigger an internal lobby in their favour. Most years, it’s hard to argue with the winning recipient, most major Canadian artists who were due to win have indeed collected the award. Of the 1970’s golden era; The Guess Who, Rush, Triumph, Loverboy, April Wine and this year Blue Rodeo have all claimed the title – so what chance does Trooper have this year.
[quote]“I have used Trooper references during my entire career. It all goes back to my sister. She had the Hot Shots album and she wouldn’t let me go near her record player or touch her records, but when she left the house, I’d play it over and over again. You could say Hot Shots was my White Album.”
– Rick Mercer[/quote]When you consider that 70’s golden era, aside from Bachman Turner Overdrive, who refuse to be considered because of the on-going feud between Randy Bachman, Fred Turner, Robbie Bachman and Blair Thornton, Trooper is the one major band that have yet to win the award. You can’t ignore their credits. The first Canadian recording act to sell 400,000 copies of their Hot Shots Greatest Hits album, toured constantly for 37 years. They have enjoyed numerous hits, several multi-platinum selling albums for a band that has played probably every venue in every province multiple times.
Yet they probably will not win this year because I don’t believe they have the lobby pull with the existing CARAS board. A strong indicator of this is the reaction of one board member, Randy Lennox. Now President of Universal Music Canada, Randy was VP of Sales for the label when Trooper sold 400,000 copies of their Hot Shots album. Yet when asked if he would endorse a vote for Trooper in 2013, his response was “I love the guys. However, I’ve been asked to support three other submissions this year already, and as you can imagine (for this year anyway) it would look silly for me to throw my hat in the ring for that many artists in one cycle.”
So who are these other three nominees? If Trooper is not being considered, who else are candidates? If the award is to have any historical significance, and BTO are not being considered, who does that leave.
Shania Twain won in 2011, but you have to wonder how someone so current could win a Hall Of Fame award – unless they really needed her at the ceremonies! Then you start getting into 80’s bands like The Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies or Celine Dion, but again, we are talking about relatively current performers. So if not Trooper you have possibly Sarah McLachlan, my pet hunch, but eventually Trooper has to be considered.
One staunch supporter is Rick Mercer who has featured Trooper singing Raise A Little Hell on This Hour Has 22 Minutes; New Year’s Eve special and has spotlighted them several times on his Rick Mercer Report show.
“I have used Trooper references during my entire career,” Mercer told journalist Jim Leary. “It all goes back to my sister. She had the Hot Shots album and she wouldn’t let me go near her record player or touch her records, but when she left the house, I’d play it over and over again. You could say Hot Shots was my White Album.”
Hey, Trooper might not receive the accolade in 2013, but keep up to pressure guys. Eventually Trooper has to receive this honor.
In closing, special thanks to Agency 71’s Chad Maker and Darryl Spreen for being the creative force between the rebirth of Music Express. Many of you have been congratulating me but really Chad and Darryl deserve the credit. Kudos also to photographers Charles Hope, Ian Mark and Ted Van Boort and writers Karen Bliss, Kerry Doole, Brian Stanko and Roman Mitz for their invaluable contributions.
It has been such a thrill to reconnect with the likes of Mark Holmes, Alan Frew, Klaatu’s Terry Draper, Triumph’s Mike Levine, Colin James, Steve DeMarchi and Freddy Curci of Alias and The Spoons’ Gord Deppe. Great to see everyone is still recording, touring and making a creative presence. Trust everyone will continue to log on to themusicexpress.ca. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
Click here to vote Trooper into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame!
Photography By: Ian Mark