Alex Lifeson – Music Express 45th Anniversary – 2021
“Congratulations, Keith, to you and Music Express Magazine’s 45th Anniversary and to a long future going forward.” – Alex Lifeson
Sportswriter Keith Sharp, freelancing for Calgary Herald entertainment department executes a feature interview with Calgary’s The Stampeders, returning to execute headline show at the annual Stampede Rodeo. Entertainment editor pans Thursday concert so the Herald pulled my Saturday feature.
Determined to publish the said story, Sharp is encouraged by the local record industry to print features in my own magazine. Spend July-September interviewing anyone I could reach including Randy Bachman, Trooper, Bay City Rollers and that Stampeders’ story. Kelly’s – Joe Thompson agrees with instore retail distribution, Alberta Music Express debuts with The Who’s Roger Daltrey on that debut cover.
Encouraged by the record industry response and a positive reaction for Kelly’s customers, decide to publish a second issue, Burton Cummings on the cover, and continue Alberta Music Express as a hobby while maintaining my day job at the Calgary Herald.
A special thanks to Burton Cummings for this 45th Tribute Video – From Music Express 2021!
March 16-17, 1977
Queen perform two nights at Calgary Jubilee Auditorium (Thin Lizzy opened) After the first night, photographer Ian Mark shot some amazing live shots. On the second night, I presented those photos to Queen’s road manager who invited Ian and me into Queen’s dressing room so the band could thank us personally. There and then, decided to take Music Express seriously as the magazine expanded its circulation (name change to B.C, Sask and Manitoba via Kellys) thus changing our name to Music Express (ME).
May 1, 1977
Lou Blair, manager of Calgary nightclub, The Refinery (and the future Loverboy manager) passed on a proposal to invest in Music Express, but his accountant, Conny Kunz, indicated that she was interested in getting involved in the magazine. So at a nearby Mexican restaurant (called Primos) Conny (The Dragon Lady as she would eventually be nicknamed) and I hatched a plan to move forward with Music Express, she arranged our first office at the front of Northern Lights And Sound at 455 Manitou Road.
May 14, 1977
First Music Express road trip. Columbia Records’ Terry Magee arranged for me to fly out to Seattle to execute a cover story on Heart who was headlining a major concert to celebrate the release of their second album `Barracuda’. Also interviewed members of Foreigner, Prism and Stephen Bishop.
The late 1970s
Thanks to the CRTC’s decision to initiate 30% Canadian content rules, ME was inundated with interview requests with artists/bands like Rush, Triumph, BTO, Trooper, Max Webster, Prism, Streetheart and Harlequin all appearing on our pages. The Calgary Mafia music industry group of Brimstone Productions promoter Dave Horodezky, Studio City Music booking agency’s Greg Thomas, The Refinery’s Lou Blair, Mootown Records’ boss Doug Wong, and record company reps, (Polygrams’s Ken Graydon, WEA’s Alex Clarke, Capitol’s Ollie Kornelson, Columbia’s Bryan Tucker, A&M’s Neil McGonigill and London’s Jim Fotheringham) all actively supporting ME.
Informed by Northern Sound And Lights chief Brent Rawlinson that a Vancouver band, Sweeney Todd was set to perform a late-night gig at the warehouse after renting backline gear for a Western Tour. The band had enjoyed a hit with “Roxy Roller” but lead vocalist Nick Gilder and guitarist James McCullouch had left for Chrysalis U.S and the band had recorded a second album, If Wishes Were Horses featuring a 16-year-old kid called Bryan Guy Adams. Conny and I were told to protect our records and stuff, when Conny spots this kid, hovering around our office. “I think it’s past your bedtime son,” she said, only for Bryan to sheepishly announce that he was the lead singer of Sweeney Todd, pointing to a poster of the band on the warehouse wall. And so sparked an exciting long-term relationship between Bryan Guy Adams and Music Express.
Still working for the Calgary Herald sports department, I was assigned to cover the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, but on returning back to Calgary, I learned that some of my key beats had been assigned to new senior writers and I was back where I started as the paper’s junior staffer – so I quit and devoted all of my energies to Music Express.
“Keith! Congrats on 45 yrs of Music Express!” From your pals in Trooper
I met Streetheart guitarist Paul Dean at the house of Fosterchild frontman Jim Foster inadvertently helped create the formation of Loverboy. I interviewed Dean about the success of their debut album ‘Meanwhile Back In Paris’ only for him to call me back and tell me he had just been kicked out of the band. I suggested he attend the annual Studio City Agency talent showcase where local bands auditioned for artists at SAIT College and it was there that he hooked up with Mike Rynowski (soon to be called Mike Reno). I also suggested keyboardist Doug Johnson who was playing with another local band, All The Rage In Paris and so sparked the creation of Loverboy.
Having realized Conny and I had outgrown Calgary we first thought about moving to Vancouver and drove out there to discuss such a move. And in November, I flew to Toronto to inform the national-based industry of our move. But the day I arrived, Canada’s only other music mag, The New Music’ folded and I was encouraged to move east instead. I met Roman Mitz during that visit, he had worked at The New Music and enthusiastically agreed to work for ME.
Music Express 45th Anniversary Tributes
“Hey, Keith, Congratulations Pal. 45 down, only another 45 to go! Music Express…Nothing short of ‘Iconic’ Cheers!” Sam, Al, Alan, and Wayne – Glass Tiger 2021
“Congrats on 45 years of excellence ME. Whatever you do next, just don’t dress like these guys.”
“Congratulations on 45 years of publishing Music Express” Billy Duffy – The Cult
“Well done, Music Express! 45 years is quite an accomplishment. You are and will always be part of Canadian music history. Here’s to the many adventures yet to come.” – Gord Deppe – the SPOONS