Former LFP reporters compile conversations with 130 musicians and bands popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s into one book

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Remember that band that played the song that was popular on the radio for a month back in the mid 60’s?

You know the one I’m talking about – they had that catchy tune. Everybody was singing it.

Although most people may not be able to remember those Canadian one-hit wonders that stepped into the limelight for a short time and faded into obscurity shortly thereafter, author and former London Free Press reporter Mark Kearney probably does.

After spending several years interviewing Canadian musicians and bands from the 1950s, 60s and 70s with his partner-in-writing, Ottawa-based writer/journalist Randy Ray, in the mid-80s for a regularly syndicated column, the pair recently compiled those conversations into their 10th book, entitled As The Years Go By … Conversations with Canada’s Folk, Pop & Rock Pioneers.

“In the mid-80s there had been an article in Rolling Stone. It was sort of a where-are-they-now story about these various rock bands in the states from the 50s and 60s. So I thought, we should be able to do something like that, but for Canadian bands,” Kearney recalled.

Still in regular contact with Ray, a former colleague of Kearney’s at the London Free Press, the pair began contacting rock, folk and pop artists who had left public consciousness since the height of their popularity.

Over the course of between three and four years, Kearney and Ray met and spoke with 130 musicians and bands. From those conversations they wrote a weekly column that was picked up by newspapers across the country.

“The column sort of ran its course… but even back then we said, ‘One of these days we should do this as a book, we should put it all together as a book.’ Finally, last summer we said let’s do it, and it would come out in time for Canada’s 150th birthday,” Kearney said.

Among the conversations detailed in the book, a handful are told by bands and musicians from Southwestern Ontario, including Motherlode, The Bluesmen Revue, Graham Lear, Grant Smith, Lighthouse, Doug McArthur, The Raes, and Priscilla Wright.

“One of the bands was Copperpenny. Copperpenny was sort of big in the 70s and they had a bunch of hits. One of the guys (Kenny Hollis) in Copperpenny ran Lulu’s Roadhouse, which was a bar in Kitchener, a huge bar, that in the 80s… all these music acts from the 60s played Lulu’s,” Kearney recounted.

When Kearney first called Hollis, the musician-turned bar manager thought he was calling to write a story on one of the bar’s upcoming shows. So, much to the disappointment of the members of Herman’s Hermits – the band that was playing at Lulu’s that night – Kearney had a great conversation with Hollis about his life post-Copperpenny.

“It was kind of fun to go in and talk to him in his new job, while there’s all these posters of all these British bands on the walls,” Kearney laughed.

In compiling the book, Kearney and Ray spent a lot of time updating their columns based on what they could find on the internet about the musicians they had talked to.

“I hadn’t really looked at those stories for some time – they were in a scrapbook. So, it was kind of good to go back in and rework them a bit to just kind of remember how much fun it was, and then to have a bit of that challenge to see if I could find anything else about them since that time,” Kearney said.

As The Years Go By can be purchased in either paperback or e-book format online through Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, or on Kearney and Ray’s website, The e-book contains links to YouTube videos of and websites for the musicians Ray and Kearney talked to.

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