“My, my. Hey hey. Rock and roll will is here to stay. It’s better to burn out, than to rust away. My, my. Hey hey” (Neil Young, “My my. Hey hey“ Rust Never Sleeps, 1978).
Canada knows how to rock, and no, Celine Dionne does not sing rock and roll music, that is pop (goes the weasel?) music. April Lavigne? Pop again. The Black Crowes, The Tragically Hip, The Downchild Blues Band, Neil Young and many others will guide you through a foot-stamping, body-moving, soul-searching, rock and roll hoochie coothie ride.
Many people, when thinking of Canadian rock and roll groups, think of Rush and The Bare Naked Ladies. They are two well-known and extremely successful rock and roll bands, but have followed the mainstream American top-40 music trends. Canadian rock and roll bands should reflect their nationality, and not be afraid to promote their home towns. Canada is a hot bed for Indie rock bands, but rock and roll is here to stay.
The Tragically Hip, from Kingston, Ontario, and a very similar sounding group named The Black Crowes, out of the center of the Universe (yes, Toronto), are extremely energetic, sing anthem-type, body moving songs and generate million in sales annually. From anthems like “Fifty Mission Cap” (a song about Bill Burrilko, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who went fishing after scoring a Stanley Cup winning goal, and whose body was not found until the day the Leafs next won the cup), “That Night in Toronto” “Little Bones” and “She Talks To Angels”. The Hip have over 28 albums, including best-of cuts.
Neil Young is the iconic rock and roll star that rears from Canada, and was once well known for his musical feud with Lynyrd Skynyrd. With too many rock anthems to mention, from “Pocohontos”, “Cinnamon Girl”, Down By The River”, “Old Man”. Southern Man”, and the entire Live Rust album are just the foundation that holds Neil Young’s most popular songs, worldwide. With a well-known and extremely well-loved grouping with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, more and more anthems were released and still play regularly today on all rock stations. Neil Young may well be the best Canadian rock star.
However, let’s not forget about a fellow named Brian Adams, and one of his high school cohorts in Ottawa in Kim Mitchell (“Patio Lanterns“), of the iconic rock band Max Webster, Band of “A Million Vacations” rock anthem fame. Brian Adams went to junior school in Ottawa, before moving to Vancouver, where recording studios were calling. “Summer Of ‘69”, “Cuts Like A Knife” and “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” are just the tip of the iceberg for Brian Adams’s song list.
Canadian rock and roll could not be mentioned without bringing up The Guess Who. With Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, along with a soon to be icon and living legend in Burton Cummings, The Guess Who are responsible for such rock anthems as “Let It Ride”, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet”, “Let It Ride” and many others that have seen the Guess Who, along with other acts mentioned here, inducted into the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Burton Cummings is a rock star in his own rights. A living legend behind such songs as “These Eyes”, “Undone” and “Laughing”, as well as “Share The Land”, and many other Canadian-inspired anthems.
What separates a rock musician from a rock and roll band is not just familiarity or record sales, but a well-founded fan base that lasts through the decades. Blue Rodeo definitely qualifies for a showing in Canadian rock and roll bands, if not iconic rock and roll bands. As does the anthem inspired Nickelback.
With too many Canadian rock and roll bands to mention, from the early days of rock in the mid-fifties, to the acid rock of the 60’s, and even the disco craze of the 70’s, Canadian music is a lot more than Joan Jett (although she was a very intelligent and melodic singer and song writer) and Anne Murray.