King Biscuit Boy
[aka Richard Newell] (harmonica)
[aka Blake Fordham] (vocals, piano)
(drums; replaced Atamniuk 1970)
(keyboards; replaced Bell 1970)
(keyboards; replaced Chirowski 1977)
(bass; replaced Greenway 1977)
Crowbar's roots can be traced back almost as far back as Roly Greenway's career. Greenway first played guitar in The Centurys (1958) who were based in Guelph and featured Ed Dameron (bass), Rick Cassolato (drums), Glenn Higgins (sax) and an unidentified drummer. Greenway would then go on to perfrom in Joe Pino & The Starlites (1962), and The Ascots (1963). It was in the Ascots that he met guitarist Rheal Lanthier and the two played the Vegas lounge circuit for two years with the likes of Liberace and Zsa Zsa Gabor. The band broke up from sheer boredom and returned to Canada where Greenway joined Bobby Curtola's touring band.
In 1967, Greenway reformed the band with Lanthier as the New Ascot Revue where they recruited Kelly Jay, piano player/vocalist, and world renowned harmonica player Richard Newell aka King Biscuit Boy. Newell had gotten his nickname during his tenure playing on and off with Ronnie Hawkins. Hawkins had asked Newell to assemble a new band so he grabbed the New Ascots plus Richard Bell (keyboards), John Gibbard (guitar) and Larry Atamaniuk (drums) to create the latest version of Hawkins' band called ...And Many Others.
Hawkins took the band to some of the most prestigious venues in rock including the Filmore East playing on a bill with the likes of Joe Cocker, Johnny Winter, and Mountain. However, as was Hawkins' unpredictability, in 1970 while at the Grange Tavern in Hamilton, Hawkins came into the bar and fired the whole band exclaiming: "You guys are so crazy you could f*ck up a crowbar in three seconds!". And thus a band, and a band name, was born.
The act resumed with a slight personnel change - Sonnie Bernardi replaced Atamaniuk on drums and Jozef Chirowski replaced Bell on keyboards. Along with King Biscuit Boy, Crowbar cut the 'Official Music' album on credit from Terry Brown and Doug Riley's Toronto Sound production facility. It was the first Daffodil Records release July 13, 1970. Critics were unanimous in their appraisal of the band. The ensemble toured with their most memorable performance at the Strawberry Fields Rock Festival near Toronto in the summer of 1970. In late 1970, King Biscuit Boy and Crowbar parted ways - he to write material for the 'Gooduns' album; they to prepare for the debut album 'Bad Manors'.
Within three months, the international release of the album again garnered critical acclaim from magazines such as Creem and Rolling Stone. Crowbar was the first act to launch a record in the legislation era (a law designating the implementation of 30% mandatory Canadian content by all radio stations) with the single "Oh, What A Feeling".
The song was also featured on the live album recorded at Massey Hall, 'Larger Than Life', which was certified gold within 3 weeks of its release. Unfortunately, due to the drug connotation to lyrics in "Oh, What A Feeling", the tune failed to gain airplay in the United States. It did do well in England, however.
As part of Pierre Trudeau's bid to gain the youth vote, his wife Margaret Trudeau (who was a Crowbar fan) asked the band to become the opening act of Trudeau's re-election campaign in 1972. With rallies in such venues as Maple Leaf Gardens, Trudeau won the campaign and Crowbar became a household name. However, their popularity also spawned the need to incorporate and hire industry people to handle their affairs under the management of Martin Onrot.
While Daffodil Records was negotiating a new distribution with A & M Records, Crowbar was lured away by Clive Davis to join Columbia Records in New York and signed to their affiliate Epic Records. Their debut album for the label, 'Million Dollar Weekend', was produced by Jack Richardson (Guess Who) fledgling production apprentices Jack Douglas and Bob Ezrin.
A second album for Epic was released in 1974, but the failure to have any sizable commercial success led the band to officially split up later that year.
After several years in other personal projects, the members re-united (with the exception of Chirowski who had joined the Alice Cooper Band) with two new members - Ray Harrison (keyboards) and Rick Birkett (bass) - for a winter tour in 1977-78 following which the band split up once more. Kelly Jay would go on to have an intermittent solo career; Roly Greenway was in the band Next briefly in 1976; Ray Harrison co-founded Shooter who released one album on GRT.
Fast forward to 1996 and the original Crowbar reunited without Kelly Jay for some good time revival shows. With Kelly Jay flying in for gigs in recent years, Crowbar occasionally plays event shows when they can.
with notes from Francis W. Davies, Brad Cassolato and Roly Greenway
as KING BISCUIT BOY AND CROWBAR
Corrina, Corrina/Cookin' Little Baby (Daffodil) DFS-1001
with BLAKE FORDHAM (aka KELLY JAY)
Uncle Pen/Roberta (London) M-17385
as RIP VAN WINKLE
Prince of Peace/Prince of Peace (Instrumental) (Daffodil) DFS-1004
Oh What A Feeling/Murder In The First Degree (Daffodil) DFS-1004
Happy People/Mountain Fire (Daffodil) DFS-1009
Too True Mama/In The Dancing Hold/Train Keep Rolling [3-sided 7"] (Daffodil) DFS-1012
Fly Away/Newspaper Song (Daffodil) DFS-1014
Ask Me No Questions/In The Dancing Hold (Daffodil) DFS-1019
Hey Baby/The Beaver And The Eagle (Daffodil) DFS-1021
Dreams/Cluckie's Escape (Daffodil) DFS-1029
House Of Blues Lights/Let The Four Winds Blow (Daffodil) DFS-1038
Higher & Higher/Nothing Lasts Forever (Epic) 5-11008
Million Dollar Weekend/Something Happened Yesterday (Epic) 5-11050
All The Living Things/[same] (Epic) 5-11104
Call Me A Cab/Blue Light Boogie (World) WRC3-4993
House Of Blue Light (independent) CX-0410
as KELLY JAY & BAD MANORS
If You Play Your Cards Right (Ya Gets Me)/Hopelessly Hopeless (Columbia/CBS) C4-4077
as KING BISCUIT BOY AND CROWBAR
Official Music (Daffodil) DS-1000001
Bad Manors - Crowbar's Golden Hits Vol. 1 (Daffodil) SBA-16004
Larger Than Life (Daffodil) SBBX-16007
Heavy Duty (Daffodil) SBA-16013
Crowbar Classics - Memories Are Made of This (Daffodil) SBA-16030
Million Dollar Weekend (Epic) EPC-80046
KE32746 (Epic) KE-32746
The Best Of Crowbar [re-issue] (Daffodil) DFN-668
Live At The Whiskey-A-GoGo (Unidisc)
"Snakes And Ladders" on 'Concept' (ARC)
"Beaver And The Eagle" on 'Maple Music Vol.1 (MMJ)
"Million Dollar Weekend" on 'Music Power' (K-Tel) TC-214
"Oh What A Feeling" on 'Made In Canada - Volume Two: Into The '70's' (BMG)
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