Gary O'Connor is the son of the late big band leader Billy O'Connor (who was one of the first Canadians to have their own television show).
O'Connor's musical career started with his interest in drums, but after trading another kid a tuna sandwich in exchange for guitar lessons he developed a love for rock music. As a teen in the 1960s he was first a member of the group The Synics, and then later the Spasstiks who would have commercial success after changing their name to Cat in 1968.
"Doin' The Best We Can" was their first single on Apex and helped them land impressive opening slots for the likes of The Guess Who, Lighthouse, Neil Diamond and Janis Joplin.
The group was soon discovered by Jack Richardson and was signed to a development deal with Richardson's Nimbus 9 Productions which, in turn, led to a record deal with RCA in New York.
The first single, "Light Of Love", failed to make any noise, but the next -- "We're All In This Together" -- featuring Richardson's fledgling engineer, Bob Ezrin on keyboards, helped the band land some chart action.
A Festival Express train that took entertainers across Canada from town to town took Cat on tour in 1970 which followed hot on the heels of the single and self-titled debut album.
Soon creative differences would eat away at the members and they recorded briefly as Fast Eddie before finally calling it quits in 1972.
O'Connor's next band was as replacement guitarist/vocalist in the self-proclaimed first tribute band to the Beatles called Liverpool in the Fall of 1976. O'Connor was with them for their final two singles of original material on Taurus Records, but the label soon experienced financial troubles and Liverpool found themselves without a home.
O'Connor briefly formed his own band called Kid Rainbow before re-forming with members of Liverpool as Aerial. Ray Danniels re-signed the band to his next label Anthem Records. The band's debut album, "In The Middle Of The Night" was released in 1978 and featured the radio hit "Easy Love" written by O'Connor.
Friction in the band over getting more representation for his songs caused O'Connor to pursue a solo career and in 1979 he was signed to a development deal with Capitol Records in the US under the moniker GARY O'. Over the next two years he worked honing his songwriting chops and spent time on the executive board of the Toronto Musicians's Association.
In early 1981 his self-titled debut album was released on Capitol and featured several radio hits including "All The Young Heroes", a cover of the Hollies' "Pay You Back With Interest" and "I Believe In You" which was originally released by Cat back in 1968 as the B-side to "Doin' The Best I Can".
With manager Stephen Glass at the helm, O'Connor moved to RCA Records for his sophomore LP 'Strange Behaviour' in 1984. The record was completely performed by O'Connor with the help of some friends like Klaatu's Dee Long at ESP Studios and engineer Brian Bell. This album also produced three singles: "Get It While You Can", "Call Of The Wild" and the Top-40 hit/video "Shades Of '45".
It wasn't long before other artists came knocking looking for O'Connor's songwriting talents. The list includes .38 Special ("One Time For Old Times", "Back Where You Belong", "Just A Little Love"), Molly Hatchet ("What's It Gonna Take"), and Eddie Money ("Maybe Tomorrow").
O'Connor also wrote two movie themes: "Pretty Boy" featured in 'Thunder Alley' and performed Leif Garrett, and "Jungle Out There" from 'Zoo Gang'.
In recent years O'Connor has been writing material in Nashville for Lace and Tia McGraff, and for Canadians such as Kim Stockwood, Jamie Warren, Beverly Mahood and Chris Aris.
with notes from Gary O'Connor and Rick Pearson.
as Gary O'
Pay You Back With Interest/Just A Little Love (Capitol) A-5018
I Believe In You/Suzanne (Capitol) A-5056
All The Young Heroes/(same) (Capitol - USA) 5041
Get It While You Can/Young Love (RCA) PB-13870
Call Of The Wild/What Are Friends For (RCA) PB-50824
Call Of The Wild/(same) [12"] (RCA -USA) JR-14113
Shades Of '45/Watching You (Edit) (RCA) PB-13985
Shades Of '45 (Edit)/(same) (RCA - USA) JR-13986
Watching You/Young Love (Arista - UK) 636
Doin' The Best We Can/I Believe In You (Apex) 77080
Light Of Love/Looking Through A Glass Darkly (RCA-Victor) 74-0279
We're All In This Together/Solo Flight (RCA-Victor) 74-0331
Honey In The Sky/Window Of The World (Nimbus/RCA-Victor) 9013
Down To Liverpool/Don't Want To See My Lover Again (Taurus/London) TR-007
Melitta/Love Is Melody (Taurus/London) TR-008
Easy Love/Race The Sun (Anthem/Capitol-EMI) ANS-006
If Only I Were Older/All Right (Anthem/Capitol-EMI) ANS-008
as Gary O'
Gary O' (Capitol) ST-12157
Strange Behaviour (RCA) AFL1-5304
1970 Cat (RCA-Victor) LSP-4267
1978 In The Middle Of The Night (Anthem/Capitol-EMI) ANR-1-1011
1984 Shades Of '45
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