(drums; replaced Steffler)
Toronto's Platinum Blonde chose their name as a sneer at the Hollywood glitter and pretentious images immortalized in the 1931 Columbia Pictures movie of the same name featuring Jean Harlow.
The band was conceived by Mansfield, England émigré Mark Holmes who dabbled in commercial art in college, worked as an apprentice hairstylist, but was playing guitar in Version One of Platinum Blonde as a Police tribute act in 1980.
By 1982, Holmes had decided to get serious, after their debut independent single "No Regrets" did little to stir the fire. Instead, he had agent Bruce Barrow line up several university engagements, including a showcase at a downtown Toronto nightclub, owned by Tony Tsavdaris. Both Barrow and Tsavdaris (who later became management company TBA) would begin the process of getting Holmes to where he wanted to go with his career.
Holmes fired his band, dumped the cover tunes and placed advertisements for new musicians. Drummer Chris Steffler (ex-The Next, Deserters) was the first to answer, followed by mutual friend and architecture student Sergio Gali, who was also a guitarist. Within a week they stepped on stage as the new Platinum Blonde.
After recording a seven song demo in a friend's living room, the band's management sent the tape off to English producer David Tickle (Split Enz, Peter Gabriel, Red Rider). He called back saying he'd love to do the record but his schedule would mean starting immediately. On the following Monday, David Tickle flew to Toronto to begin recording.
The project immediately gained the commitment of CBS Records. The resulting mini-LP, 'Platinum Blonde', was finished in 16 days and was instantly added to radio across Canada in 1983. An additional four songs were added to the first six songs and became Platinum Blonde's debut album, 'Standing In The Dark', in 1984.
Platinum Blonde's rapid rise to stardom throughout Canada was fuelled by cross-country tours with Bryan Adams and Billy Idol and a pair of state-of-the-art videos by award-winning director, Robert Quartly.
The group skyrocketed from small clubs to headlining large arenas, climaxing with a summer celebration outdoors at Toronto's City Hall for 25,000 hysterical fans. The band became cover-story material and led a fashion revolution.
In February of 1985 it was time to record a follow up and so the band enlisted the help of British producer Eddy Offord (Yes, ELP, 10CC). 'Alien Shores' represented a change in musical direction for both parties involved. They also expanded the line-up from a three-piece to a four-piece with the addition of transplanted Scottish musician Kenny MacLean (The Deserters).
MacLean was an old friend of Steffler's; the two had played in high school together in The Suspects. That band eventually evolved into The Deserters. Originally a guitar player, MacLean was hired to play keyboards with Platinum Blonde for a special New Year's Eve show but was recruited to play bass, back-up vocals and keys as a permanent member starting with 'Alien Shore'. This freed up Holmes to focus on lead vocals.
'Alien Shore', featuring guest appearances by Dalbello and Alex Lifeson (Rush), witnessed the release of several singles including the #1 hit "Crying Over You" which in turn sent the album to #1 for a week of its 11-week run on the Canadian charts. The album went on to sell 400,000 copies.
After the mania of touring to thousands of screaming teenage girls, the band wished to get away from their teeny-bopper roots. The departure of founding member Steffler precipitated a change. The next album would find Tony Thompson (Power Station) filling in as drummer on the decidedly funkier outing 'Contact'.
Drummer Sasha was brought in to fill in full-time for the subsequent tour as the album began its ascent up the charts from singles like the title track and a remake of The Ohio Players' "Fire", complete with several Players on back-up vocals.
It soon became apparent, however, that Platinum Blonde was in contractual and financial trouble from its label and management. The band begged out of renewing their record contract, changed their name to continue distancing themselves from their former image, and signed to Jeff Burns' Justin Records as The Blondes.
The new album, 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah' and 'Best Of Live' did nothing and the band soon folded.
Mark Holmes would eventually sue Sony (formerly CBS) and won the right to own his compositions. He formed the band Breed in 1992 which failed to attract a record deal and went on to a new band, Vertigo and later No. 9, in 1996 with former Blondes drummer Sascha. The band eventually evolved into Platinum Blonde Mach III before Holmes' interest turned to co-managing the Mod Club in Toronto; Kenny MacLean continued on Justin Records' with his own solo album, 'Don't Look Back', in the early '90's. His second album, 'Clear', in 1995 was produced by Terry Brown and featured an all-star cast of musicians; Sergio Gali returned to his studies as architect and has become a success as an interior decorator.
In 1999 SONY Music released a 'best of' package on CD accompanied by an extensive promotional tour by Holmes.
The band reunited in 2003 for a charity event and then again in 2008 at a tribute following the death of member Kenny MacLean. They have since resumed performing in 2010.
as PLATINUM BLONDE
No Regrets/Hey Hey You (independent) WRC3-1215
Doesn't Really Matter (Edit)/Doesn't Really Matter (Long Version) (Columbia/CBS)C4-4351
Standing In The Dark/All Fall Down (Columbia/CBS) E4-7000
Sad Sad Rain/Cast A Shadow (Columbia/CBS) E4-7026
Take It From Me/Standing In The Dark (Live) (Columbia/CBS) E4-7029
Take It From Me (Extended Remix)/Standing In The Dark (Live) [12"] (Columbia/CBS) 12CXP-7029
Not In Love/Video Disease (Columbia/CBS) C4-7044
Crying Over You/It Ain't Love Anyway (Columbia/CBS) C4-7085
Hungry Eyes/Hungry Eyes [Alternative Mix] (Columbia/CBS) C4-7149
Situation Critical/Out Of Time (Columbia/CBS) C4-7120
Somebody Somewhere/Crying Over You [Radical Mix] (Columbia/CBS) C4-7127
Father Christmas/Pere Noel (Columbia/CBS) C4-7195
Contact/Tough Enough (Epic/CBS) E4-3017
Connect Me/Automatic Drive (Epic/CBS) E4-3025
Fire/System (Epic/CBS) 07717
If You Go This Time/Chaperone Sally (Epic/CBS) E4-3048
as THE BLONDES
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah/Hold On Me (Justin/MCA) JEC-35002
as PLATINUM BLONDE
Platinum Blonde [EP] (Columbia/CBS) CEP-80074
Standing In The Dark (Columbia/CBS) PCC-80090
Alien Shores (Columbia/CBS) PCC-80105
Crying Over You [4 song EP] (Columbia/CBS) 12EXP-7115
Contact (Epic/CBS) FE-40949
4 Play [cassette only] (Epic/CBS) 4TST-22016
Contact [4 song EP] (Epic/CBS) 12EXP-3023
Fire (Smokin' Mix)//Fire (5 Alarm Mix)/Fire (Epic/CBS) 12EXP-3031
Seven Year Itch: 1982-1989 (Columbia/Sony)
Collections (SONY/BMG - Europe)
as THE BLONDES
Best Of Live (BEI/A&M/Polygram) 70055-5004
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (Justin/MCA) JED-0002
Doesn't Really Matter
Standing In The Dark
Not In Love
Crying Over You
COMING IN OCTOBER 2011: The book version of the Encyclopedia.
Submit corrections, additions and feedback
Click on the image and pre-order now!