August 11, 2005

SJP


Artist: 3's A Crowd




Brent Titcomb (vocals, guitar)
Trevor Veitch (vocals, guitar)
Donna Warner (vocals)
Colleen Peterson (vocals, guitar; replaced Warner)
David Wiffen (vocals, guitar)
Ken Koblun (bass; replaced Smith)
Comerie Smith (bass; replaced Koblun three times)
Wayne Davis (bass; replaced Smith)
Sandy Crawley (vocals, guitar)
Bruce Cockburn (vocals, guitar)
Dennis Pendrith (bass; replaced Davis)
Richard Patterson (drums)

3's A Crowd was formed in August 1964 in Vancouver by folk musician and comedian Titcomb and singer/comedian Warner after Warner had moved to Vancouver to check out the local folk scene. Shortly afterwards, local guitarist Veitch, who had joined in on a number of occasions during the pair's many 'kitchen jams', making it a trio.

By January 1965, under the name The Bill Schwartz Quartet, the trio make their debut at Vancouver's Bunkhouse coffeehouse. By May 1965 the trio became 3's A Crowd as suggested by Titcomb's friend King Anderson. In June they appeared on the cover of the TV Times and the group sends a demo tape to Sid Dolgay (ex-The Travellers), now a manager for his own company Universal Performing Artists (UPA).

Dolgay invited the trio to Toronto to perform in Yorkville and soon became their manager. Through the remainder of 1965 the trio toured with occasional help of bassist Brian Ahern (ex-The Bad Seeds).

By January 1966 they had found their way out to the Maritimes and in January and were joined by bassist Koblun (ex-Neil Young & The Squires). Koblun would leave for Los Angeles after receiving a call from Stephen Stills to join his new group with Richie Furay: Buffalo Springfield; The gig lasted a week (during which time Comrie Smith fills in) and Koblun returned in time for a stint at Yorkville's fame Riverboat Coffeehouse in Toronto. The final night's performance was taped for CBC -TV's 'The Juliette Show'.

Following an April 1966 stint in Detroit, Michigan, Koblun leaves the band suffering from drug related problems causing 3's A Crowd to re-hire Comrie Smith. By September the band wins a Juno for 'Best Folk Group Of 1966' and receive a record deal with Epic Records in New York to record eight sides. A trip to New York ensues, and with a session drummer in tow, they proceed to record their debut single "Bound To Fly". By the Fall of 1966 Koblun has regained his capacities as a musician, rejoins the group and soon "Bound To Fly" becomes chart bound.

In January 1967, with the single gaining release in the UK, Koblun leaves to re-join Buffalo Springfield. Smith is asked to replace him for a third time. While playing in Ottawa in March of 1967 the band is re-united with singer/songwriter David Wiffen during his stint with Ottawa folk-act The Children. Both Wiffen and The Children's drummer Richard Patterson climb aboard.

With a new, invigorated line-up, the act tours and appears on television several times with their second Epic single, "Honey Machine", which casts the act as a comedy troupe causing a furor within the band and ends their association with Epic Records. A summer tour took them across the country and an August gig at the Mariposa Folk Festival with the likes of The Kensington Market, Buddy Guy and others.

By fall 1967 Koblun has once again rejoined the band (having been kicked out of Buffalo Springfield and several other acts) and 3's A Crowd appears at Expo '67 in Montreal as representatives of the Ontario Pavillion. As luck would have it, Warner's boyfriend, who is chaperoning Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott of The Mamas & The Papas, gets the duo to stop by during the 3's a Crowd's performance. Elliott decides she would love to produce the act, telephones ABC-Dunhill Records president Jay Lasker, and a demo session is arranged in New York. While in New York the band record three songs at Bell Studios with producer Rick Shorter and manage to squeeze in several gigs including one at the legendary Bitter End.

In October, 1967, 3's A Crowd returned to Montreal to appear at the Canadian Pavilion Feature Stage at Expo '67. However, Warner's health takes a turn for the worse and singer Colleen Peterson, a close friend of the group, substitutes on this and later occasions.

Dunhill signed the act and by mid-October the band is whisked off to Los Angeles with their road manager, David McLeod, as sessions begin in Studio 3 at Western Recorders with engineer Chuck Britz and Dunhill staff producer Steve Barri rather than Cass Elliott. Recording continues for nearly four weeks and shortly thereafter, the group returned to Toronto to appear on their own national CBC-TV special called 'Our Kind Of Crowd'; Special guests included the, then, unknown Joni Mitchell and Richard Pryor.

With another residency at Toronto's Riverboat Coffeehouse, Koblun leaves the band for the last time and is replaced by local bassist Wayne Davis. The preview single for their Dunhill debut LP - a two sided cover tune folk-fest with Murray McLauchlan's "Coat Of Colours" backed by Bruce Cockburn's "Bird Without Wings" - entered the RPM charts shortly before year's end.

In February 1968 3's A Crowd's debut album, 'Christopher's Movie Matinee' is finally released in Canada on RCA/Victor Records. With "Coat Of Colours" still charting, the group embarked on a tour of Western Canada. As the tour moved on through Vancouver and down the west coast into California, group members Patterson, Titcomb and Warner, along with Jim & Jean narrowly avoid being arrested at the Buffalo Springfield's famous Topanga Canyon drug bust.

Another single, a cover of Dino Valenti's "Get Together" backed by David Wiffen's "Drive You Away", is released. 3's A Crowd then perform at Massey Hall with members of the Toronto Symphony. By late April the band taped another TV show and "Get Together" charts on RPM. Alas, by May, Warner had dropped out permanently due to continual health problems.

With Colleen Peterson unable to join on a permanent basis, Veitch and Titcomb decide to pursue other career interests. With two concerned investors hoping to reap a return on their investment, the band's manager Sid Dolgay then decided to create a new version of 3's A Crowd.

So, in July 1968 Wiffen and Patterson return to Ottawa, where they are joined by the now available Peterson and ex-Children guitarist Sandy Crawley. The new line-up is completed with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Bruce Cockburn (ex-Olivus) and bassist Dennis Pendrith. 3's A Crowd return to the road as opening act for The Turtles and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, as well as a one-off engagement supporting The Grand Funk Railroad. During this period, investor Harvey Glatt produced a music video of the group performing Cockburn's "Electrocution Of The Word", which is shown at the Youth Pavilion of Ottawa's Central Canadian Exhibition. The band would also appear on investor Sid Banks' CBC variety show called 'One More Time', as a way of recouping his investment.

In early 1969, and the TV series behind them, Glatt booked the group on a spring tour of US universities and colleges. Unfortunately, Crawley had already been offered some acting work and dropped out. The remainder of the band took the gig and toured for two months through the Southern US. 3's A Crowd's final performance would be in April 1969 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Colleen Peterson would remain there on an extended holiday, while the others returned to Canada to pursue separate projects. She would later move to Nashville and finally back to Canada for a mildly successful solo career before passing away from complications due to cancer in October 1996; Veitch was part of Tom Rush's band but is best known for writing the English translation of Laura Branigan's international hit "Gloria". He would also do soundtrack work including music for children's TV shows 'Clifford the Dog' and 'The Care Bears'; Cockburn would sign a solo deal with True North Records and recorded the first of over 30 solo albums; Pendrith joined Toronto funk band Simon Caine for one album and then became an integral member of both Cockburn and Murray McLauchlan's backing bands; Patterson rejoins several ex-Esquires in Ottawa as Canada Goose before freelancing for many Canadian name acts plus managing the reformed Five Man Electrical Band. He died after a long illness on April 3, 2011; Wiffen moved briefly to Oakland, California to record his second solo album, 'David Wiffen' and would eventually continue as a successful solo artist;

In August 1997 3's A Crowd members Cockburn, Crawley, Patterson and Wiffen re-united at the Ottawa Folk Festival for a special reunion concert that included all the members of their previous band The Children.

Adapted from notes by Nicholas Warburton and John Eirnason, with permission from Richard Patterson.


Singles
1966 Bound To Fly/Steel Rail Blues (Epic/Columbia) 5-10073
1967 Honey Machine/When The Sun Goes Down (Epic/Columbia) 5-10151
1968 Bird Without Wings/Coat of Colours (RCA-Victor) 4120
1968 Let's Get Together (RCA-Victor) 4131

Albums
1968 Christopher's Movie Matinee (RCA-Victor) DS-50030

Video
1969 Electrocution Of The Word

Compilation Tracks







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