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Red Robinson's Legends

Updated 12 days ago

Music
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I've interviewed everybody from Buddy Holly to Michael Bublé over a 60 year radio/TV career. Thanks for visiting Red Robinson's Legends, and keep coming back for more!

Read more

I've interviewed everybody from Buddy Holly to Michael Bublé over a 60 year radio/TV career. Thanks for visiting Red Robinson's Legends, and keep coming back for more!

Cover image of Red Robinson's Legends

Red Robinson's Legends

Latest release on Sep 24, 2020

Read more

I've interviewed everybody from Buddy Holly to Michael Bublé over a 60 year radio/TV career. Thanks for visiting Red Robinson's Legends, and keep coming back for more!

Rank #1: Roy Orbison Part 1: From Sun To Monument

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Roy recalls his early days at Sun Records; Elvis' Texas performances and the unique sound of Scotty Moore's guitar; Johnny Cash puts Roy in touch with Sam Phillips; the secret of the Sun Sound; Roy works briefly with Chet Atkins at RCA before signing with Monument Records in 1959; the success of "Uptown" and "Only The Lonely"; Roy tells the story behind recording "Running Scared". Recorded in Vancouver, July 1978

Roy Orbison was one of the original Sun Recording stars, but his long stay with Monument Records brought his greatest success. By the time we booked Roy into Vancouver his list of top sellers was most impressive: memorable songs like "Uptown", "Only The Lonely", "Blue Angel", "I'm Hurtin'", the classic "Running Scared", "Crying" and "Candy Man". Roy Orbison charted 29 hits, establishing him as one of the biggest chartbusters of the early Sixties.

Friend and business partner Les Vogt and I became good friends with Roy over the years and he appeared in Vancouver many times. When we were not the promoters we always found time to get together during his visits. Les became his de facto manager during a period when Roy was without a record contract. Roy was not alone at that particular time as the record business was going through some major changes. The artists who started rock and roll suddenly found themselves out of favor.

Les suggested Roy move from Nashville to Los Angeles. He did and his shows in and around the L. A. area were sold out. After the first show backstage, Roy was surprised to find people like Linda Ronstadt and others in the industry praising his talent. This gave him a new lease on life and he began his creative process all over again. From this “second wind” came his collaborative effort with the Traveling Wilburys and his new hits like I Drove All Night and You Got It.

When Les and I were planning the acts for EXPO 86 we thought our old friend Roy Orbison would be a great headliner. Roy was on the comeback trail with the Traveling Wilburys and his Mystery Girl CD was enjoying success. He agreed without hesitation, saying “I will cancel some appearances and work with you, as you and Les were the only people to give me a bonus in my entire career.”

Roy Orbison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by Bruce Springsteen. He died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988, at the peak of his renewed popularity. Roy gets my vote as the nicest performer I ever met. He was a wonderful, honourable guy. We miss him and his music.

May 21 2020

11mins

Play

Rank #2: The Last Broadcast: Episode 10

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The book you can listen to, Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, is available now from friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017.

"Robinson happily includes The Beatles in his playlist for the final broadcast, and instead of recounting yet again the pandemonium at Empire Stadium 53 years and two days ago, he asks O’Day if he emceed the band in Seattle for KJR.

'Yes I did, but I my story goes back before that,' O’Day replies. 'Little known, Murray the K in New York claims he was the first to play The Beatles in the U.S. Not true! The first Beatles record played on the radio in the U.S. was by KJR, and it was 'Please Please Me.'"

In this episode, Pat recalls his part in the instant success of the record, and he shares a story about how Paul McCartney's wedding to actress Jane Asher after the Beatles' 1966 Seattle concert turned out to be an elaborate prank.

May 30 2020

8mins

Play

Rank #3: "That'll Be The Day" - Buddy Holly In Vancouver, 1957

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The Show of Stars for 1957 featured the changing appearance of Rock and Roll. The line-up for this event included Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Frankie Avalon, George Hamilton IV, Buddy Knox, The Everly Brothers, Paul Anka and Eddie Cochran. Anyone even remotely interested in Rock and Roll today can appreciate the significance of this show. Even by today's standards it was big. The line-up was not only impressive in its day, it was historic.

I was most anxious to meet Buddy Holly. There was special meaning here. The Show of Stars was held in September and Buddy and the Crickets had their first hit in August. The song was "That'll Be The Day".

In those early days of Rock and Roll, I loved the music and I would listen to every single new release. Both sides. I liked "That'll Be The Day" and played it for months on CKWX before it ever made a mark on the national charts. In those days Cash Box magazine had a page filled with top ten records from various deejays. I was one of the few Canadians on that page. I had listed "That'll Be The Day" on my top ten hit list for six weeks running.

In this interview, Buddy and I talk about how my listing of the song brought it to the attention of other radio stations across North America. His record company made a special presentation to me thanking me for playing "That'll Be The Day" and listing it week after week in Cash Box.

From the moment Buddy Holly and I met there was a bond. He was a country boy with much enthusiasm. He was happy to have had a hit and was intent on adding to his success. In our interview I ask him what he has coming out and he says they had just recorded a song called "Oh, Boy". It was soon to be another Holly hit with the Crickets. In late 1957 it rose to the Top 10.

Buddy Holly was a diamond in the rough. In this photo you can see that his teeth are in bad shape and his glasses are not as stylish as they might be. It didn't matter to the audience that night in Vancouver. The music of the Crickets filled the hall and Buddy Holly was recognized by the crowd as something original.

Buddy Holly grew up in Lubbock, Texas and was featured with Bill Haley and the Comets on a show in his hometown. A Decca record scout saw Buddy perform and signed him. This arrangement didn't work out. It wasn't until later when Holly recorded "That'll Be The Day" for Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, that it all came together.

In many ways I can see now what writers mean when they say a man becomes a legend after he has passed on to his final reward. The stories of Buddy Holly's life are blown all out of proportion to the real man. As a young deejay, I was impressed only with the sincerity, the energy, the youth and the happiness of a young man doing something he obviously loved to do more than anything on this earth — to sing his song.

Buddy Holly was a giant for what he offered the world in the form of his music, but he was just like you and me in person. My memory of Buddy is one of a warm, average guy you would like to call your friend. He was extraordinary by being ordinary in an entertainment world filled with giant egos. I could see all of Buddy Holly that night in Vancouver so long ago because he was unguarded, he was a real flesh and blood human being. He wasn't a star someone had manufactured for mass consumption. Buddy Holly was an honest to God talent.

May 29 2020

3mins

Play

Rank #4: The Last Broadcast: Episode 9

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Don't touch that dial! The radio show in a book, Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, is at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017.

"Defining a certain era as 'the good old days' is entirely subjective, but while show producer Art Factora expects decades from now to tell his son how magical the early years of the 21st century were, he appreciates that Robinson and his contemporaries back in their time thrived on achievement rather than entitlement, and that everyone’s skins were a lot thicker, and that adversity was viewed as a necessary part of the game.

'I envy a lot of things about their era,' he says. 'You could talk freely and express a whole range of ideas. You were responsible for your own success or failure – there was no nanny state to make excuses on your behalf. Things didn’t seem so watered down back then.'”

In this episode, Pat and Bruce recall the recording of Strangers In The Night, the guys swap stories about Jimmy Bowen, Bruce tells the story behind Elvis' biggest hit Suspicious Minds, and Red and Bruce pay tribute to the late Charlie Rich.

May 22 2020

6mins

Play

Rank #5: Roy Orbison Part 2: From Lana To Linda

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Roy shares the story of "Lana" and its success a couple of years after leaving Monument; working with songwriter Joe Melson and writing solo; how great music makes a simple emotional connection; Roy moves to LA from Nashville and Linda Ronstadt records "Blue Bayou". Recorded in Vancouver, July 1978

Roy Orbison was one of the original Sun Recording stars, but his long stay with Monument Records brought his greatest success. By the time we booked Roy into Vancouver his list of top sellers was most impressive: memorable songs like "Uptown", "Only The Lonely", "Blue Angel", "I'm Hurtin'", the classic "Running Scared", "Crying" and "Candy Man". Roy Orbison charted 29 hits, establishing him as one of the biggest chartbusters of the early Sixties.

Friend and business partner Les Vogt and I became good friends with Roy over the years and he appeared in Vancouver many times. When we were not the promoters we always found time to get together during his visits. Les became his de facto manager during a period when Roy was without a record contract. Roy was not alone at that particular time as the record business was going through some major changes. The artists who started rock and roll suddenly found themselves out of favor.

Les suggested Roy move from Nashville to Los Angeles. He did and his shows in and around the L. A. area were sold out. After the first show backstage, Roy was surprised to find people like Linda Ronstadt and others in the industry praising his talent. This gave him a new lease on life and he began his creative process all over again. From this “second wind” came his collaborative effort with the Traveling Wilburys and his new hits like I Drove All Night and You Got It.

When Les and I were planning the acts for EXPO 86 we thought our old friend Roy Orbison would be a great headliner. Roy was on the comeback trail with the Traveling Wilburys and his Mystery Girl CD was enjoying success. He agreed without hesitation, saying “I will cancel some appearances and work with you, as you and Les were the only people to give me a bonus in my entire career.”

Roy Orbison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by Bruce Springsteen. He died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988, at the peak of his renewed popularity. Roy gets my vote as the nicest performer I ever met. He was a wonderful, honourable guy. We miss him and his music.

May 21 2020

9mins

Play

Rank #6: Mark Lindsay

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Paul Revere and The Raiders sign with Columbia; the band visits Vancouver in 1962; Mark remembers booking agent Pat Mason and Seattle radio legend Pat O'Day; his career after the Raiders; performing live; his appearance on "Married With Children"; what he's been up to lately, including a book. Recorded at CISL/Vancouver in 1997.

May 20 2020

5mins

Play

Rank #7: Paul Revere, Rock'n'Roll Rebel

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It was 1775 and Paul Revere rode his horse yelling “The British are coming!” In the 1960’s another Paul Revere noticed that the British Invasion was starting all over again. He rode the charts and was successful while many bands collapsed during the invasion.

The band was discovered by jock Roger Hart of Portland’s KISN. In 1962 they had just experienced breakout success thanks to their regional hit "Louie Louie" (written by Rchard Berry in 1955, and covered by The Kingsmen in 1963). We flew them in to Vancouver to entertain at the annual C-FUN Night at Kits Showboat, an outdoor theatre that has showcased local and international talent for over eighty years. That night the streets were so choked with traffic we had to bring the band onto the beach by barge. Paul never forgot that incident.

Paul Revere and the Raiders were the first rock group signed to Columbia Records. Their first national hit was "Steppin' Out" in September 1965. Lead singer Mark Lindsay and the Raiders brought about some of America's hardest Rock to be heard in a decade.The visual effect of the group was enhanced by their American revolutionary war uniforms. TV exposure was helpful in pushing their image across to the young. Dick Clark's TV show "Where The Action Is!" gave them the added advantage. For the next six years they forged ahead with some very strong material: "Kicks", "Hungry", "Good Thing", Him or Me – What's It Gonna Be?" and their biggest hit, their cover of John D. Loudermilk's "Indian Reservation", in 1971.

In August 1986, Paul Revere and the Raiders appeared at the Legends of Rock'n'Roll show at EXPO 86 in Vancouver with fellow Northwest music favourites the Ventures and Merrilee Rush. That's where we sat down to record this interview.

I also saw Paul in 2010, when I took a busload of listeners to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Missouri. Ever gracious, Paul invited the whole group backstage for autographs and photos. Paul’s last appearance in Vancouver was in March 2013 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, where he signed the celebrity wall downstairs. He had previously appeared with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers during the theatre’s grand opening in 2008. Ace photographer Steve Pesant captured Paul performing in this outstanding image. Thanks, Steve!

My last encounter with Paul came during a 2013 trip on the Where the Action Is! Rock & Roll Cruise, a Caribbean travel excursion organized by Concerts at Sea. He performed well but struggled noticeably here and there; his manager later disclosed to me the sad news that he had brain cancer. Paul was an unforgettable character, always having fun onstage and off. He died October 15, 2014.

One glaring omission in this story: Paul Revere and the Raiders have yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite scoring seven chart hits between 1965 and 1967. Paul Revere and the Raiders sold nearly 50 million records over the course of their career. They had 15 consecutive hit singles, 6 of which were top 10, four RIAA certified gold albums, one gold single ("Let Me") and one platinum single ("Indian Reservation").

The Raiders appeared on over 500 episodes of ABC's Where the Action Is. They hosted It’s Happening, Happening ’68 and Happening 69, also on ABC. They appeared on many other TV shows including Ed Sullivan, The Smothers Brothers, Hollywood Palace, and as themselves in a Batman episode "Hizzonner the Penguin", making Paul Revere and The Raiders the most televised musical group in the world.

Three Raiders songs were included in Quentin Tarantino's blockbuster 2019 movie "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

According to the RRHF, "Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll." Let's hope they recognize the tremendous contribution Paul Revere and the Raiders made, and soon!

May 20 2020

21mins

Play

Rank #8: Bill Haley Part 1

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In this episode, Bill tells Red how he got started: the origins of the term "rock'n'roll"; his early success, how he managed his money, and how he kept his enthusiasm. Recorded at CFUN/Vancouver 5-31-66

It’s hard to put a finger on the first Rock and Roll record but there is no doubt Bill Haley made it happen all over the world. Here was a Country and Western singer playing "Western Swing" much like the music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. The novel part of Bill Haley's music - its rhythm - was the dominant factor that made Rock and Roll. At Bill's first session with Decca, he recorded "Rock Around the Clock" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which were to transform the concept of what popular music could be.

"Rock Around the Clock" was featured in a youth-oriented movie called "Blackboard Jungle" and all hell broke loose. This movie and the song "Rock Around the Clock" became the focal points of the young and gave greater thrust to the popularity of this new hybrid of music, "Rock and Roll".

In July of 1955 I had just graduated from High School and I was a young, high-voiced, rapid-patter deejay on CJOR/Vancouver. It all came together when a Decca recording landed on my desk. It was Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" and it changed music - and radio - forever.

Bill Haley arrived in Vancouver to play the first real Rock and Roll concert at the Kerrisdale Arena in June of 1956. When he arrived in Vancouver for his concert it was sheer bedlam. The show had been sold out for weeks before his arrival. I stepped out on to that stage and felt the electricity in the air immediately. I thanked Jack Cullen for asking me to MC the show and introduced Bill Haley. The screams started just after I said "And now the man you've been waiting for..."

I thought the roof was going to be ripped off by the sheer weight of the noise. While Bill Haley played through his set I waited backstage for my first interview with the man who brought it all together. He was an utter surprise to me. He was kind and friendly, he was aware of my nervousness in his presence, but made me feel comfortable instantly. We talked for about an hour, had a few photographs taken together (by renowned Vancouver photographer John McGinnis) and he vanished into the night like so many of the stars I was to meet over the years. I knew then that here was a man of significance in the history of North American music.

One of the most fascinating stories from that meeting was his almost prophetic offering to me. Bill said in the midst of the conversation, "Red, we have just about reached the end of our time in the spotlight." I could not understand this thinking; he was at the height of his career and the hits just kept on coming.

Yet, he insisted that he and the Comets were about to be overtaken by a young man from Memphis. Haley said, "Red, the next giant of Rock and Roll is going to be Elvis Presley. He's got the looks, the talent and the magic to make him very, very important in the months and years ahead."

Bill Haley was right. You know that, I know that, but in that dressing room at the Kerrisdale Arena during that hot Spring night in 1956 standing there with the world's number one Rock and Roll artist, it was hard to conceive of anyone bigger than Bill Haley and the Comets.

May 18 2020

12mins

Play

Rank #9: Bill Haley Part 2

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In this episode, Bill records two albums in Mexico; the high price of success; touring the Pacific and Europe and its effect on him and the Comets. Recorded at CFUN/Vancouver 5-31-66

It’s hard to put a finger on the first Rock and Roll record but there is no doubt Bill Haley made it happen all over the world. Here was a Country and Western singer playing "Western Swing" much like the music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. The novel part of Bill Haley's music - its rhythm - was the dominant factor that made Rock and Roll. At Bill's first session with Decca, he recorded "Rock Around the Clock" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which were to transform the concept of what popular music could be.

"Rock Around the Clock" was featured in a youth-oriented movie called "Blackboard Jungle" and all hell broke loose. This movie and the song "Rock Around the Clock" became the focal points of the young and gave greater thrust to the popularity of this new hybrid of music, "Rock and Roll".

In July of 1955 I had just graduated from High School and I was a young, high-voiced, rapid-patter deejay on CJOR/Vancouver. It all came together when a Decca recording landed on my desk. It was Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" and it changed music - and radio - forever.

Bill Haley arrived in Vancouver to play the first real Rock and Roll concert at the Kerrisdale Arena in June of 1956. When he arrived in Vancouver for his concert it was sheer bedlam. The show had been sold out for weeks before his arrival. I stepped out on to that stage and felt the electricity in the air immediately. I thanked Jack Cullen for asking me to MC the show and introduced Bill Haley. The screams started just after I said "And now the man you've been waiting for..."

I thought the roof was going to be ripped off by the sheer weight of the noise. While Bill Haley played through his set I waited backstage for my first interview with the man who brought it all together. He was an utter surprise to me. He was kind and friendly, he was aware of my nervousness in his presence, but made me feel comfortable instantly. We talked for about an hour, had a few photographs taken together (by renowned Vancouver photographer John McGinnis) and he vanished into the night like so many of the stars I was to meet over the years. I knew then that here was a man of significance in the history of North American music.

One of the most fascinating stories from that meeting was his almost prophetic offering to me. Bill said in the midst of the conversation, "Red, we have just about reached the end of our time in the spotlight." I could not understand this thinking; he was at the height of his career and the hits just kept on coming.

Yet, he insisted that he and the Comets were about to be overtaken by a young man from Memphis. Haley said, "Red, the next giant of Rock and Roll is going to be Elvis Presley. He's got the looks, the talent and the magic to make him very, very important in the months and years ahead."

Bill Haley was right. You know that, I know that, but in that dressing room at the Kerrisdale Arena during that hot Spring night in 1956 standing there with the world's number one Rock and Roll artist, it was hard to conceive of anyone bigger than Bill Haley and the Comets.

May 18 2020

11mins

Play

Rank #10: Bill Haley Part 3

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In this episode, Red and Bill talk about all the hits, starting with Rock Around The Clock and finishing up with the story of Crazy Man, Crazy; Bill moves into the Sixties to talk about his foray into Spanish music. Recorded at CFUN/Vancouver 5-31-66

It’s hard to put a finger on the first Rock and Roll record but there is no doubt Bill Haley made it happen all over the world. Here was a Country and Western singer playing "Western Swing" much like the music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. The novel part of Bill Haley's music - its rhythm - was the dominant factor that made Rock and Roll. At Bill's first session with Decca, he recorded "Rock Around the Clock" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which were to transform the concept of what popular music could be.

"Rock Around the Clock" was featured in a youth-oriented movie called "Blackboard Jungle" and all hell broke loose. This movie and the song "Rock Around the Clock" became the focal points of the young and gave greater thrust to the popularity of this new hybrid of music, "Rock and Roll".

In July of 1955 I had just graduated from High School and I was a young, high-voiced, rapid-patter deejay on CJOR/Vancouver. It all came together when a Decca recording landed on my desk. It was Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" and it changed music - and radio - forever.

Bill Haley arrived in Vancouver to play the first real Rock and Roll concert at the Kerrisdale Arena in June of 1956. When he arrived in Vancouver for his concert it was sheer bedlam. The show had been sold out for weeks before his arrival. I stepped out on to that stage and felt the electricity in the air immediately. I thanked Jack Cullen for asking me to MC the show and introduced Bill Haley. The screams started just after I said "And now the man you've been waiting for..."

I thought the roof was going to be ripped off by the sheer weight of the noise. While Bill Haley played through his set I waited backstage for my first interview with the man who brought it all together. He was an utter surprise to me. He was kind and friendly, he was aware of my nervousness in his presence, but made me feel comfortable instantly. We talked for about an hour, had a few photographs taken together (by renowned Vancouver photographer John McGinnis) and he vanished into the night like so many of the stars I was to meet over the years. I knew then that here was a man of significance in the history of North American music.

One of the most fascinating stories from that meeting was his almost prophetic offering to me. Bill said in the midst of the conversation, "Red, we have just about reached the end of our time in the spotlight." I could not understand this thinking; he was at the height of his career and the hits just kept on coming.

Yet, he insisted that he and the Comets were about to be overtaken by a young man from Memphis. Haley said, "Red, the next giant of Rock and Roll is going to be Elvis Presley. He's got the looks, the talent and the magic to make him very, very important in the months and years ahead."

Bill Haley was right. You know that, I know that, but in that dressing room at the Kerrisdale Arena during that hot Spring night in 1956 standing there with the world's number one Rock and Roll artist, it was hard to conceive of anyone bigger than Bill Haley and the Comets.

May 18 2020

13mins

Play

Rank #11: Gene Pitney Part 2

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Gene recalls working with the Rolling Stones and George Jones; balancing career and family; a couple of great Phil Spector stories. Recorded in 1987 in Vancouver.

May 05 2020

11mins

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Rank #12: Gene Pitney Part 1

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Gene talks about the enduring appeal of early rock'n'roll; the real story behind his first record; some of the biggest hits of his songwriting career; the background story of Town Without Pity. Recorded in 1987 in Vancouver.

May 05 2020

10mins

Play

Rank #13: The Fifth Dimension Part 1

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Ron Townson and Florence LaRue talk about the role Johnny Rivers and Jimmy Webb played in their careers and the increased popularity of softer music. Recorded at the Legends of Rock'n'Roll at EXPO 86 in Vancouver.

May 05 2020

6mins

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Rank #14: A Beatles Remembrance, 1989

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August 22, 1964... 53 years ago on this date, the Beatles appeared at Vancouver's Empire Stadium for their first Canadian concert. I was the MC and it was my job to settle the 20,000 screaming fans down so I could introduce the Beatles. In this 1989 demo for Western International Communications/CKNW you'll hear concert audio, musical snippets and my memories... including the moment John Lennon told me to "Get the **** off our stage!" Enjoy this piece of musical history!

Aug 22 2017

9mins

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Rank #15: Elvis 20th Anniversary Tribute, 1997

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A celebration of the life of Elvis Presley is going on in Memphis this week. I was the emcee for Elvis Week in Memphis for five years, and had the pleasure of being emcee for his Vancouver appearance in August 1957. This is the 40th anniversary of his death. Over the years I became friends with some of his friends including Joe Esposito, who sadly died earlier this year. Here is a small excerpt from my salute to Elvis 20 years ago. What special cherished memories. (Copyright 1997 Drew Marketing)

Aug 15 2017

4mins

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Rank #16: Glen Campbell interview, September 1988 (Part 2)

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Hearing that one of my favourite performers had died shook me. I knew Glen Campbell had dementia and it would eventually take his life, but the reality of his passing hit me hard. Here is one of the most talented performers ever. He was a much in-demand session player, admired by his peers and a genuinely nice person. I did many interviews with Glen over the years and the last time was at Vancouver's PNE where he appeared with his daughter. You could see that he was struggling but he presented his show like the professional he was. I miss him greatly.

Aug 14 2017

3mins

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Rank #17: Glen Campbell interview, September 1988 (Part 1)

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Hearing that one of my favourite performers had died shook me. I knew Glen Campbell had dementia and it would eventually take his life, but the reality of his passing hit me hard. Here is one of the most talented performers ever. He was a much in-demand session player, admired by his peers and a genuinely nice person. I did many interviews with Glen over the years and the last time was at Vancouver's PNE where he appeared with his daughter. You could see that he was struggling but he presented his show like the professional he was. I miss him greatly.

Aug 14 2017

3mins

Play

Rank #18: Sir Roger Moore, 1998

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Sir Roger Moore replaced Sean Connery when he tired of the James Bond series. Roger had been very successful on British television with a couple of highly rated series including "Ivanhoe" and "The Saint". He played the British secret agent in seven feature films between 1973 and 1985.

Roger became an ambassador for the United Nations which brought him to Vancouver in the late 90's. I took my trusty tape recorder and a camera person with me and interviewed this charming English gentleman. And that's what he was.

May 23 2017

4mins

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Rank #19: The Everly Brothers, 1966 Part 3

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Don Everly turns 80 tomorrow (2/1/17). I have known Don and his late brother Phil since 1957 when we first met at The Biggest Show of Stars in Vancouver.

Their harmony was second to none and the Beatles admired them. As a matter of fact it took Paul McCartney to bring them together for a reunion at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul wrote their last major charted hit On The Wings Of A Nightingale.

True icons in the music world and now the last man standing is Don Everly.

We talked many times over the years. As we salute Don on his 80th, here's an interview from November 1966, taped at C-FUN/Vancouver when the Everlys appeared at Isy's Supper Club.

Jan 31 2017

10mins

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Rank #20: The Everly Brothers, 1966 Part 2

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Don Everly turns 80 tomorrow (2/1/17). I have known Don and his late brother Phil since 1957 when we first met at The Biggest Show of Stars in Vancouver.

Their harmony was second to none and the Beatles admired them. As a matter of fact it took Paul McCartney to bring them together for a reunion at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul wrote their last major charted hit On The Wings Of A Nightingale.

True icons in the music world and now the last man standing is Don Everly.

We talked many times over the years. As we salute Don on his 80th, here's an interview from November 1966, taped at C-FUN/Vancouver when the Everlys appeared at Isy's Supper Club.

Jan 31 2017

7mins

Play

Legends Of Radio - Pat O'Day

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When Pat O'Day died August 4, I lost a great friend and the Pacific Northwest said goodbye to a genuine legend.

Son Jeff O'Day wrote a fitting tribute to his father in a Facebook post:

“The Pacific Northwest will always seem a little empty without the legendary Pat O’Day. All we can do is focus on the incredible role he had in making the Emerald City a better place to live, and the difference he made in people’s lives.“

The son of a coal miner turned preacher, Pat was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, on September 24, 1934. When he was 7, his father accepted a job with a Tacoma church and soon landed a radio ministry show on Tacoma’s KMO.

“He didn’t pound the pulpit, but he could move people emotionally,” O’Day remembered in a 2018 Seattle Times story. “I knew then that I wanted to be on the radio. Every night I’d go into the bathroom and practice announcing into the bathtub because it made my voice resonate.”

While attending radio and TV school in Tacoma, Pat landed his first radio job as a studio engineer at KTAC. After spending three years at small-market stations, he made his Seattle debut on KAYO in 1959.

A year later, O'Day moved to KJR, his favorite station growing up in Tacoma. Pat combined rock'n'roll music with the personality, drama and theatrics of pre-TV radio. He was promoted to program director of KJR and felt that all of his childhood dreams had come true.

Pat O’Day owned the Seattle afternoon airwaves, averaging 35% of the radio audience. KJR moved into #1 in the ratings and stayed there for almost 15 years. Pat says, "Other stations would attempt to compete now and then, but we had the talent, we had the momentum and we had a tradition. We believed radio had to make people laugh, or cry. It needed to be perpetual motion."

Pat was named the nation’s top program director in 1964 and 1965, and “Radioman of the Year” in 1966.

Pat began calling hydroplane races on KJR in 1967. That was the beginning of a 46 year stretch broadcasting the hydros on Seattle radio and TV. As Pat explains, "A hydroplane race is like a rock 'n' roll festival with Rolls-Royce engines instead of guitars. Young people were re-energized about the sport because their favorite radio station was right in the middle of it."

O’Day & Associates staged teen dances all over the Pacific Northwest, showcasing local bands and touring acts like Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1967 Pat's dance business became Concerts West, staging shows for Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, the Beach Boys, the Moody Blues, the Eagles, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and many others.

After undergoing treatment at Schick Shadel Hospital in 1986, he became its radio and TV spokesman. Pat always said it was his second passion, and he loved talking about the thousands of lives Schick Shadel helped to save.

In 1989, Pat moved to San Juan Island, where he operated a real estate brokerage. I'll always treasure visiting him in Friday Harbor, our lunches at Downriggers and the clam chowder in Roche Harbor!

Pat O'Day was among a group of pioneer deejays honoured by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be there with Pat, Dick Biondi, Cousin Brucie and many others that day.

A guest of honour on my final radio show in 2017, Pat was in vintage form. He regaled our audience with tales of Frank Sinatra's visit to KJR, falling victim to an elaborate Paul McCartney wedding prank, his role in the success of "Wooly Bully"... you can hear them all in my series "The Last Broadcast".

In the closing moments of that last show, Pat left me with some advice that still resonates today: "We waste so much time saying 'no', and we accomplish nothing with the word 'no'. But the word 'yes' can open the doors to magic."

Thanks, Pat O'Day, for opening the doors to so much magic - and for inviting us in to watch a true magician at work!

Sep 24 2020

11mins

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Elvis In Vancouver - August 31, 1957

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The highlight of 1957 had a date: August 31. The place: Empire Stadium, Vancouver. The occasion: The live appearance of Elvis Presley.

More than 26,000 tickets were sold for the event. Presley arrived in Vancouver by train as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, did not want Elvis to fly. The train arrived in the morning at the Great Northern Railway station, catching the media off guard as they had anticipated he would be arriving by plane. He was then driven by limousine to the Georgia Hotel. I took the elevator to the 12th floor and started walking down the hall toward Elvis’ room. I knocked on the door, it flew open and Tom Diskin, Elvis Presley's road manager, greeted us. The meeting was brief: a handshake, a question here, an answer there. Elvis was cautious at our initial meeting but when he realized that I was not there to interview him, he was most cordial. We talked about his success, the types of music we both enjoyed and his enjoyment of live performances where he could see immediate reaction to his stage act.

I guess one of the main reasons I have always been a Presley fan is that I discovered a down to earth individual who had not been affected by the incredible success that fell upon him. We said goodbye and I said that I was looking forward to his show and would see him later that day at the stadium.

The next scene opens at the Elvis press conference. I discovered that only the newsmen had brought tape recorders. The other deejays had not. I hadn't been used to doing interviews with a press group and was determined to get my piece in. As the microphones were pushed into Presley's face I fought to ask him questions mostly related to his music. He seemed to understand that I was not out to gather any sensational news. When the press conference ended, Elvis and I were joined by two Vancouver policemen. We stayed there together for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the stadium to fill up with fans. These were intimate moments with the "King".

We talked about growing up poor. We discussed the changing world, his family, my family, his love of rhythm and blues, country and gospel music. Elvis discussed at great length his ambitions with regard to his music. He asked me about my radio show, the kids that listened, how they reacted to his television appearances and his records.

Just before I left the dressing room to go out and bring on the opening acts, Elvis stood up, stretched out his hand and said, "It was nice meeting you. Good luck with your radio career and I hope we get to see each other again down the road."

With my heart pounding with excitement I left Elvis and walked toward the stage at the north end of Empire Stadium. I can't describe the feeling of looking out at a sea of 25,000 faces. I had to gather up every ounce of courage. My introduction was brief: I walked out to thundering applause and said "On behalf of the Teen Canteen, Canada’s largest teen show, I'm proud tonight to present to you, ELVIS PRESLEY!" The crowd went berserk.

Elvis performed for only 25 minutes. He sang many of his hits including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Don't Be Cruel", "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", and "Hound Dog". As the crowd grew more alarming, Presley was ordered by his manager to wrap up the show and depart in his Cadillac, now parked conveniently behind the stage. It was truly an unforgettable evening.

On August 31, 1982, to mark the 25th anniversary of Elvis' visit to Vancouver, CBC's Vicki Gabereau sat down with me and we covered some of the highlights of the concert. I thought I'd lost this interview, and it was a treat to hear it again. Hope you enjoy my recollections of one of the greatest days of my life.

Aug 31 2020

5mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 19

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We dedicate the final episode of The Last Broadcast to the memory of a true radio legend: our friend Pat O'Day, who passed away August 4. Pat was an inspiration to everyone he met, and his passion for entertainment burned brightly right to the end.

Here's another excerpt from the book:

"Bruce Allen glances at the faces peering at them from the adjacent studio and through the small square window of the closed door, and he suddenly realizes the end has come. He says into his mike, 'It's been a thrill for me, Red, to sit here with you guys and talk to you, because these stories... this should be eight hours. They should have given us the whole damn day.'

'Agreed, Bruce.' Pat O’Day leans into his mike, intent on making his final words count.

'I want to say something else about Red, and his phenomenal success from the time he was in high school on through the years. The key to his success - and everybody listen to this - was his ability to use that magical word, "yes". We waste so much time saying "no", and we accomplish nothing with the word "no". But the word "yes" can open the doors to magic. Look what it's done for Red Robinson, as we celebrate his last big radio show.'

Robinson introduces Aretha Franklin, but the song that closes the final broadcast couldn’t be more appropriate: "The Time of my Life," covered by Bill Medley.

But just as they remove their headsets and stand up, producer Art Factora has a small surprise: through the speakers he plays what will be the coda to the show."

Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

Aug 27 2020

9mins

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Remembering Elvis

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"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017. In this excerpt, the guys reflect on Elvis' untimely death on August 16, 1977.

"Pat O’Day chimes in. 'It’s as good a time as any, Red, to spell one thing out. Why did Elvis pass away? It was really simple when you get down to it: he suffered from an inflammation in the lining of his heart. The same thing that had cost his mother her life. He'd had rheumatic fever in his youth, back when rheumatic fever was untreated, and he was left with heart inflammation that eventually brought on the end of his life - not a drug overdose.'”

Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

We'll return August 27, on the third anniversary of the Last Broadcast, with our series finale.

Aug 16 2020

3mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 18

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Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

In this episode, Pat salutes Ray Charles, Bruce plays a favourite by Dean and Jean, the guys pay tribute to Roy Orbison.

The Last Broadcast podcast is taking a summer vacation!

We'll return August 27, on the third anniversary of the Last Broadcast, with our thrilling Series Finale! Keep rockin' and stay safe!

Jul 24 2020

5mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 17

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Here's another excerpt from Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

In this episode, the guys pay tribute to John Fogerty; Pat and Bruce recall a scary incident from their past.

"O’Day suspects Robinson may forget to ask him to recount how Allen almost killed him, an incident that stemmed from Allen in the 1970s allowing Concerts West to book Bachman-Turner Overdrive in the U.S.

So he raises the topic himself on air. “That relationship turned out to be dangerous for me, because we concluded a tour in Dallas, and at the end of a tour back then you always threw a party for the group, right? With Led Zeppelin you got drugs and hookers, but Bachman–Turner Overdrive, those kids were mostly Mormons, so I had to come up with some clean activity to conclude the tour.”

O’Day’s solution was to rent a new, high-speed go kart track in Arlington for the occasion and took over the facility at midnight for an event he called The BTO 500, complete with scoreboard, checkered flags, and time trials. He also persuaded the army veteran who had built and operated the track to remove the speed governors from the karts.

The event unfolded flawlessly until four in the morning and the last lap of the last heat. “I was on the outside and Bruce was on the inside, and we were fighting for the lead,” O’Day recalls. “In the final turn, side by side, engines racing at full power, we collided, and I went through a chain link fence at 60 miles an hour.”

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017.

Jul 18 2020

8mins

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Fats Domino

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Antoine "Fats" Domino first began recording in 1949. His first national hit didn't come until 1955 when he recorded "Ain't That A Shame". It was a bigger hit for Pat Boone, but Pat's cover introduced white audiences to the music of the Fat Man. Fats' string of hits was enormous. Believe it or not, he never achieved a number one hit song on the pop music charts!

In late 1956 and early 1957 two "Show of Stars" presentations came to Vancouver. The first was an all-Black show in the sense that the stars were basically Rhythm and Blues stars and not mixed up with white Rock and Roll, except that now that Rock and Roll music was acceptable to everyone they were packaged together to perform for a mixed audience. On the first "Show of Stars" the line-up included Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhatter, Bill Doggett and The Five Satins

Most of these stars were listed in the "Rhythm and Blues" section of the trade publications. Rock and Roll was going to change that, but in 1955 these were the R&B hits and hit makers. Bill Doggett had "Honky Tonk", a classic instrumental that is one of the most danceable tunes of all time. Fats Domino had a string of hits: "Ain't That A Shame", "Blueberry Hill" and "I'm in Love Again". Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were riding high with "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?", Clyde McPhatter had "Treasure of Love", and so on. These were all danceable. As a matter of fact, they were the best damn dancing songs around.

In my October 1956 Vancouver Sun column I previewed a new movie: "Another Rock and Roll show is coming your way. 'Mr. Rock and Roll' stars Fats Domino, Little Richard, LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhatter and many more top Rock'n'Roll stars."

These low-budget formula movies were meant to be instant box office smash hits and forgotten. The movie people were anxious to cash in on the Rock'n' Roll craze and many felt that this music form would be short lived, therefore they rushed these ’quickies' into production to grab the money while they could. They were wrong about the longevity of the music and in retrospect they should have taken more time to produce worthwhile shows on the music.

I've always felt it was interesting that a "domino" is a black object with little dots of white, while the reverse would have been true in the music world in those days. The musical "domino" was all white with many dots of black. There is no doubt that racial equality began with this music.

Jul 15 2020

7mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 16

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Here's another excerpt from Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"Robinson has a reputation of being a nostalgia king, but he is also a prime example of the difference between what broadcasters were during his heyday and what too many are now. 'Back then, deejays were bigger celebrities than the bands, and they didn’t just broadcast, they talked to their audience,' he has explained on many occasions. 'I don’t mean they took calls from listeners, I mean they got behind the mike and truly spoke to them, instead of focusing exclusively on delivering all the contents of a script within certain time parameters.

I was lucky that I entered the business as a teenager. My audience was mainly teens, so I knew their language, and I spoke to them plenty.'

Although he hasn’t said so since announcing his retirement, Robinson is frustrated that too many deejays today aren’t characters who know how to put on a great show, but puppets whose strained antics barely conceal a blind obedience to convention – which in the new millennium takes the form of political correctness so pervasive that broadcasters tend to censor themselves before regulators have a chance to do so. 'As the old joke goes, you know you’re a veteran deejay if you can remember playing practical jokes on the air without fearing lawsuits.'”

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017. In this episode: Red pays tribute to Buddy Holly, the guys discuss how the relationship between artists and DJs has changed; Elvis picks a classic for "Blue Hawaii", Bruce plays an obscure favourite.

Jul 12 2020

3mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 15

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Here's another excerpt from Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"When Red Robinson arrived in Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame induction ceremony) and the diminutive Brenda Lee approached him, he was momentarily wary. She had been charted in more music categories than any other female in the history of recorded music since her stint in Vancouver, and that was just one of her accomplishments. She had been gracious back then, but what if she was now another Bobby Darin?

The worry was obliterated when Lee hugged him and asked, 'How’s Terry Jacks doing?'

Of all the things she could have said, this was most unlikely. Jacks was a Vancouver songwriter whose 'Seasons in the Sun’ had been premiered by the broadcaster on CKWX in 1974, leading directly to it selling over 13 million copies worldwide. 'He’s doing great,' Robinson replied, surprised that Jacks was at the forefront of Lee’s mind on this special occasion.

Jacks had attended one of her performances at The Cave and went backstage later on to introduce himself and tell her of his ambitions. 'Even though he was just another of thousands of hopefuls Lee had encountered, something compelled her to contact Nashville producer Owen Bradley, who in turn assessed Jacks and awarded him with a recording contract.'

Robinson couldn’t shake the fact that Lee, swarmed by the press and facing an auditorium full of fans who had come to witness her induction, was thinking about a protege in the wilds of western Canada. 'I love telling stories about famous people like Lee, because sometimes the more important people become, the more they care for the wellbeing of others,' he says. 'Occasionally it goes the other way, but I’ve been fortunate enough to know more of the good people than the ones who are self-absorbed. Their behaviour is life-affirming.'”

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017. In this episode, a tribute to Glen Campbell; the guys highlight Lloyd Price's contribution to the new rock'n'roll era.

Jul 07 2020

3mins

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Bobby Curtola

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In early 1962 Canadians were searching for our own musical identity. It finally happened. A second generation Canadian of Italian lineage came roaring out of Port Arthur, Ontario. His name: Bobby Curtola. Bobby's managers Dyer and Basil Hurdon had taken the young singer to Nashville where arranger Bill Justis put the commercial touch to his voice and a Canadian star was born. Bobby possessed a fine clear voice and good looks. He was well mannered, soft spoken and every mother's idea of what a teenage idol should be. The material he sang was aimed directly at young girls. Bobby took the youth of the day by storm. He was the Justin Bieber of his time... without the tattoos!

Through our exposure of his hits at C-FUN, KJR in Seattle picked up on the activity that he was generating in Vancouver. Through the airplay of KJR, Del-Fi Records in Los Angeles picked up the rights to his recordings for the U.S. market. Although Bobby had a whole series of hits in the Canadian market, only two made it on the U.S. charts. Those hits were "Fortune Teller" in May of 1962 and "Aladdin" in October of the same year.

C-FUN put together a massive promotion for Bobby's first appearance in the city and allowed Vancouver teenagers to meet and greet their Canadian star at the Kitsilano Showboat. This outdoor stage was located in an amphitheatre right on the shore of one of Vancouver's beaches. The turnout for the C-FUN Good Guys' presentation of Bobby Curtola was so massive that he had to be brought in by boat to the back of the stage. It was an incredible evening in the Summer of '62. There was no doubt that the teenagers of the early sixties were looking for their own thing and they found it in part with Bobby Curtola.

Bobby was the first Canadian to earn a gold record. Curtola had an incredible 31 consecutive pop singles in the Canadian Top 40, including a dozen Top 10s. He is a member of the Order of Canada. Four years after his death, Bobby Curtola was finally recognized for his contributions to pop music in Canada by the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in March 2020.

Interview recorded at The Legends of Rock'n'Roll at EXPO86 in Vancouver. Bobby opened that night for Roy Orbison.

Jul 04 2020

18mins

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Randy Bachman

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Happy Birthday, Canada! up next in my salute to some of my favourite Canadian artists is Randy Bachman (pictured here with fellow Winnipeg legend Daryl B). Photo taken at CFUN/Vancouver by Dee Lippingwell.

Talk about a musical prodigy: Randy won a singing contest at age 3 and by 5 he was playing the violin! Randy is quoted by John Einarson in the Winnipeg Free Press: "Winnipeg in the '60s was like that movie That Thing You Do, only multiplied by a thousand. It was so exciting and alive with music." In 1962 Randy hit it big with Chad Allan and the Expressions "Shakin' All Over". Early radio pressings of the single were simply labeled "Guess Who?" and that's where the name originated.

Between 1969 and 1970, The Guess Who sold more records than the entire Canadian music industry combined. My friend Bruce Allen took an interest in Randy's fledgling band Brave Belt, which morphed into Bachman-Turner Overdrive. BTO became one of the most successful bands of the Seventies. The Guess Who and BTO deserve a place in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!

In this 1982 interview with Terry Moore, Randy reflects on his success and putting fame into perspective; the downside of music industry promotion; life after music.

Randy hosts CBC and Sirius XM radio program Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap and he's authored two books: Vinyl Tap Stories and Tales From Beyond The Tap.

Sony Music is releasing "The Bachman-Cummings Collection" limited edition box set, and Randy and Burton are planning to celebrate the music of the Guess Who and BTO with a rescheduled North American reunion tour! "Together Again - Live In Concert" kicks off next summer. They'll be at Rogers Arena here in Vancouver June 15, 2021. Check bachmancummings.ca for details. Stay up to date with Randy at randybachman.com.

Jul 03 2020

13mins

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Burton Cummings

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Burton Cummings is a genuine Canadian musical icon. Best known for his decade with the Guess Who and "Clap For The Wolfman", "These Eyes and "American Woman", he's also enjoyed a solo career with "Stand Tall", "My Own Way To Rock", "Break It To Them Gently" and many other hits. I refer to him as “King of the Keyboards” and he does not disappoint.

Burton and fellow Guess Who alumnus Randy Bachman grew up in Winnipeg, where they were heavily influenced by radio: particularly by one of Canada's premier Top 40 radio stations, 50,000 watt CKY (home of Peter Jackson, Daryl B and Chuck McCoy). Burton also remembers listening to old buddy Dick Biondi playing "Da Doo Ron Ron" by the Crystals on Chicago's WLS! Legend has it the band's "Albert Flasher" was inspired by a visit to Vancouver's C-FUN.

Burton is in the Juno Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has the Order of Canada. In addition Burton has a theatre named for him in Winnipeg. Great honors for a great Canadian.

You'll want to check out Burton's Facebook page facebook.com/burtoncummings. Lots of great stories from his career, Winnipeg memories and Burton's take on the music we grew up with. Well worth a visit!

This photo with Burton Cummings was taken backstage at the Red Robinson Show Theatre. The B.C. Lions sweater was a gift from the late Bobby Ackles on my 70th birthday. It says “ROBINSON” and the number 70 on the back and just the number on the front. I wore it on stage in honour of the Lions’ first outdoor win since 1982.

After the last four decades mostly in the United States, Burton now calls Moose Jaw, SK home. How Canadian is that?

Audio courtesy Global TV's Close Encounters series.

Jul 02 2020

3mins

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Michael Bublé

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I can’t take any credit for Michael Bublé’s amazing worldwide success, unfortunately, but I can take credit for appreciating his talent very early on, in the early 1990s, when I went to see him sing at the BaBalu Nightclub in Vancouver. He was only a teenager, but he reminded me of Bobby Darin, who I love, and I figured he would achieve some measure of fame.

Robin Brunet has a great story in Red Robinson: The Last Deejay:

"Shortly after the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond The Sea commenced production, Bruce Allen told Robinson that Michael Bublé was being visited by Kevin Spacey nightly at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, where the young singer was performing. 'Spacey keeps telling Bublé he reminds him of Bobby Darin,' Allen said.

Robinson sent Bublé (who, in his pre-fame days, played an Elvis-type soda jerk in the stage hit about Robinson’s life, Red Rock Diner) a tape of an interview he had conducted with Darin. Part of the interview featured Darin doing spot-on imitations of celebrities such as Jack Benny and Walter Winchell, much the way Spacey would entertain people off-set decades later.

Bublé gave the tape to Spacey when he next appeared at the Blue Note. 'He said he appreciated the gesture, and that was that,' says Robinson. 'Flash forward a year later: I’m with Carole and another couple at Hy’s steakhouse in Vancouver for my birthday. Carole is peering at a dark corner of the restaurant, and she nudges me: 'Do you see who that is? That’s Kevin Spacey.'

Robinson got a waiter to give the actor his business card along with a note asking if he had listened to his interview with Darin. No sooner did they resume eating than Spacey appeared at their table. 'I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m Kevin Spacey.'

Carole, who has been exposed to more than her fair share of celebrities over the decades, looked at him from head to toe and beamed. 'Of course you are; who else would you be?'

Jul 01 2020

11mins

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Anne Murray

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We should have declared May 5 to 10, 2008 Anne Murray Week in Vancouver. Canada’s first lady of song played to a full house at the 3000-seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I was asked to emcee the opening and told the crowd that I had discovered that during this, her final coast-to-coast tour, the longest applause was in Ottawa with a three minute standing ovation at the end of the show. I urged everyone in the audience to beat Ottawa and they did by 30 seconds. Later that week at the Red Robinson Show Theatre (another sellout), the audience there beat them all with a 5 minute standing ovation.

After the show we met Anne in the Green Room for this interview. We were joined by photographer Kevin Statham, TV camera person Sharron Bates, Carole, and some of Anne’s people. Bruce Allen, Anne’s manager, was on the speaker phone from backstage at Michael Buble’s Santa Barbara concert.

I told Anne that we had a special gift for her: the audio of Anne’s complete show at the Cave Theatre Restaurant in 1971- recorded illegally. It is one of a kind and might have been lost over the decades but it was discovered in the late deeay Jack Cullen’s collection. My friend Owen Coppin rescued it and copied it onto a disc. We had the pleasure of presenting it to Anne. She was awestruck as she had no idea anything like this existed. It was a special evening with a special lady.

Jul 01 2020

4mins

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Paul Anka

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During 1957's "Show of Stars" in Vancouver, it was my job to introduce each act as they appeared on stage, then I would rush backstage and tape a quick interview with one of the stars. The show was literally a live jukebox presentation, hit artist after hit artist and song after song. Eddie Cochran, Jimmy Bowen, Buddy Knox, Don and Phil Everly, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, George Hamilton IV, Buddy Holly and the Crickets - an incredible assortment of talent, a Who's Who of early rock and roll.

Paul Anka was just fifteen when I first met him during this tour. He was arrogant but to me this was his way of covering up his obvious inferiority complex. After all, he was the youngest on the show, the shortest and had to compensate. His first hit "Diana" had just been released in the summer of 1957 and it launched his career. It came across as arrogance but there was no question about his talent and his stage presence. He was, at the time, the only Canadian who had made it into the international arena of Rock and Roll. On my taped interview with him during this time he sounds cocky but if he hadn't been, who else would have listened to him, who else would have promoted him?

Paul Anka was, and always has been, his own best promoter. He works at this as much as he works at songwriting and everything that he involves himself with. One of the differences with Paul Anka was his ability to write most of his own material. He has not only written hits for himself, but for others. He wrote "My Way" for Frank Sinatra and "She's A Lady" for Tom Jones and many other hits for many other singers. His lasting power is proven with these contributions to the world of music. I have talked with Paul many times over the years and he has never forgotten our first meeting in Vancouver in those early days. He is an incredible person and a talent Canada can shout about.

Jun 30 2020

6mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 14

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Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com. Here's another excerpt:

"First up as their mikes go live is a discussion about how radio stations used to be advertised by jingles, complete with catchy lyrics. 'They were infectious,' Robinson tells listeners.

'We wanted them to be in block chords so everybody could sing them and have emotional impact,' says O’Day. 'We didn't do it just to identify the station, we did it as a commercial for the station. We wanted them to be love songs, if you will, about the radio station.

'With the World’s Fair coming to Seattle in 1962, our jingles at KJR were old-fashioned and we needed to do something different; so I sat in the basement and wrote a jingle, which I stole from the Los Angeles station Channel 98. That resulted in a jingle still sung by people in Seattle!'

The KJR jingles are played, and then Robinson plays jingles from C-FUN. The short segment is capped by O’Day acknowledging that the jingles may sound corny in retrospect, but they caused people to whistle the melodies in public: the best mass market advertising any station could hope for."

In this episode, a medley of classic KJR and C-FUN jingles; Red and Pat swap Jerry Lee Lewis concert stories.

Jun 27 2020

10mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 13

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"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017. Here's another excerpt from Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"Meanwhile, in the lounge, there is joking about the guest format of Robinson’s final broadcast. Someone says to program director Stu Ferguson, 'Whose broadcast is this, anyway?'

Ferguson takes the comment in stride. 'Red’s in his element when he lets others with his experience do the talking.' Although the spotlight has shone on Robinson since his teenage years, he’s part of a tightly knit community of fellow travellers and loves when the attention directed at him is disseminated to include them.

At this point in the broadcast, younger people at CISL may well have wondered why so much attention was being paid to singers who are merely recognizable names in the 21st century, nostalgia value notwithstanding.

But in a sense, what Robinson, O’Day, and Allen are conducting is a history class. The subject may be pop culture, but as with any subject it’s impossible to fully appreciate today’s trends without understanding what led to them.

In the case of Elvis Presley, he fused the country-western music of the South with the rhythm and blues of African Americans to form rockabilly, which became one of the key sounds in rock and roll. Without him, musical entertainment today would be entirely different."

In this episode, Pat and Red share their memories of Paul Revere and The Raiders; Bruce tells the story behind Elvis' "If I Can Dream".

Jun 20 2020

3mins

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 12

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"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017.

O’Day, who is emerging as the trio’s prime storyteller and who shares Robinson’s knack for shifting gears, interrupts. “Speaking of funny Hawaiian twists, Tom Rounds was the music director of KPOI in Honolulu,” he says in his melodious manner of speaking. “I’m over there on vacation, I think it’s ’64, and we were sitting in his office opening packages of new records, and we put on this thing from MGM and listened to it. I said, 'God, that is the strangest thing. I think it’s a hit.’

“Tom Rounds says, 'I agree.’ So, I called the station in Seattle right away. I said, 'There’s a record on MGM, you got to get it out of the envelope, get it on the air right now. I am telling you it’s a hit.’”

O’Day gets to the punch line: “It was Sam The Sham, 'Wooly Bully’. Not one of the greatest artistic achievements of our time, but it went to number one.” Allen and Robinson laugh.

Also in this episode, Red and Bruce talk Neil Diamond; the guys remember an appearance by Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast is out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

Jun 12 2020

4mins

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Susan Jacks Remembers "Which Way You Goin' Billy?"

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I first met Susan Jacks (then Susan Pesklevits) on the set of Let’s Go, Vancouver’s weekly contribution to the CBC-TV series Music Hop. I co-hosted with Fred Latremouille. The show allowed Canadian talent to get exposure from coast-to-coast on television. Susan was a wonderfully talented, stunningly beautiful lady with a voice like silk.

Susan married and divorced another Let’s Go performer, Terry Jacks, but in between they created some of Canada’s most memorable hit records as the Poppy Family. Terry was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2004 and Susan was inducted in 2010.

50 years ago this week, the Poppy Family’s “Which Way You Goin’, Billy?” reached #1 on music trade magazine Cashbox and #2 on Billboard (right behind The Beatles' The Long And Winding Road). It was Vancouver's first million-seller! Susan Jacks remembers how the song's title came about.

Jun 11 2020

1min

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The Last Broadcast: Episode 11

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You've heard the radio, now read the book! Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, is available now from friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com

"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017.

In this episode, the guys recall Ray Charles' roots in Seattle; Red and Pat share how they helped make Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" a multi-millon seller in 1963.

Jun 05 2020

3mins

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