ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #25 March 20th 2018.

Woke up around 9am and got myself ready fairly quickly. Spent some time working on an email that our manager, Andrew Turner, of Enlightened Management, is sending to Mr Moses Znaimer, former head of City, the first independent television station in Toronto and the current head of ZoomerMedia.

Moses, is a true visionary, a legend in his field and suffice to say that his accomplishments are far too many and too vast to list here. That said however, most of us 80’s nerds, know him and love him, for one amazing reality that he brought into our living rooms each and every 24 hours of a day, seven days a week, our beloved, MuchMusic.❤️

  “Ladies & Gentlemen, the cast from HAIR!”

 “Ladies & Gentlemen, the cast from HAIR!”

In 1984, Znaimer and John Martin’s vision of a 24-hour music video station was realized with it’s creation. Much like the atmosphere and aesthetics of City TV, MuchMusic emphasized its “live” feel and it’s off-the-cuff, spontaneity, and for a more-than-brief, beautiful moment in time, Glass Tiger owned its airwaves!!

 Chart Toppers   

Chart Toppers

 

It was often mentioned that Glass Tiger was to MuchMusic what Duran Duran was to MTV. It seemed at times like we were never off of their station. Live in-studio guest spots, interviews, goofy segments, judging contests, presenting hit video after hit video, which all seemed to chart high or hit #1. We became like family with their VJ’s. We even won the World Video Award for I’m Still Searching, pipping out, none-other-than, Duran Duran.

 MuchMusic and Glass Tiger..,,,,,ahhhhhhh!  

MuchMusic and Glass Tiger..,,,,,ahhhhhhh!  

J.D. Roberts, Denise Donlon, Laurie Brown, Christopher Ward, Erica Ehm, Mike Richards, Steve Anthony to name but a few, have all gone on to stellar careers as journalists, songwriters, actors, activists etc, but way back when, we were all just “young Turks” cutting our teeth, live on the air, like the filled a vibrancy, charisma, charm and innocence, that only comes with  flying by the seat of our pants. We were all new to this but it was an amazing time to be in this business of music. 

 Glass Tiger MuchMusic special, “ Live From The Ontario Place Forum.” 

Glass Tiger MuchMusic special, “ Live From The Ontario Place Forum.” 

The VJ’s even came on the road with us at times. I especially remember when Erica Ehm came over with contest winners, to Switzerland. I can see us sitting in the middle of what was basically, a field, on the crest of a beautiful hill, situated below the Swiss Alps, looking down on a town that totally belonged in The Sound Of Music, with all our hair, our 80’s sunglasses, garb and “bling” feeling like, “Wow, how did we get here?” What fun we had.

 

 “Guess what?” 

“Guess what?” 

A no-rush, checkout at 11:15 a.m. and off to the airport in Lethbridge, which is tiny. I mean, no-place-to-get-a-cup-of-tea, type of tiny. And while we are on the topic of “wee” our plane was an 18-seater Beechcraft. You know, the type of plane where the pilot can just turn around in his seat and say, “ok guys! Buckle up!”

 “ What? “

“ What? “


There wasn’t a direct flight to Saskatoon, therefore we had to go via, Calgary.

 “There’s a wee plane coming.” 

“There’s a wee plane coming.” 

We arrived there at 1:45 pm and headed to immediately to the Air Canada lounge for a bite and a drink. Sorry West Jet, but your idea of a lounge just doesn’t quite match up yet. I love the Calgary Air Canada Lounge, its definitely one of my favourites. I had a hearty bowl of soup and some hummus which hit the spot. No! I did not have a Guinness 🤥

 No I am not flying the plane, I am in row 1. 😳 

No I am not flying the plane, I am in row 1. 😳 


Boarded and set off for Saskatoon around 3:15pm. I can’t possibly go back to “Saskie” without hearing Burton singing in my head;

Moose Jaw, Broadview, Moosomin too

Runnin' back to Saskatoon

The song was recorded by the Canadian rock group, The Guess Who, back in 1972, (the year I came to Canada), for the album Live at the Paramount. They never recorded a studio version of the song and the hit single version is the live recording from May 22, 1972. By the time I arrived in Canada in the August of that year, the song was all over the radio and the Guess Who became the FIRST band, outside of the UK that I fell in love with. Share The Land, and of course, American Woman remain classics in my playlist but I will always have a soft spot for Running Back To Saskatoon.

Here’s a cool fact. In the summer of 1971, Rod Stewart released the iconic song, Maggie May, sending my 14yr old head spinning with aspirations of my own pop stardom.

 Rod “The Mod” Stewart. 

Rod “The Mod” Stewart. 

I used to go into my room and impersonate him as best I could. Then of course, the following summer, I moved to Canada and get to hear, as mentioned, the fabulous Guess Who Band.

 He’s saying, “Ya bastard! You never came to my party!”  

He’s saying, “Ya bastard! You never came to my party!”  

Little did I know, that within 15 to 20 years later, I would have the honour of calling them both pals and would go on to work with both of them. Just how “cool” is that?

With Rod of course, we recorded, My Town together, which is on Glass Tiger’s album, Simple Mission. I had gotten to know Rod for at least a year or more before we did that when he invited me to “kick the ball around” on Sunday Mornings at the park. He also invited me to various dinners and a friendship was struck up that at no time involved the idea of us duetting together. Such was not the case however when he heard of a song called, My Town that of course from my perspective, lyrically, is about Scotland. That sentiment immediately got his attention and the rest is history.

Burton Cummings, on the other hand, is someone I have mainly spent time around when we are both in “live” performance. I have opened for him numerous times and spent hours chatting with him, enjoying a drink or two, after those concerts are over. He used to love to “bust my balls” over the following incident;

Back when Glass Tiger was recording the video, in Los Angeles, for our song Animal Heart, Burton came out to the shoot. We hadn’t met prior to that day, and during a quiet moment he told me of a time when he wasn’t in a good place both physically and mentally. Life was basically a “downer” and he was pretty broken.

 On the set of Animal Heart with EMI rep, Jody Mitchell, our drummer, Randall Coryell and director, (the guy who’s name we are trying to remember.) 

On the set of Animal Heart with EMI rep, Jody Mitchell, our drummer, Randall Coryell and director, (the guy who’s name we are trying to remember.) 

One day in a moment of sadness and depression Burton turned on the radio and heard a song called Someday. He loved it. It cheered him up. It encouraged and re-inspired him to get up and shake himself off, and when he heard that we were Canadian? Well that was it!! He was sold on this band. And so he came to our video shoot to meet us and by the way, he brought his “over-the-shoulder-80’s-camera with him and he filmed all day behind the scenes. At the end of the shoot he invited us to a party at his house, telling us about a new sound system he had purchased for the occasion. Well Dear Canada, I was exhausted and my life was filled with “what do the record label want me to do next?” I was fighting for every spare moment I could get and so.....I didn’t go to Burton’s place. I skipped the party altogether. 

Oh dear! It turns out that the whole purpose of doing this party was actually sort of, FOR US! Time went by, years actually, and I opened for him on his one man show and later after he performed I went in to see him in his dressing room. He let me have it! “I threw a frickin’ bash for you, you bugger. I even got a brand new sound system installed and everything and ya never even came!”  Needless to say I felt like a complete heel. There was no dodging it lol He likes to remind me of it still, but of course it’s all in fun.

Rod Stewart and Burton Cummings have much in common. Both are superb songwriters, vocalists and performers. Both are filled with charm and charisma. Both are veterans of Rock’n’Roll and are storytellers of the highest order. I could listen to them all night, in awe. Both of them are just “lads” who happen to be able to hold a tune pretty well 😉

When I suffered my stroke, Burton was one of the first to post notice to his fans that I needed all the positive energy they could send me. He also sent me his love and best wishes. I will never forget that.

 The Delta, Bessborough. 

The Delta, Bessborough. 

We landed around 5:15pm and headed to one of my favourite hotels, the Delta, Bessborough which is an historical landmark here and it’s known for its castle-like appearance. It was built by the Canadian National Railway from 1928 to 1932 and is designed in the same Chateau-esque style as many of Canada’s other railway hotels. It’s named after the 9th Earl of Bessborough and I think without a doubt is the nicest hotel here in Saskatoon.

I managed to squeeze in my pre-show soak in a lovely, warm, tub, which is becoming somewhat of a ritual.

 Another “young turk.” 

Another “young turk.” 

We had a lobby call of 8pm which got us to the venue after Johnny had already gone on. The ritualistic nature of it all is becoming a major part of how well everything is flowing smoothly. It’s always fun on the times when I haven’t seen Johnny at all on the day and the first time we meet is when he comes out to duet with me on Wae Yer Family. Two pals meeting at work, and play.

Audience loved it. We loved it.

 Take a bow boys!  

Take a bow boys!  

The lads went for a pint to a British Pub up the street, while I just went down to the  lobby bar and sat and had a bite and a beer.

Hit my bed around 1am

Goodnight Dear Canada, until tomorrow.

                    ~Alan