By Adam Bunch
BRYAN ADAMS MAKES IT BIG
Bryan Adams was only 25 years old when he became an international superstar. However, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee was far from an overnight success. He was born in Kingston, Ontario, and grew up travelling all over the world. His father was a United Nations peacekeeper turned diplomat and his postings took the family to Portugal, Austria and Israel. Finally, though, Adams settled back home in Canada – in Vancouver – where he began to make a name for himself as a young musician. He was still just a teenager in the 1970s when he began to play in his first bands and to establish his career as a session musician, including regular gigs for the CBC.
The next step came in 1978, when Adams was only 18 years old. That’s when he met Jim Vallance, a slightly older and more experienced musician. The two became songwriting partners and by the end of the year Adams had signed his first recording contract for the staggering sum of exactly $1.
His solo career started slowly. His self-titled debut came out two years later and was, at first, such a moderate success that Adams considered calling his second record “Bryan Adams Hasn’t Heard of You Either.” But things were about to change. His sophomore release, You Want It You Got It, produced Adams’ first Top 40 single in Canada – and it was just a hint of what was to come. His third record, Cuts Like a Knife, took off. The album produced three Top 10 singles and the entire LP broke into the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. There was no question now: Bryan Adams was a star.
It was his next album that made him a superstar. It was during this week in 1984 that Reckless first appeared on record store shelves. It produced six singles that climbed into the top 15 slots on the Billboard charts – including “Summer of ’69” and “Run to You” – joining Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. as the only previous albums to have ever pulled off that feat. This time, Adams made it all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and, to date, the record has sold more than 12 million copies. Exactly 30 years after it was first released, Reckless is still widely considered to be one of the greatest Canadian albums of all time.
“SUMMER OF ’69” BY BRYAN ADAMS
TWO GOLD RECORDS FOR SHANIA TWAIN
This was also a big week for another Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee. It was during this week in 1996 that Shania Twain’s self-titled debut album was certified Gold. It had been released three years earlier, but it wasn’t a big hit right away. It was Twain’s second album, The Woman in Me, that made her a star – and that’s when all of her new fans went looking for her earlier album, which would, in fact, eventually go Platinum. The Windsor, Ontario–born singer-songwriter went on to become the best-selling female artist in the entire history of country music.
The following year, she was back at it again. It was during this week in 1997 that Twain landed another Gold certification. This time, it was for a single off of her third record, Come on Over. “Love Gets Me Every Time” rocketed up the charts: it spent six weeks at the top of the country charts in Canada and five in the United States, making it one of Twain’s biggest hits ever.
“LOVE GETS ME EVERY TIME” BY SHANIA TWAIN
By Adam Bunch
“SWEET CITY WOMAN” HITS THE TOP 10
In 1971, you’d be hard-pressed to find any Canadian band bigger than the Stampeders, and by then, the group had already been around for years. The band originally formed in Calgary – just as you might expect – as five high-school students calling themselves The Rebounds. This was all the way back in 1964, in the early days of Beatlemania and the British Invasion, but the Stampeders, as they soon began to call themselves, were a distinctly Canadian group, embracing their Albertan heritage by wearing cowboy hats, boots and denim.
Soon, they headed east, hitching a trailer to the back of their old Cadillac, playing gigs on their way across the Prairies and down the Canadian Shield until they finally reached the booming metropolis of Toronto. There, the 1960s folk and rock scene, which had been home to Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Zal Yanovsky, Denny Doherty and John Kay, was still in full swing, filling clubs all over Yorkville and the Yonge Street strip. It didn’t take long for the Stampeders to make a name for themselves in the big city, with their distinctly western fashion sense and catchy pop-rock tunes. Over the next few years, the band solidified its sound and its lineup, building momentum all along.
In 1971, the Stampeders finally released their debut full-length album. It was a big one. Against the Grain produced three Top 10 singles and helped to earn the band a JUNO Award for Best Group. The biggest hit off the record is still a radio staple more than 40 years later. It was during this week in 1971 that the Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” peaked all the way up at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“SWEET CITY WOMAN” BY THE STAMPEDERS
GALE GARNETT TOPS THE CHARTS
This was also a big week for another Canadian star. Gale Garnett was born in New Zealand, but moved to Canada as a child. She spent her formative years here, before heading south to Hollywood as an orphaned teenager. There, both her acting and singing careers took off. Her biggest hit came in 1964 when “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” climbed the charts. The tune, written by Garnett herself, soared all the way into the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and during this week in 1964, it peaked at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart. The song would go on to be covered by the likes of Dolly Parton, Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, Helen Reddy, and Sony and Cher. But it’s still Garnett’s version we know best. Fifty years later, she still lives in Toronto, where she enjoys a successful writing career.
“WE’LL SING THE SUNSHINE” BY GALE GARNETT
By Adam Bunch
‘YOU FORGOT IT IN PEOPLE’ ARRIVES
2001. That was the year Broken Social Scene released its debut album, Feel Good Lost. It was, for the most part, an ambient, instrumental affair. There were barely any lyrics at all. And while the band would eventually boast a huge lineup, Feel Good Lost was written and performed almost entirely by just two musicians: Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The record earned positive reviews, but it barely hinted at what was about to happen.
At the very end of that same year, the band began to record its second album. By the time it was done, Broken Social Scene’s roster had expanded dramatically. More than a dozen musicians would play on the band’s sophomore effort. Joining Drew and Canning this time around was a long list of musicians from other groups in the Toronto music scene. There was Leslie Feist, who had played with By Divine Right and sung backing vocals for Peaches (and also appeared on that first record). Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric. Andrew Whiteman from Apostle of Hustle and The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. Plus, members of Stars and Do Make Say Think and Raising the Fawn… the list went on and on. The impressive new lineup meant a bigger, fuller sound, combining the first record’s atmospherics with a more accessible emphasis on vocals. It was full of songs that could fill the night air at massive outdoor festivals. And soon they would.
It was during this week in 2002 that You Forgot It In People was released. It was very good timing. The Internet was beginning to revolutionize the music industry. The rules were changing. The old, American-centric distribution and promotion networks had always been a challenge for Canadian artists who were still based at home. But now, new blogs and websites like Pitchfork were the tastemakers; they could reach across national barriers with the click of a mouse. When Pitchfork gave You Forgot It In People a 9.2 out of 10 and said it “explodes with song after song of endlessly re-playable, perfect pop,” it helped turn Broken Social Scene into an international phenomenon. It also helped to mark the beginning of a new era for Canadian music. Now, Canadian bands could stay at home while reaching a global audience more easily than ever before.
For Broken Social Scene, the change came just in time – because, as one influential blog, Tiny Mix Tapes, put it: “You Forgot It in People is one of the most incredible albums to come out of Canada in a very long time. Hell, it’s one of the best albums to come out of anywhere, really.”
“STARS AND SONS” BY BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
By Adam Bunch
A BIG HIT FOR K.D. LANG
It was 1992 and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee k.d. lang was at the top of her game. Her previous album – 1989’s Absolute Torch and Twang, recorded with her backing group, The Reclines – had been a huge hit. It raced up the charts and earned the singer some new hardware: she took home both the JUNO Award *and* the Grammy Award for best country female vocalist.
Now she had a new record. It was called Ingénue and it would prove to be an even bigger hit than her previous album. That year, lang’s songs were in regular rotation on radio stations all over the world. The album charted in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Japan. It was nominated for album of the year at the Grammys and won the award for best album at the JUNOs.
The biggest hit on the record would be one of the most popular singles of lang’s entire career. It would go on to inspire a Rolling Stones song and win the award for best female video at the MTV Video Music Awards. More than 20 years later, the song is still hailed as a Canadian classic. It was during this week in 1992 that “Constant Craving” peaked in the Top 40 of the Billboard charts.
“CONSTANT CRAVING” BY K.D. LANG
AN EVEN BIGGER HIT FOR PAUL ANKA
This was also a big week on the charts for Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Paul Anka. In 1959, he was still just a teenager and pretty new to the world of pop stardom. His first big hit single, “Diana,” wasn’t released until 1957. Just two years later he was already one of the biggest stars on the planet. Years before Beatlemania, Anka’s fans would shriek and scream and mob the Ottawa native wherever he went. In 1959, the 18-year-old put three different singles into the Billboard Top 10.
In July, “Lonely Boy” peaked at the very top, hitting No. 1. It ruled over the chart for four straight weeks before Elvis Presley finally knocked it out of the top slot.
Later, at the very end of the year, “It’s Time to Cry” followed that success by climbing all the way up to No. 5.
And between those two hits was “Put Your Head on My Shoulder.” During this week in 1959, it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would spend 11 weeks on the chart, a longer run that almost any other song released that year.
“PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER” BY PAUL ANKA