New book celebrates Canada’s pop music pioneers

December 04, 2017

Back in the day (and by ‘the day’ I mean the era when pop and rock ‘n’ roll exploded in the ‘50s to the ‘70s), Canada was a hotbed for up-and-coming bands, just like everywhere else. It’s not like things are so crazy different now, but there was a time when pop and rock were new, and it would’ve been hard to throw a rock and not hit some band doing their best Chuck Berry or swiveling their hips like The King. Now, the ‘Trivia Guys’—writers Mark Kearney and Randy Ray—have collected as much info as they could about this boom time for pop music in Canada, speaking to the artists that were involved for a new book named As The Years Go By: Conversations with Canada’s Folk, Pop & Rock Pioneers.


As the Ottawa Citizen reports, Ray and Kearney have put together some fascinating history in their new book, which includes info on around 140 Canadian musical acts including The Esquires—a pop group that at one point featured Bruce Cockburn as a member and toured with the Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones (!)—and Five Man Electrical Band, who you might know from their hit tune “Signs,” which rules. One of the craziest things to hear from that Ottawa Citizen story is that The Esquires were making $300 per band member every week to play gigs. For perspective, a regular, young touring band trying to make a go of it now can hope to nab $100 to $200 a night for their guarantee. Plus, with inflation, $300 in 1960 is the equivalent of over $2,400 in 2017. Bonkers.


In the ‘80s, Ray and Kearney turned their idea to profile these artists into a running and syndicated music column cross-country. And as the Citizen points out, their interviews are becoming more important for the history of Canadian music every day, as many of the musicians they’ve spoken to are growing older and passing away. It sounds like the book is chock full of anecdotes and fun facts—ones that would be hard to find otherwise—about the rise of pop music in Canada, so if you wanna grab yourself a copy, you can get the e-book on Amazon or head over to to order a softcover.

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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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