Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Neil (Young) went to play for awhile in Thunder Bay...

" On the other side of Winnipeg, Neil and The Squires
played the Zone
But then he went to play,for awhile in Thunder Bay
He never looked back and he’s never coming home"
Randy Bachman "Prairie Town"

Neil Young was born in Toronto Ontario Nov 12 1945 the son of famed Canadian sports writer Scott Young. When his parents divorced Neil moved to Winnipeg with his mother and through the years ,both Toronto and Winnipeg have claimed him as their own native son. Fort William Ontario however,has a bit of a claim of its own.  Neil spent time here in late 1964-65,of his time in Fort William, Neil says in
"Don't be Denied" by John Einarson

 "Fort William is like  a forgotten chapter in my life. It had an immense impact on me because I really started to grow on my own. Fort William was more important than Toronto for me in terms of growth as a singer and songwriter. I gained a lot of valuable experience there."

Several interesting things occured in Fort William. between October 1964,when Neil Young and his band The Squires came to Fort William and June 17th 1965. The Squires travelled to Fort William and secured a one week engagement at The Flamingo Club (aka The Flame) starting Oct 13 ,and returning November 2 for a two week engagement. During the November stay, Neil turned 19,and wrote "Sugar Mountain"at the
Vic Hotel (Victoria Hotel) on his birthday.

While in FW, Neil became friends with local musicians,and with then CJLX DJ Ray Dee (Delatinsky),with Ray becoming a somewhat local contact/manager for Neil.  With Ray Dee as the producer,Neil recorded his singing for the first time Nov 23 1964 during a late night recording session at CJLX studio's on Victoria Ave. Three songs were recorded in that session, "I'll Love You Forever", " I Wonder" and "Together Alone".

In April 1965 Neil and The Squires packed up to move to Fort William.While here a spin off of the Au Go Go Singers "The Company" were playing the 4D (Fourth Dimension), April 18 1965. Young became fast friends with a member of that group in a fateful meeting in Rock and Roll history named Steven Stills. "Cruising around and drinking strong Canadian beer" as Stills recalls,when Stills departed both shared a strong desire to play together. The roots of the Buffalo Springfield had been sewn and the later Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
June 17 1965, Neil headed east to take local musician Terry Erickson to play a gig in Sudbury,with Tommy Horricks and Donny Brown of "The Bonnevilles" joining in. Neil's beloved hearse "Mort" blew its transmission and after being unable to have it repaired headed east to Toronto to his father's home in Toronto with Erickson and Fort William would become a part of Neil's past. "Long May You Run" (1976) which Neil played during the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics tells the story.

"well it was back in Blind River in 1962 (actually 1965) when I last saw you alive,but we missed that shift on the long decline,long may you run."  

 In the waning days in Fort William,the bands name changed as they became "The High Flying Bird". Having been booked to play an engagement at "Smitty's Pancake House" on Memorial Ave,when the ill fated sojourn to Sudbury took place the date went unfulfilled,the sign outside read "The Bird has flown", ending Neil's time in Fort William.
During his time in Toronto, Neil replaced "Mort" with another hearse, and eventually ventured off to Los Angeles in early 1966 with Bruce Palmer in search of Stills, after a previous trip to NYC hoping to connect with Stills, had Stills already gone. Stopped at a red light on Sunset Blvd., Stills spotted a hearse with Ontario plates heading the opposite direction and chased it down believing it was his friend Neil. Young and Palmer teamed up with Stills, Richie Furay and fellow Canadian Dewey Martin to form Buffalo Springfield fulfilling the seed sewn in Fort William with Steven Stills, to play together.
Years later while compiling his Archives collection,out of the blue Neil called Ray Dee inquiring if he still had the masters from that long ago recording session at CJLX. Ray flew down to Young's California ranch with tapes in hand. The two drove across Young's ranch, Neil stopped the truck,and apologized for leaving Ray behind without a word all those years before. Young explained that without "Mort", he couldn't return.
Having left Fort William in his rear view mirrors back in June 1965, Neil Young would return one day,almost 27 years later on May 23rd 1992, to receive an honoury doctrate in music from Lakehead University. During his speech Young recalled his days in the Lakehead,thanked Ray Dee and told the story of "Mort".

Ad in FW Times Journal for their first appearance at the Flamingo in October 1964.

An article by John Einarson, chronicling Young's time in Fort William
appeared in the Chronicle Journal Saturday December 21/1991

Neil received an honorary doctrate in music from Lakehead University
in May 23/1992 with his father Scott attending the ceremony.

On Buffalo Springfield's second album "Buffalo Springfield Again",members listed influences and inspiration's in their career. Fort William appears in the last column,representing Young's time here and maybe a bit for Stills as well. 

John Einarson's "Don't Be Denied" tells of Neil Young's Canada years.

Neil's dad Scott Young wrote this book on Neil

"Shakey" give's great detail of Neil's time in FW and his friendship with Ray Dee

Neil Young Archives Volume 1 Book has six pages on Fort William


Saturday, April 7, 2012

R.M.S. Titanic 100 years have passed...

The story of the Titanic has been well documented over the past 100 years. Deemed to be "almost unsinkable",though this was not from the builder,Harland & Wolff in Belfast,but rather from a trade journal. The Titanic was the middle of three sister ships, Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic, two of the three,Titanic and Britannic had short lives.

Britannic,the third of the sisters was launched in Feb 1914 and was requisitioned into military service as a hospital ship for WW I in 1915. Having completed five successful voyages to the Middle Eastern Theatre and back to the United Kingdom transporting the sick and wounded soldiers,Britannic struck a mine off the Greek island of Kea November 21 1916, and sank with the loss of 30 lives.

Olympic,the first of the three,was launched in Oct 1910,and was not without incident in its lifetime,which exceeded both sister ships combined. The first incident was Sept 20 1911, when she collided with a British warship, HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight. Although the incident resulted in the flooding of two of her compartments and a twisted propeller shaft, Olympic was able to return to Southampton under her own power. In Sept 1915,Olympic was requisitioned by the Admiralty to be used as a fast troop transport and stripped of her peacetime fittings, and armed with 12-pounders and 4.7-inch guns, the newly-designated HMT (His Majesty's Transport) 2810 left Liverpool on 24 September 1915, carrying soldiers to Mudros, Greece. On Oct 1 lifeboats from the French ship Provincia which had been sunk by a U-boat that morning were spotted off Cape Matapan and Olympic picked up 34 survivors.From 1916 to 1917, Olympic was chartered by the Canadian Government to transport troops from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain.  In Aug 1919 Olympic returned to Belfast for restoration to civilian service,with its interior modernized and boilers converted to burn oil rather than coal. In 1934,at the instigation of the British government,White Star Line merged with the Cunard Line. This merger allowed funds to be granted for the completion of the future RMS Queen Mary. Cunard White Star then started retiring its surplus tonnage, which included the majority of the old White Star liners,sending them to the "breakers". Olympic was withdrawn from service in 1935 and sold to be partially demolished and its final demolition taking place in 1937.Though the majestic Titanic sank on its maiden voyage,and became the greatest maritime disaster in history,with over 1500 deaths,it is a story that will never cease being told.

In the April 15 1912 edition of the Fort William Times Journal, the reports suggested
all onboard were safe and be transported to shore.

But the next day,the news couldn't
have been worse!

A display of books on the Titanic disaster at the Brodie St library,marking the
100th anniversary of the disaster

For some incredible pictures of the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic,check out
 National Geographic.