Marc LaFrance - drums, lead vocals
Hermann Fruhm - keyboards, vocals
Larry Pink - keyboards
Bill Wallace - bass guitar, lead vocals
Bob Deutscher - guitar, vocals
Bob Hermann Bill
I had met the group Crowcuss out of Winnipeg which included two former members of The Guess Who, Bill Wallace and Greg Leskiw in Edmonton in 1976. They had been formed from remnants of the groups Mood Jga Jga which included Greg and Hermann Fruhm and Musical Odyssey which included Marc and Larry. I had been knocked out by their sound. In those days, in the bars, it was somewhat unusual to see a band playing mostly their own material but this was one of them. I sat in on a couple of their gigs in Calgary during the latter days of my tenure at Sound One. In October '78, Hermann gave me a call asking if I'd like to audition for the guitar chair which Greg had vacated. They had been playing as a four piece unit without guitar and had signed with and recorded the album "Crowcuss" for Holger Peterson's Stony Plain Records. I jumped at the chance and was accepted into the band in late '78.
In early '79 the band had a Number 1 Hit in, of all places, Guatemala with Larry's compostion Running Start. This led to our appearing on several TV programs including the Alan Hamel Show on CTV and others on CBC. We had the cover story of the Sept '79 issue of Music Express published by Keith Sharp and played many concerts with the likes of Burton Cummings (CNE Grandstand, Toronto), Prism (PNE Stadium, Vancouver), The Charlie Daniels Band, Goddo, Doucette, Long John Baldry, One Horse Blue and Streetheart.
I would have to say that this was the most talented group of musicians I have ever played with. There was an almost overabundant amount of ideas coming from it's individuals. I learned that whoever shouted loudest and longest would get his way arrangement-wise if there was a debate! Recording the "Starting To Show" album in the summer of '79 was a truly gratifying experience for me although I was sicker than a dog while tracking the title song. It was produced by Greg Riker from Indianapolis in 8 days of recording and three mixing at Century 21 Studios in Winnipeg.
The album got panned in it's day but I still believe it stands up now as we all believed then. Holger arranged for the album to be released in Japan on Trio Records as well as in the USA as a compilation of songs from both albums distributed by First American Records. Radio just didn't pick up on the record and that, along with a management arrangement that didn't pan out with Lindsay Shelfontik and Grant Harder and some ensuing personality conflicts, led to the bands demise. All of us except Bill moved to Vancouver in mid '80 and for awhile we tried to quash rumours of the band's breakup but soon enough it was evident that it was over. For a short period of time just prior to our break-up, we had Perry White, a young tenor saxophonist from Vancouver touring with the band.
Les Bateman was working at CBC Vancouver at this time and through the acquaintance of his then wife Delby, who was an awesome session singer at the time, Marc LaFrance got his own foot in the door of the Vancouver studio scene as a session singer himself. He has since accumulated innumerable album credits including his own solo effort Out Of Nowhere produced by Paul Dean. Marc has also created a children's television program called Babblebrook and has his own record label, Delinquent Records. Larry has played and recorded with One Horse Blue and Hermann has recently recorded with Mood Jga Jga on their second album. They all have remained in Vancouver. Bill is currently back with the reunited Guess Who. Check out his website at beancakes.com. There you will find a lot of Road Tales as well as the unfinished story of Crowcuss.
Here's a selection of my solos from the Stony Plain Records album 'Starting To Show', produced by Greg Riker and recorded at Century 21 Studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in July 1979. Check out some live clips here.
Herm and Larry had spent a couple hours working out some keyboard parts while I waited to do my solo overdub. When my turn finally came I cut the track in two takes the second of which was only to fix the way it resolved into the vocal. I used my Fender Esquire with a Dod Overdrive unit and an Electroharmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress Flanger for the effect. I had two amps set up for most tracks, my early '60s Fender Twin and a Roland JC-120.
Starting To Show
I had some weird flu-like virus while we were cutting this track. I had been resting in another studio until it was time to cut this track. As with most of my solos, I was in the control room with a long cord leading from my guitar to my amp in the studio. The guitar of choice in this case was my '58 Gibson Les Paul SGSpecial
I used my modified early '50s Gibson Les Paul on this track.
Long Time Coming
This was a live take of the band off the floor in the studio at about 4:00 AM one morning. Here I used my Esquire, again through the Roland. The only overdubs were Larry's solo and the vocals.
Disco 12" 45 Jacket Front (back is the same)
Blindman Valley festival, Bentley, Alberta
Starting To Show Back Cover Johnny Crowcuss
Japanese Cover (1st LP) Japanese Running Start 45
1979 CHED Edmonton Bicycle Picnic Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC