Brothers-in-Law

Brothers-in-Law. Satirical singing group formed in 1963 in Windsor, Ont. Its name alluded to the vocations of its founding members - the banjoist Alec Somerville, the guitarists Howard Duffy and Larry Reaume, and the bassist Ken Clarke, all policemen.

Brothers-in-Law. Satirical singing group formed in 1963 in Windsor, Ont. Its name alluded to the vocations of its founding members - the banjoist Alec Somerville, the guitarists Howard Duffy and Larry Reaume, and the bassist Ken Clarke, all policemen. Clarke left the group in 1965 and was replaced by Bob Lee (a school teacher). Duffy left in 1966.

Inspired by the Kingston Trio, a US group popular at the time, the Brothers-in-law gave their first performance 22 Nov 1963 at a police banquet in Sandwich West (Windsor). Their popularity grew as Somerville began to write satirical lyrics to music by Duffy (and later Lee) or to traditional and classical melodies. The controversial nature of their songs' subject matter, which ranged from North American cultural and political institutions to sexual mores, limited the number of platforms available to the group.

The group's first and most successful LP, Oh! Oh! Canada (1965, Arc Sound 636), sold more than 100,000 copies and was followed by five others for Arc Sound, including The Brothers-In-Law Strike Again, Expose 67, and Total Lewdity. Despite their success the Brothers-in-Law maintained their jobs outside music and gave only 12 to 20 concerts each year, mostly in Ontario. The group dispersed in the early 1970s.


Further Reading

  • 'The Brothers-In-Law: Canada's court jesters,' CanComp, 12, Nov 1966

    Cobb, David. 'What's a nice cop like you doing in an act like this?' The Canadian, 21 Feb 1970