Five Man Electrical Band | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Five Man Electrical Band

Five Man Electrical Band (the Staccatos 1963-9). Rock band formed in Ottawa as the Staccatos.

Five Man Electrical Band

Five Man Electrical Band (the Staccatos 1963-9). Rock band formed in Ottawa as the Staccatos. The band performed extensively in Ontario and Quebec, and released several singles 1965-8 under the Capitol label, including 'Small Town Girl,' 'Move to California,' 'Let's Run Away,' and 'Half-Past Midnight,' the last a substantial hit in Canada. In 1969 the band permanently changed their name to the Five Man Electrical Band, consisting of guitarists Vern Craig and Les Emmerson, keyboard player Ted Gerow, bass guitarist Brian Rading, and brothers Michael Bell (b Belanger) on drums and Rick Bell (guitarist).

In 1969, while in Los Angeles, the group recorded Five Man Electrical Band, the LP's title taken from an Emmerson song in their repertoire. Under their new name, Emmerson, Rading, Gerow and the Bells regrouped in Ottawa but returned to Los Angeles in 1970. Their first single for Capitol was 'It Never Rains on Maple Lane.' They quickly left Capitol and recorded many singles for MGM Records (released 1970-5 in Canada by PolyGram Group Canada), including "Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)," "Hello Melinda Goodbye," the million-seller 'Signs,' and the lesser hit 'Absolutely Right.' Other singles included 'I'm a Stranger Here' and 'Werewolf.' Emmerson and the Bell brothers in turn sang lead, and the group's vocal harmonies characterized its sound at its most popular. In 1971 the band signed with Lion Records and released the LP Goodbyes and Butterflies, but they returned to MGM in 1972 to release Coming of Age, Sweet Paradise, and the greatest-hits compilation The Power of the Five Man Electrical Band. The group appeared in concerts throughout North America and toured with bands such as the Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane and BTO. The group disbanded in 1975.

Emmerson (b Ottawa 17 Sep 1944), who wrote the Five Man Electrical Band's songs, also recorded on his own for Lion; the most popular of his releases 1972-5 was 'Control of Me.' With the band's demise he worked in Los Angeles studios, then returned in 1978 to Ottawa. There he appeared with the Emmerson Electrical Band and other groups in local clubs.

In 1986 the band performed a benefit concert that led to occasional tours, including performances at the 100th anniversary of Maxville, Ont, in 1992 and in Ottawa on Canada Day in 1997. A new recording of Emmerson's 'Signs' by the US group Tesla, from an album entitled Five Man Acoustical Jam, was a major hit in 1991. A 'best of' CD titled Absolutely Right: The Best of Five Man Electrical Band was issued in 1995.

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