Hedley is a Vancouver-based pop-punk band that launched to stardom in 2005 after lead singer Jacob Hoggard’s successful run on Canadian Idol. The winners of two Juno Awards from more than 30 nominations, they sold nearly 1 million albums and 4 million singles, and had a record 16 videos hit No. 1 on the MuchMusic Countdown chart. Deemed Canada’s “king of all-format airplay” by Billboard magazine in 2014, the band was blacklisted from Canadian radio and dropped by its management team in February 2018 following multiple allegations of sexual assault dating back to 2005. Hoggard was arrested and charged with sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault in July 2018.
The original incarnation of Hedley, formed in 2003, consisted of Jacob Hoggard, Ryan Federau, Kevin Giesbrecht, Kevin Heeres and Brandon McKay. They named themselves after the BC mining town of Hedley, which made news by offering itself for sale. After being challenged by his bandmates, Hoggard auditioned for the reality TV show Canadian Idol in June 2004. He went on to establish himself as a fan favourite with his energetic vocals and class clown persona, and ultimately placed third in the competition. The experience also spurred his interest in songwriting.
Shortly after Hoggard’s Canadian Idol experience, the original Hedley disbanded. Hoggard then met with guitarist Dave Rosin, bassist Thomas “Tommy Mac” MacDonald and drummer Chris Crippin, who were playing in the Vancouver metal band Everything After and were looking for a lead singer. The four men merged into the present-day Hedley and performed at the 2005 Canadian Music Week in Toronto, where they generated valuable exposure.
Debut Album and Tour
After signing with Universal Music Canada, the band recorded a demo with producer Brian Howes and then the debut album Hedley (2005). Certified double-platinum in Canada for sales over 200,000 copies, it was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award and helped earn Howes the Juno Award for Producer of the Year in 2007. The band’s first Canadian single, “On My Own,” was put into heavy rotation on MuchMusic and reached No. 1 on the Canadian singles chart.
Hedley’s pop-punk sound, which drew comparisons to Social Code and Simple Plan, features an exuberant youthfulness backing Hoggard’s strident vocals. The band toured with Canadian bands Faber Drive and The Weekend (not to be confused with The Weeknd), then with Simple Plan in late 2005. These tours — Hedley’s first experience playing arena concerts — introduced audiences to the band’s lewd pranks and frontman Hoggard’s frenetic, hyperactive stage presence.
In 2006, Hedley headlined their own club tour in Canada and appeared in the US with Yellowcard, Reliant K and Matchbook Romance. They also toured in Canada as the opening act for American rockers Bon Jovi, and gained further exposure performing with Nickelback, including at a 2007 Canada Day concert in Halifax.
Famous Last Words (2007)
Hedley’s second album, Famous Last Words, was released in October 2007 and was certified platinum in Canada. “For The Nights I Can’t Remember,” “Old School” and “Never Too Late” were all Top 10 hits in Canada. The band’s success to this point was largely driven by the tattooed Hoggard’s onstage energy and snarling vocal delivery, by the band’s approachable image and by their videos, which won four MuchMusic Video Awards in 2008.
At the end of 2008, Hedley ranked No. 2 on Nielsen’s year-end radio air-play chart. “For The Nights I Can’t Remember” earned three 2009 Canadian Radio Music Awards, and a 2009 SOCAN Pop Music Award for the band and co-writers David Genn (Matthew Good Band, 54-40) and Greig Nori (Treble Charger). The album was also their first US release.
The Show Must Go (2009) and Go With the Show (2010)
The band’s third album, The Show Must Go, was released in Canada in November 2009. Hoggard and Rosin took on more of the songwriting duties, and the album’s mix of electro-pop, piano ballads, reggae and rap sounds reflected the band’s new musical diversity. Another double-platinum hit, the album was ranked No. 17 on iTunes Canadian charts for 2010 and earned Hedley three more MuchMusic Video Awards. “Perfect” and the satirical “Cha-Ching” (the latter written by Howes) were both Top 10 singles in Canada, while the video for “Perfect” earned the band its first Juno Award.
Following their second national arena concert tour, which ventured into several major American centres including Chicago and San Francisco, the band followed up with the live album and DVD Go With the Show (2010). Other 2010 highlights included performing “Cha-Ching” at the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, and receiving a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award the next day for “Don’t Talk to Strangers.”
Hedley’s fourth studio album, Storms, released in November 2011, was built around the theme of persevering through adversity. It also saw the band leave its punk edge behind and move more solidly in a pop direction. Like the band’s previous efforts, it proved a best-seller, achieving platinum status and yielding several hit singles. “One Life” was certified a platinum digital download, while “Invincible” went double-platinum and earned a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award. “Kiss You Inside Out,” written by producer Adrian Newman, peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100 singles chart and was a certified triple-platinum digital download.
Storms won the Juno Award for Pop Album of the Year and its videos earned several MuchMusic Video Award nominations. Some reviewers felt the band was developing sophistication by moving away from pop-punk, while others characterized the change as mere commercialization. Hedley’s music seems to polarize opinion; while their fans are loyal and their Canadian concerts sell out, their act has been dismissed by some as sappy, grating, annoying and, in the words of London Free Press critic James Reaney, “buffoonery.”
In 2012, Hedley performed at a Canada Day event in Trafalgar Square in London, England, and at the London club Camden Barfly. Their touring also included several American cities. A tragic event occurred at the band’s 2012 Valentine’s Day concert in Dawson Creek, BC, when a 28-year-old man died after being assaulted.
Wild Life (2013)
On 27 August 2013, the lead single “Anything” was released in advance of Hedley’s fifth studio album, Wild Life. The song became a platinum digital download and the video went on to earn three 2014 MuchMusic Video awards. With its childishly stubborn refrain (“I can, I can, I can, so”), “Anything” was aimed unapologetically at youth, like many of the band’s songs. “Anything” and “Crazy for You” were both Top 10 singles, while other successful songs on the album included “Heaven in Our Headlights” and “Pocket Full of Dreams.”
Promotion for the album was further boosted by the band’s performance during the halftime show at the 101st Grey Cup in Regina. The band also held an innovative, speaker-less “quietest concert ever” in front of 850 fans in Banff National Park, where audience members were given headphones to which the concert was broadcast wirelessly.
In 2014, the band played large urban venues and small towns in nine provinces as part of its 35-city Wild Live Canadian tour. They also made further attempts to break into foreign markets, releasing “Anything” and Wild Life in the UK, and playing at London, England’s 100 Club, as well as one date each in France and Germany in May 2014. They also played New York City’s The Studio at Webster Hall and Los Angeles’ Sayers Club in January 2014.
Although Hedley did not achieve the popularity in foreign countries that they have enjoyed in Canada, they continued to dominate the pop landscape at home. “Anything,” and “Crazy for You” both reached the top spot on the MuchMusic Countdown chart, and the band performed for the fourth time at the 2014 MuchMusic Video Awards. Wild Life was certified platinum in Canada and reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Top Canadian Albums charts for 2014. Hedley was the only Canadian band to make Billboard’s list of the Top 25 artists of 2014 based on the chart performance of Hot 100 singles in Canada, ranking No. 4 overall. In March 2015, Hoggard hosted the Juno Awards ceremony, where Hedley performed for the fifth time in 10 years.
Hello (2015) and Cageless (2017)
Hedley’s sixth studio album, Hello, was released by Universal Music Canada in November 2015 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. The album yielded two Top 40 hits in Canada, “Hello” and “Lose Control,” and was certified platinum in Canada.
In March 2017, longtime drummer Chris Crippin left the band and was replaced by his drum tech, Jay Benison. “It got to a point where he wanted to do his own thing and he had our blessing, and we had a great 11, 12 years together and we wish him well,” Hoggard said in an interview with the Surrey Now-Leader.
The band’s seventh album, Cageless, was released in the fall of 2017 and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. The band set out on a cross-Canada tour on 6 February 2018.
Hedley had been actively involved in the Free the Children movement (now the WE Charity) since 2009, building schools in Kenya (2010), India (2011) and Ecuador (2014), and raising money for the charity. They also performed often at the organization’s annual WE Day, including in Seattle, Washington, in 2013 and at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in September 2014, before the organization cut ties with the band in February 2018. Hoggard also sang with Young Artists for Haiti on K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti in 2010.
Sexual Assault Allegations
On 12 February 2018, amid the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment that was sparked by charges of sexual assault against American film producer Harvey Weinstein, 21-year-old Manitoba resident Taylor Bowman alleged on Twitter that she had been groped by Jacob Hoggard outside a bar in 2015, when she was 18. Bowman called for others who had allegedly been assaulted by members of the band to share their stories. More than 50 people came forward on Twitter, most of them anonymously. People shared their stories under the hashtag #outHedley2k18 and began demanding that CARAS, the organizing body of the Juno Awards, cancel the band’s scheduled performance at the 2018 ceremony in Vancouver on 25 March.
On 14 February, CARAS announced that, “After careful consideration of the situation and in discussions with the band, CARAS and Hedley have decided that the band will not be performing at the 2018 JUNO Awards.” Hedley also issued a statement on the band’s Facebook page that said, in part, “The recent allegations against us posted on social media are simply unsubstantiated and have not been validated… [T]here was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés. However, there was always a line that we would never cross.” Hedley later announced that they had withdrawn from the three Juno Award categories in which they had been nominated, and that they planned to “talk about how we have let some people down, and what we intend to do about it.”
On 16 February, following reports that Hedley had allegedly been investigated in 2005 for an incident involving the drugging of an underage concertgoer after an all-ages show at the Embassy Hotel in London, Ontario, Hedley’s management teams at the Feldman Agency and Watchdog Management announced that they had severed ties with the group. Several other organizations, including Air Miles, the WE Charity and the Canadian Cancer Society announced that they would no longer be involved in events or promotions with the band, and numerous radio stations across the country stopped playing the band’s music. Hedley reported that they would continue as planned with their Canadian tour to promote Cageless, although several of their opening acts chose to drop out of the tour.
On 25 February, CBC News published an interview with a 24-year-old Ottawa woman who, after meeting Hoggard on Tinder and coming to his hotel room in the fall of 2016, alleged that he raped her and “ignored her when she cried ‘stop’ through tears.” Hoggard’s attorneys released a statement saying that, “At no time did Jacob act badly or do anything without consent.” The sex crimes unit of the Toronto Police Service confirmed on 16 March that it had begun investigating allegations against Hoggard.
Meanwhile, the hashtag #istandwithHedley trended on Twitter in support of Hoggard and the group. A petition calling on Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and CBC Radio “to lift the ban of this Canadian rock band's music on your radio stations” had received more than 1,900 signatures as of February 28. That same day, the band posted a statement on Twitter saying that they would be taking “an indefinite hiatus” following the completion of their Cageless tour on 22 March 2018.
Sexual Assault Charges
On 23 July 2018, Hoggard was arrested by Toronto Police and charged with two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference (the touching for a sexual purpose of someone under the age of 16). The assault charges were related to three separate incidents involving two women, and are alleged to have occurred in 2016. The police also issued a news release saying they "are concerned there may be other victims."
- Video of the Year (“Perfect”) (2011)
- Pop Album of the Year (Storms) (2012)
MuchMusic Video Awards
- Best Video (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2008)
- Best Director (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2008)
- Best Cinematography (“She’s So Sorry”) (2008)
- Best Rock Video (“She’s So Sorry”) (2008)
- Video of the Year (“Perfect”) (2010)
- Pop Video of the Year (“Cha-Ching”) (2010)
- Post-Production of the Year (“Perfect”) (2010)
- Pop Video of the Year (“Anything”) (2014)
- Your Fave Video (“Anything”) (2014)
- Video of the Year (“Anything”) (2014)
- Pop Music Award (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2009)
- No. 1 Song Award (“Don’t Talk to Strangers”) (2010)
- No. 1 Song Award (“Invincible”) (2011)
- Most Played Song Award (“Perfect”) (2011)
- Pop/Rock Award (“Perfect”) (2011)
- No. 1 Song Award (“Anything”) (2014)
- No. 1 Song Award (“Crazy for You”) (2014)
Canadian Radio Music Awards
- Song of the Year (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2009)
- Chart Topper (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2009)
- Fan’s Choice Award (“For the Nights I Can’t Remember”) (2009)
- Chart Topper Award (2011)