Proudly Canadian: Mashmakhan


Submitted by Sandy Graham

Members Pierre Senecal, Brian Edwards and Rayburn Blake first met in 1960 in Montreal. Their drummer did not show up one night for a gig, so Jerry Mercer was brought in and ended up joining the band. Edwards quit shortly thereafter, but the other three continued to perform on the local scene under names like the Phantoms, Ray Blake's Combo and the Dominoes.

By 1965 they were calling themselves The Triangle, and backing up local R&B singer Trevor Payne. They backed up Payne for four years until being discovered by record producer  Bob Hahn, who helped them get signed with Columbia Records in Toronto. Edwards rejoined the band and they changed their name to Mashmakhan, after a variety of hashish sold by a local dealer, to appeal to a modern audience.

Senecal's penned song "As the Years Go By" was released off their debut album in an edited form, and was the group's first hit; it sold 100,000 copies in Canada and 400,000 copies in the United States (on the Epic label). The band actually wrote the song as a novelty addition to their album, not expecting it to gain serious recognition. The single also sold 400,000 copies in Japan. This disc sold over one million copies globally, and received a gold disc.The two follow-up singles were "Gladwin" and "Days When We Are Free".

Mashmakhan As The Years Go ByMashmakhan As The Years Go ByIn 1971, Mashmakhan was one of two contributors to the musical score of the NFB film Epilogue/Fieve, which was directed by William Pettigrew. "Couldn't Find the Sun", written by Rayburn Blake for the movie, was included on Mashmakhan's 1971 album The Family. This album also did well in Japan, but the band realized little domestic success and split up shortly thereafter.

Blake joined the Lisa Hartt Band and also recorded some solo material, and Jerry Mercer joined April Wine. The original group was revived twice in the late 1970s by Aquarius Records with future April Wine members Brian Greenway and, later, Steve Lang.

Pierre Senecal, who left the band in the early 1970’s, resurfaced as a solo artist in 1979 with the song called ‘The Gypsy’ on Nova Scotia’s Black Bear Records. In 1983, Senecal recorded a solo album called ‘Voici Mon Amour’.

Mashmakhan later experienced significant renewed interest with the release of the film Festival Express, which featured colour film of the band performing two songs during the Festival Express concerts in Canada in 1970.