Proudly Canadian: Motherlode

Motherlode.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Motherlode was a Canadian pop rock group formed in 1969 in London, Ontario.

The group scored some notable success in the US with their single, "When I Die", which hit #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969 and an established hit on the Canadian charts.
William Smith and Steve Kennedy had been playing together with Eric Mercury and Dianne Brooks in a Toronto band called the Soul Searchers that Mercury and Brooks fronted as lead vocalists. After the Soul Searchers broke up, first Kennedy and then Smith joined a group called Grant Smith and the Power which also featured David Clayton Thomas.

Smith and Kennedy formed Motherlode in1969 and relocated to London, Ontario, where they struggled and stayed with friends. They finally got a break following their debut at the Image Club when Mort Ross signed them to Revolver Records that same year.

Their first single, "When I Die" that was produced by Doug Riley and Terry Brown did not make any headway on the radio. A reciprocal deal in the US with Buddah Records made the song a hit reaching Number 18 on the charts. The song sold more than 500,000 copies and it eventually climbed to Number 5 in the Canadian charts.[3] Brooks contributed a song "Memories of A Broken Promise" as well as some background vocals to Motherlode's When I Die album. Motherlode also contributed a song and instrumental backing on Brooks album, Another Kind Of Soul that was released on Revolver Records.

The group broke up in January 1970 and their second album, Tapped Out, was released posthumously only in the United States. Steve Kennedy, Ken Marco and Wayne Stone went on to be founding members of Dr. Music in Toronto, Canada.

As Revolver Records owned the name Motherlode, it decided to reform the group, keeping William Smith making this the second version of the group. They had Smith bring in three new musicians, Doug Richardson (saxophone), Anthony Shinault (guitar) and Philip Wilson (drums). This version of Motherlode, the second released one single in late in 1970, "I'm So Glad You're You (And Not Me)" / "Whipoorwill" (instrumental). Their new single flopped and the group quickly broke up.

Mort Ross, Revolver Record's president brought in Gord Waszek, of the rock group Leigh Ashford, to begin writing for the third version of Motherlode. They recorded "All That's Necessary", with Breen Leboeuf on vocals, Mike Levine on bass plus Gord Waszek and several other members of Leigh Ashford. The B-side of this single was "My Chant" which was just a renamed version of "Hiro Smothek" from 1970's Tapped Out. To promote this record, another version of Motherlode, the fourth was created with Mike Levine (bass), Wayne St. John (vocals), Kieran Overs (guitar) and two former members of Leigh Ashford, Wally Cameron (drums) and Newton Garwood (keyboards). Despite a major promotion push the record flopped and the band broke up.

By March 1971, a fifth version of Motherlode was created from the remnants of Natural Gas, a Montreal-based group. The members were Dave Berman (saxophone),Brian Dewhurst (drums), Gerry Legault (bass, vocals), Joey Roberts [Miquelon] (guitar) and Brian Wray (keyboards). They never managed to recording anything, and became Truck with the addition of Graham Lear.
The original Motherlode members reunited in 1976, and recorded a song "Happy People" but, because of issues surrounding the name Motherlode, it had to be released as a Kenny Marco solo release. In November 1989, they used the name Motherlode for a reunion during a week of live performances at the Bluenote club in Toronto. In 1990 they recorded eight new songs, but those sessions have remained unreleased.

Breen LeBoeuf eventually relocated to Montreal in 1978 to join Offenbach. He later recorded three solo albums and did a two year stint with Celine Dion as bassist/background vocalist, before joining Canadian rockers April Wine in January 2007, replacing Jim Clench on bass.

Kennedy later joined the Canadian band Lighthouse. He first performed with Lighthouse in 1982 at the One Fine Weekend Ontario Place reunion.

Smith became a session musician and played on and contributed background vocals to recordings by artists such as Eric Mercury on his Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil album, Mark Tanner on his No Escape album, and Rickie Lee Jones on her Flying Cowboys album. He also released a solo album Smitty, which included a song "Sweetie Pie" that he co-wrote with Eric Mercury. He died in 1997, aged 53, of a heart attack.

Newton Garwood left professional music in the mid-1970s, choosing instead to become a Toronto manager at Long & McQuade music instrument retailers. Garwood died of cancer in 2005.

When I Die Motherlode
https://youtu.be/qhv2JUkOqJc