Proudly Canadian: Goddo
Story Credit: Jaimie Vernon/The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia
Following a successful rock star lifestyle with Canadian Glam Rock outfit Fludd, bassist Greg Godovitz left the fold in frustration as the songwriting opportunities for him dwindled. Utilizing a team of musical cohorts from Fludd’s camp, he assembled an ad hoc studio act dubbed Goddo; and released a cover version of "Louie Louie" through A & M Records of Canada in 1975. To promote the song, which managed to stir up a bit of airplay nationally, Godovitz needed a working band to secure gigs, and a paycheck, in the Ontario bar scene.
Enter former Brutus guitarist Gino Scarpelli and former Truck drummer Marty Morin in late 1975. The band made the rounds touring every dingy pub, dive, strip club and high school in Ontario and Quebec with occasional forays into the US and Western Canada as a means of perfecting their stage show and performance chops. There was also the matter of becoming a big act in a little pond. Soon they were the working-man’s power trio; a sonic three-man wrecking crew to be reckoned with through a steady diet of bar circuit gigs over the next two years before finally attracting the attention of Polydor Records who signed the group via a deal with independent production company Fat Cat Records.
Exit Marty Morin (who left for the more secure environment of bus driving), enter Doug Inglis on drums. They released their self-titled debut in 1977. Songs like the Santana-esque "Under My Hat" began to set the stage for Goddo's place on Rock radio.
With true Greg Godovitz bravado, the follow-up album in 1978 was bolder, brasher and sported an attention grabbing title: 'If Indeed It's Lonely At The Top...WHO CARES...It's Lonely At The Bottom Too!’ The songs even reflected a rather barbed view of the Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle, and the music industry in general, with tracks like "Cock On" (a song about the censored front cover of the Fludd album of the same name), "Carole (Kiss My Whip)" about Rough Trade dominatrix Carole Pope, and "Drop Dead (That's Who)". But “Sweet Thing” became the radio staple – forever cementing the band’s misogynistic bent and giving their hometown of Scarborough, Ontario an anthem.
Goddo soon found itself having more clout. Polydor gave them more money and so, the band retired to Florida to work in the studio that made the Bee Gees famous. The result was a truly diverse third album featuring thoughtfully orchestrated ballads and Goddo’s trademark balls-to-the-strip-malls kick-ass rock. 'An Act Of Goddo' was born and the band’s first, and only, ballad – “Chantal” – put the group back on the air in Canada. An appearance on CITY-TV’s “Chum-City Simulcast’ (the first act ever to do so), made them household names.
But as has been well documented in Godovit’z autobiography, ‘Travels With My Amp’, the group didn’t quite rise to the next level at a time when their critical and commercial success was peaking. After finding themselves with little promo on the back of a Western tour of Canada, Godovitz decided to send the president of Polydor a rather scathing facsimile explaining his distaste for their lack of support. Polydor dropped them soon after.
Gino Scarpelli began working with acts on a compilation album being put together by Robert Charles Dunne’s El Mocambo Records called 'Toronto Calling'. Along with members of Moxy, Scarpelli appeared as part of a studio act called Bongo Fury (who would also release a full-length LP). The connection made a good temporary home for the Goddo charity single "Fortune In Men's Eyes", an ode to Godovitz's late Fludd musical partner Brian Pilling.
In 1980 Goddo finally found a home on Al Mair’s Attic Records label in exchange for the publishing rights to the first three Goddo albums (Greg would eventually retain the rights to the albums themselves) – who had previously championed the biggest hits for his previous band Fludd. In a ballsy move for both label and band, they decided not to record another studio album right away. Instead, they booked two nights at the Roxy Theatre in Barrie with a mobile recording truck, producer Bob Segarini, and a young comedian opening the show who the world would later know as the $20 million face of comedy – Jim Carrey.
The result was the well-received ‘best of’ album 'Lighve: Best Seat In The House'. Of course, the record contained a number of new tracks that the band polished in the studio the next year for their studio LP 'Pretty Bad Boys'. The lead-off track, “Pretty Bad Boy”, became a certified Top-40 hit and garnered the band a 1982 Juno Award nomination for 'Band Of The Year'.
The advanced paycheck Godovitz received for recording the album was used to finance a playboy-styled vacation to Egypt. By the time he returned to Canada, Attic needed the band to re-coupe its investment post-haste. A lengthy 1983 tour began, including a short stint with Uriah Heep in the United States. But Goddo soon collapsed under the weight of its own excesses and debt.
A five piece reconfiguration called GODO later emerged with Godovitz leading the brigade through the mid-80s. But it wasn't until he decided to capitalize on the group’s 15th anniversary did Goddo return for another kick at the can. By the end of the 1980's there was a resurgence in rock bands at the bar level again.
And so, BEI/Justin Entertainment released a 'best of' package in 1990 called '12 Gauge Goddo' to stir the pot of interest. With the critical re-evaluation of Goddo's historical place in the Canadian Rock pantheon, the band decided to fully reunite for 1992's' King Of Broken Hearts' which was co-produced and mixed by legendary Rush/Max Webster/Klaatu producer Terry Brown. The album spawned what would be the band’s only official music video – “Was It Something I Said?” – giving Goddo recognition across Canada on MuchMusic and, soon, overseas through a distribution deal with Germany’s Mausoleum Records.
However, the new recession, an explosion out of the Seattle music scene called Grunge, and the implosion of BEI/Justin left Goddo with nowhere to go but back to the mid-sized bars. An ego blow at best, but a revenue blow at worst. Goddo quietly shut down for a second time.
In 1994 Godovitz managed to wrangle his way into joining a group called Ground Zero who had been holding a Sunday night jam at Lee’s Palace in Toronto and so offered his services to them as a second guitarist under the new moniker The Carpet Frogs. It wasn’t long before they had a CD out called ‘Frog Curry’ released in Canada on Godovitz's own Nile Records and through Permanent Press Recordings out of Los Angeles.
However personal conflicts between Godovitz and the band led to his departure from The Carpet Frogs. Undaunted, Godovitz saw the value in a Carpet Frogs type British Invasion-styled revue. Enter old pal Bob Segarini, fresh off the collapse of Oak Ridges, Ontario super-group Cats & Dogs (Mach 1). With the addition of keyboardist Ron Christian, the trio billed themselves, mockingly, as The Greg Godovitz Orchestra & Chorus. The mostly acoustic, stripped down sound was perfect for intimate settings and it wasn’t long before they became a regular fixture at Blues On Belair in Yorkville.
Still, the need to make a living was essential and so with the year 2000 marking Goddo's 25th Anniversary, Godovitz plotted a massive tour backed by new label Bullseye Records who re-issued the band's first three Polydor releases and later that year a follow-up live album called '2nd Best Seat In The House'.
Godovitz would spend the following year mining the success of his autobiography - the aforementioned 'Travels With My Amp' - which gave Goddo even more exposure and success with large venue gigs and the re-issue of 1993's 'King Of Broken Hearts' CD. Simultaneously, Godovitz and Segarini took the 'Orchestra' to the next level, adding a rhythm section (including Goddo's Doug Inglis on drums) and calling the new British Invasion sounding incarnation The Anger Brothers. While in the studio to record a batch of original songs for their self-titled debut, Godovitz also recorded several new tracks for a Goddo comeback record.
The new studio album in 2004 was called 'Kings Of The Stoned Age' and spawned several radio singles including 'Rock Star'. Failing health eventually led to the replacement of original guitarist Scarpelli by Coney Hatch's Steve Shelski. To expand their sound and cover material from the new album they also added former Anger Brothers keyboard player Brad Lovatt.
In 2008 Goddo released a collection of live rarities on Bullseye called 'Under My Hat: Anthology Volume 1' and played their final gig at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse in March of that year before Godovitz moved to Calgary where he produced young, up and coming acts and is working on a new solo album.
Godovitz is currently involved in the revitalization of the El Mocambo, the legendary rock room where the Rolling Stones amongst other legendary artists performed in its heyday.
Sweet Thing Goddo
Greg Godovitz (vocals, bass)
Gino Scarpelli (guitar)
Marty Morin (drums)
Doug Inglis (drums; replaced Morin in 1977)
Brad Lovatt (keyboards; added 2005)
Steve Shelski (guitar; replaced Scarpelli in 2005)