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.
Five Man Electrical Band. 1969. Cap ST-165
Goodbyes and Butterflies. 1971. Poly 2424-020
Absolutely Right. 1971
Coming of Age. 1972. Poly 2424-047
Sweet Paradise. 1973. Lion LN-1009
The Power of the Five Man Electrical Band. 1974. Poly PD-6029
Absolutely Right: The Best of Five Man Electrical Band. 1995 Poly 314 523 331-2
LeBlanc, Larry. 'Dues are paid... bus fare now no problem,' The Music Scene, 265, May-Jun 1972
Stambler, Irwin. Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul (New York 1974)
York, Ritchie. Axes, Chops & Hot Licks (Edmonton 1971)
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
The website for the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, an organization dedicated to promoting Canadian popular music songwriters. Check out the annual list of inductees and click on a name to read an inductee’s biography. Also offers video highlights of previous award ceremonies.
Five Man Electrical Band
The website for the Five Man Electrical Band. Check out their biography and audio clips from their recordings.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...