Audiomaster started off as Audiomaster Electric and our compliment at the time was:
Bob Read: Bass, Doug Bowes: Guitar, Tony Desmarteau: Guitar and Rick Gratton: Drums
We weren’t happy as a foursome as we really needed a keyboard player. Doug and I went out and stole a keyboard player, John Lang, from one of the better bands in town, Breathless. We needed him and he was great but there was still something missing.
One day this guy shows up on our doorstep asking if we had a room to rent. Well, I asked him if he played any instruments and he said yes he was a percussionist. Well that cinched it, we had a room for him and a place in the band for “Wild Man” Wade Barker.
The band needed some publicity shots so we went to Woolworths and shot these:
The band played everything from Chick Corea to Edgar Winter. We were billed, though, as a Jazz Fusion band
We played all over Ontario and parts of Quebec. In Ontario we did well but in Quebec we were loved. This all came home at one gig we had in a Granby, Quebec Catholic High School dance. We were set on a stage that was quite high in an old wooden (but lovely) building. When the students all came out (at the same time – which was pretty odd in itself) all of the girls got to one side of the room and all the boys on the other. Being the set maker in the band I was confused as to why these folks hired us.
I turned around to the band and said they hired us, what the heck, start with Birds of Fire, a John Mclaughlin song set in 9/8 which isn’t something anyone would naturally dance to, To our surprise the whole floor erupted with the kids rushing to the center of the floor and dancing like there was no tomorrow. It was fantastic.
We managed, with the help of our wonderful manager David (Blue) Bluestein, to get two different opening gigs at the premiere concert hall in Toronto, Massey Hall.
We opened for Electric Light Orchestra from England and PFM from Italy. Here’s Wade as he appeared on stage at Massey Hall.
…and here we are at Club L’Araignee in Montreal
There were three songs writers in the band (I hadn’t stared writing yet….slow starter) and we recorded 12 original songs from the band, including a cover below:
We did a second across Canada tour before Rick (our drummer) decided he’d had enough. He went on to teach drumming successfully for many years.
So we went hunting for a replacement and in checking we ended up with two more great musicians Jim Norman on drums and Jim Heineman on sax.
Feeling I was being left behind in the songwriting category I came up with the following two songs “Poor Boy” and “Sophies Colour Cup” These were recorded with the new band at a club in Guelph Ontario. I kind of like both of them after all these years So here they are:
We broke up and there was another version of Audiomaster that hung together for year but That was the end of that era.
After Audiomaster I took a break and backpacked for six months through parts of South America…a great trip I might add….
Returning to Toronto I tried out with a band that I found out after a couple of weeks were heavy in to Scientology….so that didn’t work.
The only option was to form another band…the iconic