When I was a kid growing up in Winnipeg, I played in a few bands along with Burton Cummings of The Guess Who, Randy Bachman of BTO, and the legendary Neil Young. Although I did start out singing with a vocal group called Shayne and The Devines but not being much of a singer, I began recruiting some pretty good players like Pete Proskurnik, Gordy Duke, Rolly and Lawrence Blaquiere and we became The Rebel Raiders.(see below left)Then coming to the realization that our name sounded a little too southern for a northern band, we changed it to The Phantoms and added another great horn player, Jimmy Harrison. (see the Phantoms below middle) We sounded great, but because we partied too much, we picked up a bad reputation so we morphed into The Jury.
When we lost our singer Donny Burns to Toronto, (see below right) we decided to cut a demo decent enough to send to the dance promoters like J Robert Wood. Luckily two of CKY’s big Dee-Jays, Daryl ‘B’ and Chuck Dann offered to help but seeing as our new singer, Bruce Walker, was still a few more rehearsals away from being ready, we were only there to cut some instrumentals like “Not Guilty.”
While we waited for Chuck and Dayrl to set up, Terry and I helped Bruce finish up a song he was writing called “Until You Do.” Our plan was that if we had enough time, we’d tack it on the end of the session.
We’d gone into that session sounding like the Phantoms, but came out of it sounding like The Jury. The weird part about my recording career is that I can remember every detail of that recording session, but very little of those that followed. When Hal Ross of London Records heard, “Until You Do,” he said those memorable words that I’ll never forget, “Hell I’ll release that.” And just like that, we became London Recording artists.
However, the best part was the day a box of our new record showed up and before heading out of town for a gig, we dropped a few off at CKY. As we left the outskirts of Winnipeg behind and were listening to the radio, all of a sudden, Jimmy Darin played “Until You Do” and we almost blew the speakers out in the car.
When “Until You Do” started slipping down the charts, back into the studio we went and recorded my personal favorite, “I Tried To Tell Her.”
When we recorded “Back In My World” everything was changing, and before long, so would we.
When “Back In My World” fell off the charts we decided not only to change recording studios but record companies and also our look. When we recorded “Please Forget Her” in Minneapolis it became the #1 Canadian record in Canada which got us an American release on Port.
PLaying with The Jury was a wonderful experience which I shall never forget, but I turned out to be much better at radio than I ever was at being a musician. I was so busy doing radio that I never thought about my band days much, but when I got the call twenty years later that John Einarson, the author of the book “Shakin’ All Over,” was putting a sixties band reunion together, I must admit that I got very excited.
I hadn’t seen my bandmates since I left the band so I was looking forward to our own reunion at the 60’s reunion thing which was being held at the Winnipeg Convention Center. Not only was the event sold out, it was also being shown on TV. Hey when you’ve got Neil, Randy, and Burton on a stage together, TV is always there.
The whole night was mind boggling but what I’m happiest about is that every member of The Jury is still alive, although I must admit that our look has changed somewhat, as you can see in the pictures from the reunion below.
The story of making a #Record and playing with #NeilYoung, #RandyBachman, and #BurtonCummings at a reunion is written above. For a sneak peek at upcoming Blogs about other things, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter@GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.