1971 / Collection of tracks from Canadian band 'Leigh Ashford' from the late 60's and 70's. This band later evolved into the well known Hardrock stars 'MOXY': Typical US rock with great guitar work, some country rock influences; extremely rar for Collection. ................
The group was formed in 1967 by, the guitarist Gord Waszek, drummer Dave Cairns, bassist Joe Agnello and keyboard player Newton Garwood. In 1968 a lead singer was added for more dynamics...Percussionist Vocalist Glenn Brown was recruited from another iconic Toronto band , A Passing Fancy ...During his stint in the band Leigh Ashford opened for the bands The Foundations and The Who at the Rockpile in 1969....Glenn was also there for the successful audition with Jack Richardson but left the band for personal reasons before the recordings....Glenn was co-writer for Country Place... ., record producer Jack Richardson took the band to New York to record. A single "Country Place" was released on the Nimbus 9 label, but the album itself was never issued. The band kept busy in the clubs in Toronto until 1970. At this time Garwood was replaced by keyboardist Bruno Weckerle, Craig Kaleal (of The Witness) became the permanent drummer and a new vocalist Buzz Shearman was added. The band was invited to appear at three day long, Strawberry Fields Festival, in August 1970. In 1971, they recorded their debut album called Kinfolk in the RCA studios in Toronto. Things were looking good for the band with a US tour. In addition, the album's first single, "Dickens", began gaining attention of US radio stations. However creative differences due to member turn-over rate was breaking the band up. It fell to singer Buzz Shearman to pick up the pieces and soldier on in 1972, when founding members Gord Waszek joining Fludd and Joe Agnello joining Grant Smith & The Power. Wally Cameron and Doni Underhill also decided to leave in 1974, with Underhill also joining Fludd. Shearman recruited Earl Johnson (guitar, and former member of the King Biscuit Boy band), Kim Fraser, then Terry Juric (bass guitar) and Bill Wade (drums), the latter being former members of Outlaw Music. This group ultimately evolved with a harder sound into the hit recording act Moxy in late 1974...............
Leigh Ashford founders Waszek and Agnello knew each other as members of G.W. And The Demons at Riverdale High School in Toronto along with drummer Don Nolan and vocalist Allen Ashby. Waszek was well known around the area as a great guitarist and would teach a young kid named Hughie Leggat (Lords of London/A Foot In Coldwater) how to play.
Fresh out of high school Agnello joined The Ambassadors and Waszek joined the Lee Ashford Blues Band. When the Lee Ashford Blues Band folded Waszek and keyboardist Newton Garwood joined Agnello and new drummer David Cairns (Tom And Ian And The Soul Set) as sidemen for The Spirit Revue.
By early 1967 the four had grown tired of the suits and the restricting etiquette of the Spirit Revue and revived the name Lee Ashford as Leigh Ashford complete with a fictitious biography that painted Ashford as a turn of the century prostitute.
After playing around the growing Toronto rock scene for two years Guess Who producer Jack Richardson signed the act to his own Nimbus Records.
Studio session were initiated for an album but collapsed when Cairns took ill. He was replaced in the studio for the bed-tracks by Wally Cameron (A Passing Fancy) and one useable track resulted in the long forgotten single "Country Place".
An attempt to get Cairns back on track faltered and Lance Wright (Terry & The Pyrates) filled in on drums until permanent replacement, Craig Kaleal, (Witness Inc.) was enlisted. A new vocalist, Buzz Shearman (Shearman & Peabody), was brought in to give the act a harder edge.
In 1969 the band opened for the Vanilla Fudge at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto and later on that year, for the Who at the Rockpile in Toronto.
With a release from their Nimbus deal, the band kept busy in the clubs, and occasional studio work, and as 1970 wore on, Garwood was replaced by Bruno Weckerle on keyboards.
n 1971, Mort Ross' Revolver Records picked up the band and took them into the RCA Studio in Toronto to produce the 'Kinfolk' album.
The album's first single, "Dickens", began gaining attention and upon returning to Canada they performed at the Strawberry Fields Festival in Mosport, Ontario. But, typical creative differences broke the band up by 1972.
Waszek continued to work for Mort Ross and Revolver Records as Ross' cash cow, Motherlode, was refit for a third incarnation headed by Waszek and featuring ex-Chimo! vocalist Breen LeBoeuf, future Triumph bassist Mike Levine and former Leigh Ashford bandmates Wally Cameron and Newton Garwood.
After one failed Motherlode single, Waszek revived Leigh Ashford with Buzz Shearman, Cameron, Garwood and bassist Don Elliott (ex-Mandala).
Mort Ross had another subsidiary label on the go, Hopi, and grabbed Leigh Ashford for one under-achieving single of Waszek originals - "Workin' All Day" b/w "The Country's Got A Soul Of Its Own". With the departure of Elliott (with Doni Underhill taking over), the Leigh Ashford name was retired and they became Burgundy before, it too failed to chart a single.
At this point Waszek and Underhill decided to jump ship for the more affluent Fludd in 1974.
Buzz Shearman kept the band and its name going for another two years before finally evolving into the hit recording act Moxy and helping future metal chanteuse Lee Aaron launch her solo career. Shearman would die tragically in a motorcycle accident in the early '80's; Agnello continued on as bassist for many showcase R & B acts around Toronto including Chuck Jackson; Underhill would eventually leave Fludd to reform the band Fingers with Waszek before moving on to stint with Trooper; Elliott went on to be an audio technician and cameraman; Waszek, meanwhile, did session work with the likes of Triumph (on "Just A Game") and would spend a good part of the late '80's with Bobby Dupont and in the '90's as alternate lead guitar with Eagles tribute band Desperado which featured former members of Refugee. He is now a fully retired postal worker living in the USA.
Bruce Weckerle died July 10, 2004 of complications from a stroke in 2003; Newton Garwood, who had worked for years at Long & McQuade music store's head office in Toronto, died of cancer November 4, 2005. Canoe Canadian Pop Engyclopedia.....
Tracks: 01. Dickens (G. Waszek/B. Sherman) - 2:51 02. Mighty Fine Cookin' (G. Waszek) - 3:25 03. Never Give Myself (G. Waszek) - 4:37 04. Juicy Lucy (G. Waszek) - 3:35 05. County Country (G. Waszek/B. Sherman) - 3:28 06. Good Day (G. Waszek/B. Sherman/J. Agnello/C. Kaleal/B. Weckerie) - 4:05 07. Lee Oompa Kum Pah Pah (G. Waszek/B. Sherman/J. Agnello) - 3:18 08. Lady (G. Waszek/B. Sherman/) - 4:51 09. Sicawine Part 1 & 2 (G. Waszek/B. Sherman/B. Weckerie/J. Agnello) - 10:32
Singles 1970 Country Place (Nimbus/RCA) 75-1026 1971 Dickens/Lee Oompa Kum Pah Pah (Revolver) REVS-010 1971 Dickens/Lee Oompa Kum Pah Pah (Revolver/RCA/Victor) 75-1040 1971 Never Give Myself/Country Country (Revolver/RCA/Victor) 75-1054 1971 Good Day/Never Give Myself (Revolver/RCA - US) 74-0526 1972 Workin' All Day/The Country's Got A Soul All Its Own (Hopi) PI-1001