Vance Masters
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Biography
Vance's interest in drums stemmed from his love of big band music.  AS A CHILD, he was influenced by the sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Louis Bellson emanating from the family radio.  A classically trained percussionist, Vance began his professional career in 1963 with THE CRESCENDOS, touring Britain and Europe.  Returning to Canada in 1966, he re-entered the local music scene with London Records recording artists, THE FIFTH.  It was in this band that Vance re-connected with Kurt Winter - a relationship that continued until Kurt's death in 1997.  The two would go on to form the short-lived, but now legendary, BROTHER in 1969 with Bill Wallace on bass.  Together, the trio wrote many songs recorded by The Guess Who.  The band was also responsible for organizing Manitoba's first pop festival, THE NIVERVILLE POP FESTIVAL.

By the late sixties, the excitement that had propelled the music industry up to that point had begun to subside.  In the early years, there was a level playing field, with most of the local musicians having roughly about the same potential.  Some went on to perfect their craft; others never improved upon their initial foray into the business.  And a career in music had become big business.  As with all other industries, only the strong survive, and the 70’s found many of those “community club bands” no longer able to compete in the new market.  The end of that heady era was fueled by several factors, including the advancing age of the original players, many of who now had families to support.  The audiences were becoming more sophisticated and demanded a much higher standard from their entertainers.  Another contributing cause was the lowering of the drinking age in Manitoba to 18.  That move opened a whole new avenue to bands, but it also effected the death of the community center dances, which for many years, had been the vetting ground for groups trying to break into music.  DIANNE HEATHERINGTON & THE MERRY-GO-ROUND was one of the bands that successfully made the transition and Vance joined the group early into 1971.  They were a staple on the club circuit, generating line-ups wherever they played.  The band also hosted its own variety show on CBC and under the direction of Kenny Rogers, recorded part of an album.

In 1973, Vance travelled to Los Angeles, once again, to record with ALAN SCHICK, releasing one album that received extensive airplay in Canada.  Following the break-up of the band, Vance went through a period where it seemed a new band was created every couple of months.  The music remained the same, but the players rotated in and out of the groups, and with each change, came a new name.  Kurt left The Guess Who in ’74 and jumped right into a new aggregation with Vance, calling themselves Bubbles, then Saint Silver, and eventually Papa Pluto.  Once again, the writing team of Winter and Masters was back together, and the band produced some outstanding originals, still fondly remembered and talked about today.  So complex were some of their arrangements that the band had a “screw-up trophy” awarded to the first player to make a mistake on any given night.  The unlucky recipient of the award had to keep it on his amp until the next error was executed and he could then unload the darn thing.

Burton Cummings left The Guess Who in the early 1970’s and in the summer of 1977, Vance joined him on the tour with Alice Cooper.  Vance performed with Burton until early winter when The Guess Who regrouped and Vance became the drummer for the new version of the band.  While THE GUESS WHO has had many personnel changes over the years, in their long history, they have only had 2 drummers -- Garry Peterson and Vance Masters. 

Throughout the 1980’s, Vance played with some of Winnipeg's longest running groups - The Trigger Brothers, Yogi and Friends, Twister - to name a few.  In 1992, he began a 10-year stint with the country-rock band, Guns 4 Hire.

Vance has been a major contributor to the local and international music scene as a performer and writer, having co-written #1 hits such as “Bus Rider” and “Hand Me Down World”.  Never one to rest on his laurels, the post-Guess Who years were some of the most satisfying and yet challenging times of Vance's career.  As someone who performs for the love of his craft, he makes no distinction as to whether he's playing before an audience of 500 or 50,000.  The pure satisfaction of working at a profession he truly enjoys is the motivation behind his music and what remains the same is the commitment to musical excellence.

After 6 decades in the industry, Vance has retired from the stage.

The Crescendos at Falcon Lake, Manitoba 1963Papa Pluto 1975The Guess Who 1978Guns 4 Hire 1998Vance Masters and Yogi Klos
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VJM
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