1971-1972 Merry-Go-Round LineUp
Vance Masters
DIANNE
HEATHERINGTON & MERRY-GO-ROUND

BIOGRAPHY MUSIC GALLERY CONTACT VISITOR COMMENTS

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THE EARLY YEARS

THE CRESCENDOS

THE FIFTH

BROTHER

DIANNE HEATHERINGTON & THE MERRY-GO-ROUND

ALAN SCHICK

PAPA PLUTO

BURTON CUMMINGS

THE GUESS WHO

YOGI & FRIENDS

THE WALSH TWINS

GUNS 4 HIRE

FREELANCE WORK
The image in the upper left hand corner is the final lineup of Dianne Heatherington and The Merry-Go-Round, 20 years after their last performance. Photo credit:  Hermann Frühm

In 1970, Dianne Heatherington was signed by producer Rob Cantor to do a 13 week local CBC television show, but she quit after only 6 weeks due to the direction the production was taking.  Merry-Go-Round at that time consisted of Rob Langdon  (guitar), Melvyn Ksionzek (bass), Hermann Frühm (piano), and Steve Banman (drums).  According to Dianne, "It wasn't going the way I wanted.  They didn't want to use my band and I really felt like a part of that unit then."  So ended the first CBC event.

By May 1971, the line up had changed to Dianne Heatherington (vocals), Rob Langdon (guitar), Herman Frühm (keyboards), Melvyn Ksionzek (bass), and Vance Masters (drums).  Merry-Go-Round had become well-known for their polished shows and the exceptional proficiency of each individual member.  Their play list was a diverse collection of songs ranging from top 40 to Frank Zappa to their own original works, and several Brother tunes. 

And CBC came calling again, this time for a one-hour, 11 episode, coast-to-coast musical variety show.  For three weeks in the summer of 1971, the band rehearsed Monday through Wednesday in the CBC studios on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, while still playing the local club circuit in the evenings.  The first 6 shows were videotaped on June 3rd and 4th before a live audience.  It ran from July 5th through to September 13th, 1971.

Late fall found the band back on the road, this time in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan playing a room called the Top Of The Inn.  Rob Langdon had been replaced by Duncan Wilson on guitar, and Melvyn Ksionzek had moved into the sound tech role.  Bill Wallace stepped in on bass.

By chance, Kenny Rogers was also in town for a one-nighter.  He and his entourage showed up at the club after their performance and caught the final set of Dianne Heatherington and the Merry-Go-Round.  Impressed by the musicians’ abilities and original material, he approached the band to offer them an appearance on his TV show, Rollin' On the River, in addition to a record deal.  Arrangements were made to meet Kenny in Las Vegas, and to then travel together to Los Angeles to record the album, with all expenses being covered by Mr. Rogers.

The band set out on the 1800-mile journey from Winnipeg to Las Vegas in the middle of winter.  For those who have never travelled the ice-covered roads of the northwest, there are no words that can accurately reflect the bleakness on many of North America’s highways in the dead of winter.  The trek took the band through the frigid state of North Dakota and into Montana.  Bill Wallace was behind the wheel of the Volkswagen car, with Dianne in the passenger seat and Vance asleep in the back.  The rest of the group was travelling in a van, a couple of miles ahead.  Just outside of Billings, Montana, the tiny Volkswagen hit a patch of black ice and skidded mercilessly out of control.  Rolling end over end several times, it finally came to rest on its roof, in the middle of a farmer’s field.  The windshield had popped out sometime during the roll and snow melted into the compartment and on the occupants.  The temperature was so cold outside that it froze on their faces instantly.  Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt, and the three trudged several hundred yards back to the highway to flag down help, which arrived some time later in the form of a semi-trailer.  By this point, all three were inconceivably chilled and all Vance could think of was, “Thank God - some heat!”  The trucker pulled over and everyone climbed in for a lift to the closest town.  The first words out of the trucker’s mouth were … “Sorry for the cold - my heater’s not working.”  An ominous start to what was supposed to be their “big break”.

The Merry-Go-Round eventually made it into Los Angeles and spent 2 weeks in January 1972 laying down tracks for half of the album.  They returned to Winnipeg to finish off some scheduled dates, and while at home, received the recording contracts from Kenny Rogers' management team.  Dianne concluded it was not in her best interests, or that of her band, to accept the offer for several reasons, not the least of which was the distribution of royalties that was skewed heavily in favour of Rogers.  As a result, the songs listed below from these sessions are just the rough mix - the final mix was never completed.

For the next 6 months, the band continued to tour from Thunder Bay to Alberta, playing 6 nights a week.  Several events occurred in the months following the Rogers episode that caused the band to fold in mid-1972.  Bill Wallace was offered a position in The Guess Who right around the time that Dianne severely damaged her vocal chords.  She was forced to rest for just over a year before returning with another band in 1973, the short-lived Sunny Lemmatina.  By 1975, she had transitioned to an entirely different style, choosing to work with a solo piano player instead of a full band.

Ultimately, Dianne made the decision to relocate to Toronto, eventually pursuing an acting career in live theater.  She later moved on to films with roles in Tom Cruise’s hit, Cocktail, and The Liberace Story.  Until her death from ovarian cancer in 1998, she also headed up her own corporation - the Dianne Heatherington Security Company.  The business became highly successful, providing
24-hour location security to major budget films and television series filmed in and around Toronto.

Vance and Duncan continued to play together, creating an informal partnership that would endure for the next 5 years until Vance, too, joined The Guess Who, in the post-Cummings incarnation.
Dianne
                                Heatherington 1973
Dianne Heatherington 1973


Newspaper Headline June 12, 1971
Headline from the Winnipeg Tribune,
for Dianne's TV show.
June 12, 1971. Full article HERE.



Dianne
                                Heatherington 1977
1977
Toronto Star Photograph Archive,
Courtesy of Toronto Public Library


Dianne
                                Heatherington 1980
1980
Toronto Star Photograph Archive,
Courtesy of Toronto Public Library



DIANNE HEATHERINGTON & THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MUSIC LIBRARY

IMPORTANT:  Please stop one audio recording before starting another
or you will have both playing at the same time.



Three songs from the Kenny Rogers sessions

One of the tunes recorded at the Rogers' session was actually another Brother piece titled Long Time Coming.  There is an air vent, or percussion, hole on drums, whose normal function is to release pressure.  Vance had only one rack tom on his Ludwigs and to achieve a change in tone while he was playing, Melvyn Ksionzek blew into the air hole, causing the tone to shift up and then back down when he stopped.  Listen for it at the 0:30, 1:20, and 2:10 marks.  Bill Wallace plays the French horn on this cut.

WINDING ROAD

LONG TIME COMING


SPECIAL EVENTS DAY




A few pieces from some of the Merry-Go-Round's live shows.  Recorded at the Fountain of Trevi, the St. Vital Hotel, and other venues throughout Winnipeg.

Dianne Heatherington, Hermann Frühm, Duncan Wilson, Bill Wallace, and Vance Masters
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SITTIN' HERE LOVIN' YOU



Brother composition - Millie Was A Sweet Dried Plum -  made its way into the Merry-Go-Round collection.
MILLIE WAS A SWEET DRIED PLUM


And this Brother song - Dolly's Bagpipe Band - was also a regular part of their show, with Vance playing kazoo.
DOLLY'S BAGPIPE BAND



Often called Winnipeg's Janis Joplin, Dianne's cover of Me and Bobby McGee was a frequent audience request.
ME & BOBBY McGEE



Frank Zappa wasn't your typical pub fare, but this verson of Tears Began to Fall was a real crowd pleaser.
TEARS BEGAN TO FALL

And lastly, what many considered to be Dianne's signature song, McArthur's Park
McARTHUR'S PARK




VJM
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