That image in the top left hand
corner is not a sketch. It was created
by Richard Gwizdak, the bass player from
Vance's old band, The Fifth.
Richard became a professional photographer
after leaving the music industry, and this was
one of the techniques he was experimenting
with in the 70s. Richard explains the
process: ”It was originally a photo then
I used pencils to draw on the picture then
used a photo bleach to wipe out most of the
photo behind. It was a neat technique
'back then' but nobody has darkrooms or
enlargers anymore so a lost 'neat
technique'." It's called photo etching
and dates back at least to the 1950s.
Papa Pluto … aka St.
Silver and Bubbles. This band, which first
saw the light of day in early 1973, had many
personnel changes throughout its lifespan.
It technically morphed out of So Fine, the band
Vance joined following his departure from Dianne
Heatherington and the Merry-Go-Round.
So Fine had Chris
Anderson (guitar), Randy Hanker (bass), Vance
Masters (drums) and Fred Redekop (piano).
Chris had been in an earlier version of
Merry-Go-Round, Randy was with Good Fortune, and
Fred had just left Red Ryder. The four
musicians came together as the band behind
Aileen Murphy, one of the three sisters formerly
fronting Sugar & Spice. At the time
Vance joined, he had already been in discussions
with Alan Schick to play on Alan's upcoming
recording session in Los Angeles. And this
is where things get rather confusing as the
bands begin to overlap, with Vance technically
playing in three all at once.
So Fine was working dates
in Winnipeg and out west. The backing band
for Alan was Duncan Wilson (guitar), Melvyn
Ksionzek (bass), Fred Redekop (piano), and
Vance. They were going under the name of
St. Silver and began taking jobs towards the end
of 1972 on weeks when So Fine wasn't
working. As Alan began to receive more and
more confirmed dates, Vance, Fred, and Melvyn
weren't as readily available for the So Fine
shows. So Fine played their last job on
May 26, 1973 at the Plaza Hotel in Winnipeg, MB.
St. Silver continued on
through all of '73 and into '74, replacing
Melvyn with Rick Shukster. And that formed
the nucleus for Papa Pluto - Duncan, Rick, Fred,
and Vance. When Kurt left The Guess Who in
1974, he began sitting in with St. Silver on the
jobs where they were not backing Alan. By
now, St. Silver was gaining a larger following
than Alan Schick, and it was time to change name
to establish the separation.
Bubbles was never really
a serious consideration. It came about in
the summer of 1974 when the group, between sets,
had been discussing what they should adopt as a
new name, and had not been able to come to an
agreement before the next set was ready to
start. When Kurt got on stage, he just
blurted out "We're The Bubbles". It stuck
for a couple of weeks before the band drifted
back to using the St. Silver name, formally
becoming Papa Pluto in early 1975.
during those 2 years, both Duncan and Vance
got their chauffeur's licenses and began
driving cab for Red Patch Taxi on weeks when
they weren't booked. But open weeks
were few and far between as the rotation in
Winnipeg bars took the band through the St.
Vital, the Windsorian, the Norlander, the
Plaza, the Marion, the Black Knight, the
Norvilla, the Pandora Inn, the City Centre,
the Westminster, and the Curtis. With
that many venues, it was relatively easy for
the top local draws to play continuously,
visiting each room about once every 3 or 4
months. They played 6 nights a week,
often held over for a second week.
Numerous rooms also required a Saturday
When this band was at its
height, there is no doubt that the group had
great potential. From Andy Mellen's weekly
History of some sort was made
Sept. 19 as a crowd of more than
1,700 people squeezed into the
Winnipeg Convention Centre for a
social. While that might
not seem so astonishing if the
attraction was a well-known
recording act, I was absolutely
knocked out considering that two
local hard rock bands, Papa
Pluto and Barrelhouse, managed
to succeed in drawing an
overflow crowd in a city not
know for supporting local
What was even
more impressive were the huge
lineups outside the hall.
By my estimation, more than
1,000 people were turned away
before the night was over,
indicating that crowd easily
could have exceeded 3,000 had
the facilities been available.
Free Press, September 27, 1975
Some impressive material
was written during this period and is still
fondly remembered by many who followed the band
faithfully from one club to the next. One
of those people - Ken Kublanski - connected with
Vance literally decades later at one of his
shows. Ken gave Vance a now treasured CD
containing material he had recorded
surreptitiously at the St. Vital Hotel and at
the Pandora Hotel. Ken's account of those
times is HERE.
Fred Redekop had left
the group in June 1975. Kurt was
replaced by Dave Inglis in September
1975. George Belanger took over lead
vocals from December 1975 to October 1976 when
he departed for a job with Harlequin.
Vance was hired to play with The Jim Kale
Show. And with that, the original Papa
Pluto folded in November 1976.
Final lineup of Papa Pluto
before disbanding in November 1976
L-R Back Row:
George Belanger, Dave Inglis
L-R Front Row:
Rick Shukster, Duncan Wilson, Vance
Richard Gwizdak, using the same
technique as in the picture on the
top left of this page.
Brother was not
the only band of Vance's whose music made it
into The Guess Who catalogue. The Guess
Who recorded Vancouver for the
1978 Guess Who's Back album, along withNova
Scotia, which with a quick re-write
of the lyrics, became Sweet Young Thing.
Then there's Cadillac
and Wine, Women, and Cocaine,
subsequently recorded by Les Pucks.
The story behind Cadillac
… one of Kurt's first purchases after
he joined The Guess Who was a white Cadillac
Eldorado. While playing with St.
Silver/Papa Pluto, a friend of his borrowed the
vehicle, but "forgot' to return it at the
appointed time. It became a bit of a joke,
hence the lines "I've got your Cadillac, You'll
never get it back", which of course wasn't the
case, but that didn't stop Kurt and the others
from chiding the errant driver repeatedly over a
rather lengthy period of time. They
forever formalized the joyride in song.
The lyrics to Cadillac
were re-written several times, with at least 3
different versions dependent upon the band
configuration. The very first rendering
I've got a Cadillac,
always on my back
included extra verses that were eventually cut
from the final version. Short clip of a
live version with the original lyrics.
Duncan later resurrected
the Papa Pluto name in 1977 with Jim Creasey
(guitar), Randy Booth (bass) and Bob Brett
(drums), eventually changing the name to just
Pluto, and then finally Les Pucks.
September 27,1975 Photo credit:
from the Winnipeg Tribune,
September 27, 1975 article
in which the above photo appeared.
Full article HERE.
at the rehearsal studio on
Scotland Avenue, Winnipeg, MB
at the rehearsal studio
Wilson and Rick Shukster
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