and Duncan left The Merry-Go-Round and almost immediately went into rehearsals
with Alan Schick. Duncan had played with Alan in a 60’s band called
The Mongrels. Managed by Lorne Saifer, The Mongrels were a huge success
story, and the launching pad for Joey Gregorash. By 1972, Lorne had
landed a job as a record executive in Los Angeles. Lorne maintained
his ties with Winnipeg, and saw an opportunity to advance the career of
one of his old friends, offering Alan a recording contract with MCA.
At the time the offer came in, Alan was not actively performing and did
not have a band behind him. The fortuitous demise of the Merry-Go-Round
afforded Alan a solid nucleus upon which to build a new group for the sessions.
They added Melvyn Ksionzek (Vance’s band mate from The Fifth) on bass,
and Fred Redekop on piano.
In February 1973, Vance remarried,
this time to the girl he had met during his Brother days. As is so
often the case with musicians, the line between business and pleasure frequently
blurs, and their honeymoon was combined with the trip to Los Angeles for
Vance to record with Alan. For several members, it was their first
look at American freeways, and Melvyn was persuaded to be the driver for
any outings. He really didn’t have much of a choice … you had to
be 21 to rent a car in California, and of the six, Vance didn’t have a
license, his new wife Bev, was only 20, Fred was just weeks away from his
21st birthday, and Duncan was usually “under the influence”. Alan
was tied up most days with the business end of things. On one of
the band’s first site seeing excursions, Melvyn was heard to proclaim that
it was going to take two people to drive the vehicle - one to watch the
traffic, and the other to provide navigational clues.
The band spent two weeks
in Los Angeles finishing up the album amid daily reports of the casualties
attributed to a freeway sniper wreaking havoc in southern California.
They returned to Winnipeg to await its debut. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy was
the single picked for release in the summer of ’73. When it hit the
airwaves in Canada, the band went out on tour to promote the album.
Their first job was scheduled for Dryden, a pulp and paper community in
southern Ontario. The band pulled into town and the stench from the
mill was so over-powering that Alan immediately became ill and they had
to cancel the show.
Their next gig was in Saskatchewan,
and they fared no better at that one than they had in Dryden, but for a
different reason. Fred had taken up trying to learn how to juggle,
and on occasion, would start into his juggling act as a take-off on Elton
John. The owner of the club just plain didn’t like the music, but
he used Fred’s “extracurricular activity” as an excuse for firing the band
by loudly proclaiming, “I didn’t hire jugglers.” A sense of humour
is definitely an asset when you choose a career in the entertainment field.
They stayed together for
less than a year and when Kurt "retired" from The Guess Who, Vance, Duncan,
and Fred left to form a new group with Rick Shukster taking over the bass
lines and Kurt coming in as second guitar.