HEATHERINGTON & THE MERRY-GO-ROUND
THE GUESS WHO
THE WALSH TWINS
GUNS 4 HIRE
|LOCAL BOYS INVADED
LIVERPOOL, LIVED TO TELL TALE
Crescendos members catch up
with Badfinger rocker at city casino
By: John Einarson (photos
The following article originally
appeared in the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS on January 26, 2009
Rock 'n' roll
For two Winnipeg
musicians, the lyrics to Bob Seger's classic
rock anthem rang true last month at the Club
Regent casino. After 42 years, Glenn
MacRae and Vance Masters reunited with an old
mate from Liverpool who went on to live the rock
'n' roll fantasy.
In August 1965, Winnipeg
quartet The Crescendos -- MacRae, Masters, Terry
Loeb and Denis Penner -- dared to live the dream
of countless young musicians across North
America by pulling up stakes for the rock 'n'
roll mecca of Liverpool.
"We had seen the Beatles
movies and the Ferry Cross The Mersey movie and
figured that's where it was at," says
MacRae. Arriving by boat in the middle of
the night, the four excited young men cooled
their heels until the immigration office opened.
"We couldn't sleep, we
were so excited," he recalls. After
clearing customs, their first destination was
the most famous club in rock 'n' roll: The
Cavern, once home to The Beatles.
Crescendos soon began gigging on the club
circuit and were quickly accepted by Liverpool
"It was a real community
of players," says MacRae. "It was quite
remarkable how we were welcomed with open
arms. Whatever help they could give us,
Among the groups The
Crescendos befriended was a young outfit called
"Back in those days, they
would have several bands playing at gigs,"
MacRae recalls. "A band would do an hour,
then pack up and move on and another band would
play. We did some of those gigs with The
Masterminds, and that's how we met Joey
Molland. I remember Joey was enamoured
with Terry's Fender guitar and our Fender amps,
so he invited us over to his house for a jam the
Still in his teens,
Molland was making a name for himself on the
Liverpool circuit with The Masterminds.
"I can still picture Joey
onstage back then," remembers MacRae.
"There was a certain way British guitar players
played, more up picking than down picking, and
Joey typified that style. He was a very
confident player and had that ultra-Mod
look. The Masterminds were definitely a
cut above the rest of us."
Molland, in turn, was
impressed with the Winnipeggers.
"Oh sure I remember the
Crescendos," he said in a recent phone
interview. "They were a really good band
-- good vocals, as I recall. I remember
the singer, Glenn, and Vance was a fantastic
drummer. We used to see them at the Blue
Angel club all the time. We were like the
house band there and we played with The
Crescendos there several times."
Gordon, even became The Crescendos' road
In early 1966, The
Masterminds' lone single, a cover of Bob Dylan's
She Belongs To Me, failed to break the group
into the big time and they folded soon after.
"We'd done as many gigs as
we could to promote it, but in the end it
flopped," says Molland.
In February of that year,
Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, managers of The
Who, put the word out on the Liverpool streets
that they were recruiting for a new band to back
The Merseys in London. They plucked
Molland and two others from The Masterminds
along with Masters from The Crescendos.
"There was all this gossip
going around Liverpool that they were looking
for musicians with a certain look," recalls
Masters, "so Lambert approached me. I went to
London with Joey and some other guys."
Masters' tenure with the band, dubbed the Fruit
Eating Bears, was brief.
"We all lived in a hotel,
all in the same room, and rehearsed," recalls
Masters, "but I came back to The Crescendos
after a couple of weeks. And I'm glad I did."
stayed on for a year before joining Gary Leeds
& Rain. When that outfit folded, he
heard about a band called The Iveys, who had
been taken under The Beatles' wing. He
auditioned and joined the group. On the
advice of Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall,
The Iveys changed their name to Badfinger.
Through the early '70s
Badfinger scaled the rock 'n' roll heights,
recording hit singles that included Come And Get
It (written and produced by Paul McCartney), No
Matter What, Baby Blue and Day After Day, the
latter featuring George Harrison on
guitar. They toured the world and even
appeared at Harrison's star-studded 1971 Concert
Tragedy, however, struck
Badfinger after their business manager pocketed
all their advance, some $200,000. Frustrated and
broke, two members -- Pete Ham and Tommy Evans
-- ultimately took their own lives.
Molland found himself out of work in Los Angeles
before moving with his wife to Minneapolis to
rebuild his career. He has since toured
under the Badfinger name as the lone surviving
member. A protracted legal battle over
royalties with Apple Records was eventually
settled in the 1980s and Badfinger's album
catalogue has been reissued in recent years.
Back in Liverpool, The
Crescendos fulfilled their dream of playing The
Cavern on several occasions, but following the
failure of their single Hungry, produced by The
Searchers' Chris Curtis, they returned to
Winnipeg in early 1967 1.
(Following the Cavern gig, bass player Penner
was replaced by Liverpudlian Stuart
McKernan.) MacRae managed Long &
McQuade music store while Masters enjoyed a long
career drumming in bands like The Fifth, Brother
and a later version of the Guess Who.
With so many years and so
much water under the bridge, would Molland
remember his Winnipeg friends? No worries.
He had been looking forward to seeing MacRae and
Masters again after all those years, he said in
the phone interview.
Prior to taking the
stage, the two local musicians were ushered
backstage to an enthusiastic greeting from
Molland. And they sat front and centre for
"He hasn't changed a bit,"
pointed out MacRae as he watched Molland tear
through several Badfinger hits. "He
doesn't seem like the star he really is.
He's like the guy we used to know."
"It's a wonderful
surprise," Masters added. "He's such a
good guitar player and singer, and was back
Following his set,
Molland joined MacRae, Masters and their wives
for a two-hour stroll down memory lane as they
perused MacRae's scrapbook of photos and
"What was so surprising,"
marvelled MacRae afterwards, "was how much he
remembered about those old times -- the people
and places -- considering his career after
The three vowed to remain
"It's great to see these
guys again," said Molland. "That's one of
the things I really missed when I left Liverpool
... that community feeling. Back then, the bands
and musicians used to socialize together, hang
out together, talk about records, guitars, gigs,
whatever. And The Crescendos were part of that
whole scene with us."