T R O Y K A
My story starts in London, England where I was born. We had a piano and my parents arranged for lessons for me. I have memories of playing in front of stern looking examiners at the Royal Conservatory.
We moved to a small town in Alberta, Canada when I was eight - I remember becoming aware of Elvis, and thinking he was pretty cool. We moved to Edmonton when I was ten. I continued with piano lessons. Most of the music I was playing was classical. I told my parents I wanted to play rock & roll - but they kept me playing classical (which I liked well enough).
When I was sixteen I became aware of the Beatles before they were known in North America (I had a subscription to an English youth magazine, which had photos and articles when they first broke in England). I remember going to a music store in Edmonton and listening to an early recording of theirs, before they had a major record release over here. They literally blew my mind. I thought it was the greatest thing Id ever heard. (Early Elvis was great - but this was life changing for me). Up til then my only ambition was to be a tug boat captain (right - in Edmonton). I was enrolled in pre-med at U of A - but now I wanted to be a rock star. It seemed like an interesting occupation.
My first band was The Rock Creatures - which was me, a friend Id known from high school, his brother, and a friend of his brother. Right away I was into writing original songs. This was sometime in 1964. I had bought a guitar and amp, and learned some chords. I guess this group didn't last very long because in early 1965, I wanted to get another group together. My Dad and I had seen a concert at the Edmonton Gardens featuring Gerry and The Pacemakers, and Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. The opening act was a local group called The Strangers. Some time later The Strangers were playing at a small club on Jasper Avenue. I went to see them and met their drummer. I told him I wanted to form a group that played original material and make it big. He said he had two friends who played bass and guitar. We arranged to get together at my house - and The Royal Family was born - Larry on drums, Ron on bass, Bob on lead guitar, and me on guitar and vocals. Our first public gig was at the Muk-Luk Mardi Gras in February of 1965. We wrote a lot of original songs. We signed a deal with Apex Records and released two singles - I Told a Lie/Don't You Even Want To Know and Sometimes/Solitude. My Dad was our manager. We headlined at the Hullaballo-A-Go-Go at the Jubilee Auditorium. One of our most popular live songs was Red Jeans - which our fans picked up on. At our gigs most of the girls would wear red jeans and Royal Family T-shirts - it was pretty cool. One of my favourite memories was our open rehearsals in my parents basement. Every night in the summer when school was out we'd practice - and anywhere up to 100 kids or so would jam into our basement and listen to us. It was a lot of fun.
In Fall of 1966, we decided we would have to leave Edmonton and go back east if we were going to hit the big time. We had our eye on getting a major U.S. label deal. We based in Montreal - played at Expo 67 at the Garden of Stars venue. We spent considerable time in New York. We recorded with Teddy Randazzo in New York. I met the Beatles American manager and other major people in the music business - but things didn't work out for us, and we went back to Edmonton at the end of 1967. Sometime in late summer of 1967, we became a three piece group - Ron, Bob and me. After we went through various drummer situations - I decided I'd play drums and Troyka was born.
In 1968, we wrote and recoded in demo version a considerable amount of new material. My Dad and I took this material to New York in Fall of 1968 and made the rounds - we got a lot of positive response but no signed deal. So we decided to put together a professional caliber recording studio in Edmonton and make our own masters. My Dad was the driving force behind the studio - he pretty much put it together himself - he would get up early in the morning and work on wiring, etc. before he went to his office.
In 1969, we started recording - a lot of the material became the Troyka album. We sent a tape with Natural on it to Atlantic Records - but didn't hear anything back from them. So I decided to take what was to become the Troyka album to New York and see if I could get a deal - this was in August of 1969. I made the rounds - then - I remember at a pay phone near Columbus Circle, I called Atlantic Records to get back to them. I had given them a tape a few days earlier. I talked with Shel Kagan who was in Atlantic's A&R Dept. He said are you the guy who sent me a tape from Canada some time ago? I said yes. He said - I want to see you - I loved that tape you sent - but I misplaced your contact info - he said he thought my vocals on Natural were great. With great excitement I went over to Atlantic - just a few blocks from Columbus Circle at that time and met with Shel. He said he wanted to sign us. I remember after the meeting running up Broadway to the cheapo hotel my girlfriend and I were staying at. My feet barely touched the ground - I was ecstatic.
Shel and Gene Paul (Les Paul's son) came up to Edmonton and we spent time in the studio going over the album etc. Shel took the album cover photos at that time.
The album came out at the beginning of 1970. We played at Fillmore East and Ungano's in NewYork. We played with Rare Earth in D.C.
We shared the bill for a couple of big concerts in Edmonton - one with Canned Heat and another with The Byrds.
We did a major tour, mostly at colleges, with Savoy Brown and Family - along the Eastern U.S. Seaboard. We also played at the Eastown Theater in Detroit sharing the bill with Blue Cheer. We ended the tour at the Electric Circus in Toronto sharing the bill with Leslie West & Mountain. During our stay in Toronto Bob announced he was quitting the band ------ MAJOR SHOCK!!!
Ron and I met another guitar player Bob Styrna in Toronto. He joined us and we went back to Edmonton. We headlined a major concert in Edmonton with the new line-up. Bob (Styrna) and I went to L.A. in the summer of 1970 to see if we could get a deal with a second album that we had recorded with the original line up (someday I hope I can find those tapes). We had ended our deal with Atlantic. Nothing transpired in L.A. - so Bob & I went back to Edmonton. We recorded a new album. In January of 1971 my girlfriend and I went to L.A. to try and get a deal with this new album. Nothing transpired. So - that was pretty much the end of Troyka. I became interested in finding out the purpose of life which led to finding a spiritual path. We each followed our own musical paths. All three original members of Troyka are still very active musically.
I moved to L.A. in 1984 after living in Vancouver for about ten years. Over the years I kept writing and recording. I've written and recorded more songs in the last five years than I ever have. I live in New Mexico and work at the Post Office. It pays the bills.
One day this summer (2008) my wife, Deanne suggested we look up Troyka on the internet. My first thought was that there was no way there was going to be anything there (on the net). I was literally shocked when the Troyka website came up. Then I was overcome with emotion and started to cry - much to the bewilderment of my wife.
To cut a long story short - I reconnected with the boys after having had no contact for over 20 years or so. Also, to my amazement, I learned that Troyka had an enthusiastic cult following around the world. - Very cool. I hadn't heard the album for decades. Ron burned me a CD which he sent to me - hey - what can I say - I'm a fan also - I love it - it's a very cool, very pure album made possible by the situation my Dad created by building a studio, Round Sound, in our basement. We could do what we wanted - and we did. I'm very happy that people are still enjoying the music.