Around 1966 I joined a group called The Majestics. I was invited to join by Chris Vickery, their bass player. The drummer was Wes Morris and the musical director was a very young guy, just 17 years old, who was already the organist and choir director at Humberview United Church. I’m talking about Eric Robertson.
This turned out to be one of the best and most popular Toronto bands with whom I ever worked. They had a 4-piece horn section and in those days that was very special. Eric arranged the horn parts in beautiful harmony and voicing that had a real punch.
Personnel of the group when I joined included:
- piano/organ and musical director – Eric Robertson;
- electric bass – Chris Vickery;
- drums – Wes Morris;
- trumpet – Brian Lucrow;
- trombone – Orlando Guerrari;
- tenor / alto sax – Russ Strathdee;
- baritone sax – John Crone
- singer – Shawne Jackson
Later on, we added another singer, Shawne’s brother Jay Jackson, and then a guitar player, Jim Donnett, then another guitar player Dave Konvalinka (who had played with Bobby Chris & The Imperials). During a later time of the band, Freddie Keeler became our guitar player and Jack Posluns became our drummer (“The Nick with the solid kick”). Ultimately our guitar player was Brian Russell.
We would rehearse at his parent’s home on Old Weston Road.
The crowing jewel of this group was the very talented Shawne Jackson as vocalist. I think she was also around 17.
One of the early gigs I recall doing with Shawne Jackson and the Majestics was when we played on the main floor stage of the Avenue Road Club on weekends from December of 1965 to April 1966.
During one of our rehearsals at that venue, we had a casual impromptu visit from Don (DT) Thompson, who had been playing there. It was a thrill for me to see DT checking out the “new vibe” as I knew of him as one of Toronto’s great jazz saxophonist legends.
During my tenure, several guitar players took part in the rhythm section: Jim Donnett, Freddie Keeler, Dave Konvalinka and Brian Russell.
The Majestics played many places throughout Southern Ontario circuit. Here are just a few venues that were in that circuit:
- The Avenue Road Club, Toronto, Ontario
- The Gogue Inn, Toronto
- The Jubilee Pavilion, Oshawa, Ontario
- The Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario
- The Beacon, Wasaga Beach, Ontario
- Hidden Valley, Huntsville, Ontario
- The Pavilon, Orillia, Ontario
- West Hill Collegiate, Toronto
- Thistletown Collegiate
- The Dardinella, Wasaga Beach
- Neil McNeil High School, Toronto
- The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto
- The Met Club, Toronto
- Winter Garden, London, Ontario
- Club Boogaloo, Hamilton
- Nelson Arena, Burlington
One of our special gigs
The Majestics were hired to be one of the performing groups for the grand opening of Canada’s new National Arc Centre (NAC) in Ottawa July 2nd, 1969.
The NAC opened its doors to the public for the first time on 31 May 1969, at a cost of C$46 million.
This was one of the most prestigious gigs of my entire career. Through Eric Robertson’s connections with the CBC, the band was chosen to provide entertainment for this most auspicious occasion. There were only a few other acts, one of them being Gordon Lightfoot.
We were given the VIP treatment, being flown by Air Canada 1st class to Ottawa and each given $500 pocket money to spend while we were there.
In this new state of the art theatre, the stage had a hydraulic centre section that rose up from a lower level to audience level. As we started our opening tune, it slowly started to rise and then the audience appeared…
It was breath taking… so many people in balconies and everywhere.
Recording Sessions With The Majestics at Arc Sound
The Majestics got heavily involved in a number of recording sessions at a place called Arc Sound in Scarborough, Ontario, where they produced 5 albums plus a couple of 45 rpm singles.
All but the last album had instrumental music, due to contractual arrangements of the time, The band was signed to Arc, Shawne was with RCA, Jay with some other agreement.
|The Subtle Art of Self Destruction – Heads Of Our Time|
(1970) Goodgroove 7001 vinyl
|The Soul King OTIS REDDING – A Tribute – the majestics|
(1969) ARC 770 vinyl
|Here Come Da Judge – the majestics|
(1969) ARC 780 vinyl
|Funky Broadway – the majestics|
(1968) ARC 752 vinyl
|Instrumental R&B – the majestics|
(1967) ARC 732 vinyl
Another special gig
Around 1970 the Majestics with Jay Jackson appeared on about 6 TV shows for Toronto’s CBC Television. It was all so surreal for me. This was around the time television in Canada was just starting to have colour and some of the shows were quite colourful for sure. The series was called “Where It’s At“.
An audio sample from one of those TV shows...
Majestics / Where It’s At / Opening Theme and Jay… /
The final chord of music from this group probably came after winding down from the TV experience in 1970. As I said before, this was probably one of the most exciting Toronto groups with which I have ever played.