Grant Smith & The Power

Grant Smith & The Power

: "This article refers to the Canadian singer. For other people of the same name, see Grant Smith (disambiguation)." Grant Smith & The Power were a popular Toronto rock-soul outfit from the 1960s that had a hit with a cover of Jackie Edwards' "Keep On Running" (previously a big hit for The Spencer Davis Group) and was also a training ground for musicians who went on to the likes of McKenna Mendelson Mainline, Motherlode, Crowbar and Leigh Ashford.

Group replaces Eddie Spencer with Grant Smith

Organist Val Stevens, guitarist Les Morris, bassist Mike Harrison, Jerry Mann on saxophone, and drummer Charlie Miller and his brother Ralph Miller (trumpet) had been playing together in the rock-soul group, Eddie Spencer & The Power since October 1966 when a decision was made on 1 January 1967 to introduce a new frontman, singer Ellis Grant Smith, together with guitarist Jim Pauley to replace Les Morris, from rival band E G Smith & The Express. At the same time, Brian “Otis” Ayers, who had previously played with Ralph Miller in The Beau Keys, replaced Jerry Mann on sax. Two weeks later, another former Express member and second drummer, Wayne “Stoney” Stone joined.

During its first year of existence, the group established a solid fan base on the Toronto live circuit, billed either as E G Smith & The Power or as Grant Smith & The Power. Shortly after a show at the Broom and Stone in neighbouring Scarborough, on June 27, 1967, Charlie Miller left the band. Reduced to a single drummer, Grant Smith & The Power headed to the United States for the next two months for live work. On returning to Toronto in early September, Jim Pauley left and was replaced by guitarist Jon Palma.

In New York, the band were offered a deal by Tony Orlando, and promptly recorded their debut single, a soul version of “Keep on Running”, previously a hit for The Spencer Davis Group, coupled with Smith and Stevens’ “Her Own Life”, came out in January 1968 and featured the revised line up (as did a second single on MGM). Both singles were recorded with guest sax player, Steve Kennedy, at Toronto music mogul Art Snider’s Sound Canada studios.

Soon afterwards, Palma left and new guitarist Kenny Marco, who had played with Ayres and Ralph Miller in The Beau Keys during the mid-‘60s (and in the interim, The Upset), was recruited. Around this time, Grant Smith & The Power opened for The Hollies and Spanky & Our Gang at Toronto’s O’Keefe Centre on March 17, 1968. The following month, the band headed off for another US trip, supporting the likes of Janis Joplin, Traffic and Rare Earth.

Harrison joins McKenna Mendelson Mainline

Back in Canada later that summer, former Dianne Brooks, Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers member, Steve Kennedy joined full-time on sax. Following a show at the Hidden Valley in Huntsville, Ontario on October 13, Mike Harrison left to join McKenna Mendelson Mainline. With Val Stevens leaving at about the same time to form his own jazz trio (he later spent some time in England, where he had spells with Tucky Buzzard and Steve Hillage's Khan), Kennedy convinced the group to recruit fellow former Soul Searcher William “Smitty” Smith on the grounds that he could play bass on the pedals of his Hammond organ, meaning there would be fewer musicians to pay.

The revised line up, comprising Grant Smith (vocals), Ralph Miller (trumpet), Brian Ayres and Steve Kennedy (sax), Ken Marco (guitar), Wayne Stone (drums) and William Smith (keyboards) was responsible for recording the bulk of the group’s album in November 1968, which also included the band’s debut single. In early 1969, however, Marco, Kennedy, Smith and Stone left to form Motherlode, who had a massive hit with “And When I Die”.

Drummer Sonny “Jiggs” Bernardi (from The Spirit Revue) and keyboard player Josef Chirowski (from various bands, including Mandala and The Power Project) came in as replacements and remained until February 1970 when they were recruited to join Crowbar. (Chirowski later did sessions for Alice Cooper among others.)

Bassist Joe Agnello also came in at this time from the Lee Ashford Blues Band, though he soon left to rejoin his old mates in a renamed Leigh Ashford. Former Franklin Sheppard sideman, Frank De Felice, filled in for the last few months on drums before joining Jericho in March 1970. The band split up at this stage.

Recordings

45 Keep On Running c/w Her Own Life (BOO 681) 196845 Thinkin’ About You c/w You Got What I Want (MGM 13979) 1968LP Grant Smith & The Power (BOO 6802) 1968

ources

* "Grant Smith & The Power" in Canadian Teen Magazine, May 1967.
* "Kenny Marco story: Grant Smith & The Power/Motherlode" by John Mars, Blitz magazine, Number 43, July-August 1982.
* Nick Warburton interview with Mike Harrison, 2004.
* Bill Munson interviews with Steve Kennedy, 1977, 1998.

External links

* [http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Pop_Encyclopedia/S/Smith_Grant.html The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia]


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