I’d like to dedicate this story to the memory of a dear, departed friend GERRY MORGAN who we lost in July of 2018. Rest in peace, Gerry. I love you brother.
And cheers to my old bandmate EVAN CALFORD (aka Barry Kuda) who wrote to me recently and mentioned to me that he was disappointed to see that there was nothing on my website about our great band, “Number 1”. So here you go, Evan!
After “The Action” broke up in 1981, my brother Michael, Gerry Morgan and I formed a new band-called “Number 1”
After our band ” The Action” broke up in 1981, my brother Michael, Gerry Morgan and I formed a new band-called “Number 1”..we had become frustrated working with Ted Axe – and we moved on to a more funky, rock style..we recruited local two singers – Evan Calford and Gordy Uranus.
A friend of mine had recently given me the new Roland“ Chorus Ensemble“ and it really gave me a signature sound!. People would come up to me at gigs ,and ask me how I got this “12 string” sound…the “Chorus’ effect was brand new at the time and it really sounded fresh and original!…I used that, combined with an” Echoplex” tape echo and two Brown Fender Deluxes and a matching Fender reverb unit (modified to act like a tube pre-amp to boost my sound!) Sometimes I would also use a Wem Copycat” as a tube preamp/echo…I also used my beautiful ’61 Pink Strat.
For most of my guitar work in” No1..-it had (and has) a beautiful funky sound! (and was built weeks(!!) apart from Rory Gallagher’s famous Strat!!) During this time I acquired more vintage guitars-they were affordable then! I used Supro’s, an old 50’s Fender Musicmaster, a Fender Mustang and an old Lucite Dan Armstrong –
we also did an unplugged set (before it became popular!) and I played my trusty ,old, 1930 National “0 style “ resonator guitar with gorgeous sandblasted Hawaiian scenes on its body.. We started writing new songs for the band, and also reworked some of the old “Action“ songs to suit us..we developed a cool ,funky,sound…-gentler than The Action…but more” musical “(to my ears) and a very early ’80’s sound!
A friend of ours, recommended Evan. C. as a possible singer and we auditioned him in Gerry’s A friend of ours, recommended Evan.C as a possible singer and we auditioned him in Gerry’s basement…Evan had only been in basement bands previously, but was a ‘rough diamond’! He had a great raunchy voice-like one of the great R&B singers from the early 60’s, and with a little work, he became a great writer..(though sometimes it was tough for me to get him to ‘produce’-it could be like pulling teeth! Evan was a great singer-sort of like Bryan Adams (Tony McLean said, “Evan looks like “Iggy Pop’s bastard son!”. Evan also reminded us of the classic Motown singers! He influenced many Ottawa singers and he had a big voice for a small guy..(yeah…” good things come in small packages”!
Gordy Uranus was a bit older than Gerry and I – he was a veteran musician who had led his own band and he also had a great voice and was a good song writer too!
Gerry Morgan had been in The Action on and off from 1978 until the band’s demise. He had a strong outgoing personality but could turn off some people…..(but I loved him!)…But he was a real hustler and a great producer…
Gerry Morgan had been in The Action on and off from 1978 until the band’s demise. He had a strong. outgoing. personality that could turn off some people…..(but I loved him!!!!). he was a real hustler and a great producer -helping us hone our songs and song writing..
My brother Michael played bass and did some back-up vocals-his bass playing combined with Gerry’s drumming gave” NO 1″ a warm,”hypnotic”, sound..Gerry and Michael would spend hours rehearsing together- just the bass and drums..
No rehearsal started until Gerry,Michael and I got high ..we almost couldn’t play without smoking some hash or weed..we were so broke that we couldn’t afford to buy much dope….so it was ‘hot knives” .but Gerry always” came through” for us..even though he had a family to support!!.We rehearsed five days a week- all day-and back then ,finding gigs was easy! – Lots of places to play…..In the late fall of 1981, my wife and I took a trip over to the U.K (I met her there in Cardiff, Wales, as she was already there- dancing with her dance company -we had a great holiday and spent some time in, Wales and Cornwall,
before going to London…While we were in London, I went ’round to a lot of great clothing stores- “Carnaby St./”Kings Road”/” Kensington Market”..I wanted to find some Beatle Boots ( I had a few different pairs in the 1960s ( though my parents wouldn’t allow me to wear them- so I had to hide them in my locker at school and change to my loafers| before going home at night!)
I found a few nice pairs of black, suede Beatle Boots and I was just delighted! We went to Kensington Market one day, in search of a leopard skin jacket-I couldn’t find one -but I did buy two pairs of, skin tight leopard skin pants (that were made in Germany)
...Dave Hill looked at me wearing the leopard skin pants and said: I’d like a pair of those!!
As I was trying on the pants in the store, a distinctive looking guy with a weird,distictive, haircut (who was definitely a musician) came into the store and started chatting with the owner – it was Dave Hill- (the lead guitarist from the band `Slade“..he looked at me wearing he pants and said: I’d like a pair of those!! The store owner said: `he (meaning me) looks like a young Freddie Mercury“! I also bought some cool records while in London..some Rory Gallagher (I had worn out my copies of “Live In Europe” and “Irish Tour” trying to cop Rory’s great guitar playing!! I also stocked up on my Status Quo collection! My wife and I also went to the” W.EM.” factory to get some parts for my old W.E.M `Copycat“ tape echo- The WEM factory was a cool, old ,”Dickensian” building where all the WEM equipment was being built…I had always been a fan of “WEM” stuff after seeing the amps and cabinets on the back of the Pink Floyd album Ùmagumma`! While we were in London. I called John Schroeder (Status Quo’s producer for most of their big hits -we were big fans of “Quo”) I had brought a “No 1 ” basement demo tape with me just in case someone wanted to hear it..I had a brief conversation with Schroder and he was interested in hearing our demo..but I never” followed up” on it- another lost opportunity ! I have had many of those(lost opportunities) through the years..guess that’s why my career has been so up and down!…
...We played at some rough places in Quebec too…one night a tough Frenchman told me, “YOU LOOK LIKE A LITTLE GIRL“!
When we returned to Canada It didn’t take long to write enough songs to start gigging again-we played all over the Ottawa area-some rough places in Quebec too..one night at “The British Hotel” (in Quebec) and tough Frenchman told me : “You look like a little girl”!…I did have a pretty flashy, glam, punk look- in my skin tight. leopard skin pants- “winkle picker” suede Beatle boots.- hennaed, black spiky hair , with copius amounts of Koal eye liner! (Debby Harry) from ‘Blondie” thought so too… I was at a” Blondie” gig, and as we watched them , my friend nudged me and told me: ” Debbby’s giving you the eye”!!
Underneath my leopard skin pants I wore my father’s cast off boxer shorts- a few sizes too big for me- I couldn’t even afford to buy underwear.!!!… Evan teased me at the time: “if only the the girls could see what you’re wearing underneath those leopard skin pants!!” … After gigging around for months, Gerry decided we needed a manager to take us to the next level..(it was burning Gerry out trying to be our and he had visible signs of exhaustion!.I don’t recall how we met Gord Nichols (the manager for the Rolling Stones clone band “The Blushing Brides”…we did some showcase gigs with “The Brides” and they seemed to like us…”The Brides” were very successful and played all over Canada and the U.S…we signed to their management and did a lot of gigs opening for them..it was a mistake signing with Nichols” though…he didn’t know how to market an original band..selling “the Brides” was a different task than selling an unknown original band!
Gord Nichols arranged a recording session for our band in the States (Connecticut) but before our session, the crafty manager convinced us to give our song publishing rights away (50% of each songs royalties) in exchange for the the low budget session! Nichols assigned The Brides road manager to produce our session – his name was Dickey ( “Diamond”) Kahl.. as far as I know, Dickey had never produced a band before -.and he didn’t do much except sit behind the studio desk and listen. Nichols also gave Dicky the job of being our babysitter on the tour…as soon as we crossed the U.S/ Canadian border in our van I asked if we could stop to buy some beer..(we had a prodigious thirst for beer and swilled it whenever we got a chance!!) The Brides weren’t drinkers (but were into coke) and Dickey wasn’t used to our ways..later that night.. after we had checked into our hotel in New Haven ,we heard Dickey reporting in with Nichols on the phone: Dickey replied to Nichols… “are they (No 1) alcoholics?… I don’t know”……we got a real laugh out of that..that wasn’t exactly the rock &roll lifestyle to us !!.. We did some pre-production sessions at the studio (it was called “Trod Nossel”) and it it turned out that the pre-production.stuff actually sounded better than the ‘finished”/overdubbed end product..the pre-production sessions were recorded ‘live off the floor” and sounded full of energy and were ballsy..the overdubbed ‘formal’ session sounded “dead” -no life in them..it taught me then- that the ONLY way to record a rock&roll band- is live off the floor!
We met the studios owner “Doc” (he was rumored to be in the Church Of Scientology..) I asked him if he knew where I could find an old Rickenbacker 12 string guitar for sale- a few days later,he told me that he had found one-it was in a store in New London Connecticut about 60 miles from the studio…Gerry and I drove to New London to look at the guitar-New London was a beautiful old whaling town with a cool history ,cobbled streets…..as usual I was dead broke. and I traded one of my Brown Fender Deluxe amps for the guitar…the guitar was gorgeous-just like Roger Mcquinn’s or George Harrisons!
A fellow traveller jumped on top of me – in my hotel bed, and he had a raging hard on!! ..I pushed him off disgusted ..we knew he “swung both ways!!”
Our roadie ” Bill” – was a ladies man! he picked up a young groupie and he could hear his bed headboard banging against the wall in the adjoining hotel room as they had got it on..the next day, ” Mum” came looking for her daughter, and got more of the same treatment from BIll! We teased Bill about it- and he blushed with shame! Not to be outdone, one morning, a fellow traveller jumped on top of me while I was in my hotel bed, and he had a raging, hard on!! ..I pushed him off disgusted – but we laughed hysterically ..we knew he swung both ways!!
By this time I was pretty high and when the ‘guy’ asked me if I knew who he was… I told him no-I didn’t have the foggiest idea…he told me that his name was Robin Williams..(the comedian) ….still didn’t know who he was ( I didn’t (and don’t) watch |T.V.)…that took the wind out of his sails- and we all had a great laugh about it later!
After we had finished recording we went on a (U.S) east coast tour with” The Brides” they were a huge act in that part of the U.S at that time. and we played for some big audiences! We did some shows in Boston and it was an exciting town- crazy in fact! After one of our gigs one night, we partied at the hotel with The Brides – Maurice (the ” Mick” of the band) told me that I made a better “Keith” than the Brides “Keith’! (Paul Martin) ..well it was better than being told I looked like Ron Wood all the time! “The Brides” were into cocaine at that time. and they dished it out in quantities at the party..I was a novice with ‘coke’ (preferring gentler stimulation…-“herb” and lots of beer!)..after a few lines of coke, I was feeling great! I noticed a guy (and what looked like his bodyguard) arrive at the party..By this time I was pretty high and when the ‘guy’ asked me if I knew who he was… I told him no – I didn’t have the foggiest idea…he told me that his name was Robin Williams..(the comedian) …I still didn’t know who he was ( I didn’t (and don’t) watch |T.V.)…that took the wind out of his sails- and we all had a great laugh about it later! I had a rough night though-I found out coke did not agree with me! I like something to relax me- not get me wired!!…beer and ‘herb’ suit me better!..
I returned home late and feeling out of sorts, I lay down in bed with my Bloodhound “(Obie”) and a guitar and wrote a beautiful tune, “Donna” – straight from the heart!
Paul and Obie, the Bloodhound
After we returned to Canada,The Brides management contacted us and told us that they thought we should change our (current) line-up by getting rid of Gordy (they thought two lead singers was confusing the ‘direction’ of the band). It was a tough decision but we thought our management had good intentions (later we found out they didn’t..)..The band soldiered on four piece..(I missed having another guitarist in the band as I always thought that slide guitar sounds better with another instrument ‘underneath” it to fatten up the sound. …
But we came up with some great new songs with only one guitar – one night after an exhausting day (and night) playing a gig with The Brides outdoors at “Camp Fortune” in Quebec,
I returned home late and feeling out of sorts, I lay down in bed with my Bloodhound “Obie” and my guitar and wrote a beautiful tune – it was straight from the heart! I capo’d the guitar high (9th fret)in Open G and came out with these soulful chords- it is probably my favorite song I’ve written in my whole life!….- Later, when the band worked on the tune, .Evan came up with some great lyrics and melody..but on the ‘chorus’ there were no lyrics – he just sang -” na-na -na-na na -na- na”…(Evan’s girlfriend, “Donna”, had just left him and moved to England) – he was broken hearted about losing her, and the song was obviously about her…finally, after playing the new song over and over again, , Gerry leaned over his drum kit and said to Evan :”why don’t you just say it??- “DONNA”!
The song (“Donna”) now was completed and we loved it! (And Fenton Brothers still perform it to this day-36 years later!)
I used “Open G” tuning (the same tuning Keith Richards has used for many of the classic Stones songs) exclusively…it wasn’t until later when I met David Gilmour from (Pink Floyd) and he taught me how to tune to Open G and D minor
At this time in my life, I used “Open G” tuning (the same tuning Keith Richards has used for many of the classic Stones songs) exclusively…it wasn’t until later, (in ’87) when I met David Gilmour from (Pink Floyd) and he taught me how to tune to Open G and D minor that I started using different tunings ..before that I would cringe when someone asked me to play a minor song – when you’re stuck in a major tuning it’s tough to play in a minor mode!!
The band kept on gigging and writing songs-we had a very fertile period at this time – another great song we wrote – was “I Can’t Believe” – another – “teen angst“ ode to Evan’s ex girlfriend Donna- it was another very soulful and original sounding tune that suited our stripped down, `three piece“ sound.
We played at a big club in Kingston, Ontario-called `The Manor“- it was on the water (Lake Ontario) – a week long gig (unheard of these days- bands now are lucky – to be able to play a whole night- bands in that era ( and before ) played week long stints at clubs – by the end of the week the band was HOT from playing night after night- that`s how bands like The Beatles- got so good- from playing so much!)
The stripper moaned – “Ì wish I had my strap-on dildo with me !!”
Our roadie checked us in to the club (we were staying on the premises for the week)- he walked out a few minutes later, and yelled at us `right on- we`re rooming with the strippers“!!!!! ( the club had another sort of live“ entertainment“ besides bands!! Needless to say it was a `’tiring“ week…… later that week., a fellow traveler was handcuffed to his hotel bed by a stripper- and she moaned -“Ì wish I had my strap -on dildo with me !!“
I almost tossed my cookies at Millhaven when I looked at the ‘spread’ laid on for us – it consisted of Girl Guide sugar cookies /Kool Aid and “Spam”
After our gig at The Manor-we played at” Millhaven Penitentiary” (about a half hour away from Kingston) -Millhaven was known as THE toughest `joint“ in Canada! We got up early at “The Manor” -hung over and tired- and drove to Millhaven for an early performance,,..The prison was very intense as we pulled up to it in our van . The band were searched, and then we were escorted into the prison! We discovered (later) that we had accidentally brought into the prison – my medieval knife – (about 9 inches long) which had engraved on the blade “Captain Morgan” … my brother always carried it with him in case of ‘trouble’! We were completely spaced out and being inside the prison felt totally unreal- the trustees told us- they had a great spread of food laid out for us – we were starving and badly hung-over with hardly any sleep the night before! We hadn’t eaten since the day before and were as poor as church mice! So-stopping at a roadside diner on the way to the prison was out of the question! I almost tossed my cookies when I looked at the ‘spread’- it consisted of Girl Guide sugar cookies /Kool Aid and “Spam” luncheon meat-there was no way I was going to even look at it! We started chatting with a few of the inmates-they seemed nice! One big guy – seemed especially nice – he asked me for my home address (and I gave it to him) he told me he was going to” look me up” when he got ‘out’..I told another inmate (later) that the guy was going to come and see me when he got out – and that I thought that he was a nice ..! -The other inmate said to me: ‘oh yeah…he’s a nice guy all right – he murdered his entire family!! And I had just given the serial murderer- my home address and he was going to come and see me!! We finally played our set-mixed with some cover tunes that we thought our ‘captive’ audience would like – Creedence/Aerosmith/Stones / The Who /and our own material..
as we were playing, I looked up. and I could see guards standing high above us on walkways with machine guns-the scene was straight out of the Elvis movie “Jailhouse Rock”!!! I looked out at the convicts as we were playing -I did a double take when I saw a hot looking blonde “woman” giving me the eye as we played (then I remembered it was a MEN”S prison….) no women in there! I found out later that the ‘woman’ had almost completed ‘her’ sex change- very unusual for the early 1980’s!! As we packed up, another inmate told us how much he had enjoyed our Credence songs-he said” those songs were hits when I first came in here”! (I thought about what he had said later, and I realized-man..when those Credence songs were hits..that was in- 1969!!!) Later, we heard another inmate exclaiming about another inmate- “he finally did it..he finally did it! -he finally was able to give himself his own blowjob!!!…We were relieved to get out of ‘Millhaven’ and head home -it had been a weird road trip!!
I looked back at Gerry and saw him get off his drums (in the middle of a song) and (literally) run off the stage!
When we returned to Ottawa-we got back into rehearsing and gigging-we were asked to play a party at a local club called “The Rib” with a few other bands. I arrived at soundcheck to see Gerry and Michael already partying at (4pm?) Gerry was drinking out of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and was consuming a bag of ‘mushrooms’..I thought to myself. that it was a bit ‘early’ for that and what was ‘ahead’? Later. as we played our set (10pm?) I noticed the drumming was definitely off the beat…I looked back at Gerry and saw him get off his drums (in the middle of a song) and (literally) run off the stage! We didn’t see him for the rest of the night and finally had to enlist one of the drummers from one of the other bands to finish our set..the next day I went over to Gerry’s to see how he was doing and he was “resting comfortably” in bed as his wife kneeled beside him stroking his brow..it had been a rough night!
Our roadie told me, “you finally did it – you finally did it – you finally drowned out – the entire PA system”!!
We had a real character as our soundman-his name was Ian Smelley- and he must’ve weighed 300 odd pounds-he was a great soundman and used echo and effects very artistically -(a soundman can make or break a band! Ian was always ‘on me’ about turning my amps volume down (I used two 100 watt |”Stramp” amplifiers(that I had bought in NYC -they had formerly been owned by Leslie West of “Mountain”) with two ‘salt and pepper’ 4/12 Marshall cabinets) I never complied with his request though-figured he’d finally give up…one night he came up to me after our set and said to me : ‘you finally did it-you finally did it -you finally drowned out the entire PA system”!!
I quickly grabbed “Quinnie” as he fell out of the speeding van – he just made it back in – he would have been killed! He was shaking and stuttered “You..you.you..saved my life”!
I had been missing having a ‘second’ guitar in the band and we hired a guitar player named Sean (“Quinnie”) Quinnlen – he was gaining his guitar chops at that time, but we had a great look together (very Keith Richards & Ron Wood) and Quinnie was an easy going, nice guy! We heard around this time that Rory Gallagher was going to play in Montreal..Rory was my absolute hero and the reason I became a musician-we asked our manager if he could get us as the support act for Rory-we got the gig and drove down to Montreal-as our van took a high speed ,sharp turn, the side door of the van slid open and “Quinnie” started falling out (no one wore seat belts in those days!) I quickly grabbed “Quinnie” as he fell out -he just made it back in the van! He was shaking and stuttered “You..you.you..saved my life”! We arrived in Montréal in the mid afternoon at the club ” The Spectrum”- a great club!
I could hardly wait to see Rory again – the last time I met him was in ’73 at The Colonial Tavern in Toronto. I saw him walk into the club-he looked tired…(I read later..In Gerry McAvoy’s book “Riding Shotgun”) that this was a a rough time in Rory’s life- he had just got off a tour with “Rush’ and as McAvoy told me -‘they’re (Rush) nice guys -but…”) We had a great time talking with Rory before the gig..I showed him my Pink Strat and he put it on and played it with its matching pink strap and told me :“it’s just like mine“!
I told Rory I`d seen him at the old “Colonial Tavern” and he said in his lovely, lilting, Irish accent: ” ah. yes….the good old days’ !!!
I told Rory I`d seen him at the old “Colonial Tavern” and he said in his lovely, lilting, Irish accent: ” ah. yes….the good old days’ !!! I introduced Quinnie to Rory and Rory said, “Ah, Sean – that’s a lovely Irish name!”. When we (Number 1) did our soundcheck (after Rory’s three hour souncheck!!) Rory literally ran across the stage to look at my Stramp amps-Rory was a personal friend of Stramp’s owner (Peter Strueven- in Hamburg)….. Our Singer (Evan) was in our dressing room and Rory walked by Evan( who was lying down) -he saw my Ampeg” Reverberocket” amp in the room and said’ :”Ay ay ay”!! .. It was a cool looking amp! Later that night. we asked McAvoy if he wanted to smoke some” herb’ with us -he said: ‘maybe after the show..’ I found out later ,.that drugs were strictly no-no with Rory! (or anybody in his organization) I also spoke with Rory’s keyboard player- I told him that I thought he was a lot better than the former keyboardist (Lou Martin) he replied to me : ‘he speaks highly of you ” – that put me in my place…! We sat backstage and watched Rory’s show from the wings.. we were impressed to see that Rory had a roadie who’s only job- was to to refill Rory’s brandy/cognac and beer glasses that were sitting behind his Vox AC30 amp!! Rory told me later, (after the show) that he caught our show and was impressed with our song “Donna’ -capo’d high (at the 9th fret) on my Pink Stratocaster. After playing with Rory we did a (short) Eastern Canada tour ..it was a disaster and very depressing…we did our last show on the tour in Dartmouth/Halifax when we were fired for having a bigger poster than the main act we were supporting! This current lineup of Number One was weak too..when we returned to Ottawa( licking our wounds) we let “Quinnie” go …and hired Ronald Gilfillan
…after we let “Quinnie” go, we and hired Ronald Gilfillan, an up and coming. guitar player…
a young, up and coming. guitar player. (my brother John had given “Ron” guitar lessons and they had paid off!) Ronald would also play in later bands with us.. (Fenton Bros).
We continued playing around locally with this line up- then The Blushing Brides asked me to join them – it was a tough decision for me to make -but Number one had, had a lot of ‘knocks’ by this time. and it felt like the right thing to do…I knew the band wasn’t going to take the news lightly and Gerry and our producer friend Loch McFadden sat down with me and tried to convince me not to leave..they said that ‘The Brides’ were on their way out (that was true) and that Number one was a great band..looking back I should’ve heeded their advice….The Brides permanently ridded me of my (slight) stage fright. But I also lost that nice.funky, gentle, groove that made Number One so special!!