1981

Ridout Tavern

London, ON

Details:

The remaining members of Max Webster (McCracken/Watkinson/Gingrich/McMurray) briefly remained an instrumental quartet under the name "Sky Orchestra." They recorded some demos and then played a single gig in London, Ontario opening for Larry "Jasper" Klassen (of The Battered Wives) that, according to McCracken, "didn't go very well," resulting in his immediate departure, along with Gingrich.

Meanwhile, the band Klaatu, notorious for not touring, needed to fulfill a contractual obligation to go on the road, and thus had to augment their trio for the live environment. McCracken and Gingrich were drafted in for the job, with Terry Watkinson joining soon thereafter (Terry is seen below singing lead on his own song called "Weep No More"; a Mike Gingrich tune called "Anastasia" was performed as well). The sextet played a couple dozen dates from November 1981 through summer 1982, mostly opening for Prism (and reportedly stealing the show at nearly every gig; Prism subsequently split immediately after the tour). McCracken left the project in mid-1982 (being replaced by Marty Morin) to join the band Wrabit. Around this time Watkinson also played with B.B. Gabor and Frank Soda.

These three ex-Websters were also the backing band on the Great White North album released in 1981, most famous for the hit single "Take Off" with guest vocalist Geddy Lee.

By late 1982 Terry Watkinson and Gary McCracken joined forces with Wrabit keyboardist Gerald O'Brien (who also played with original Max Webster drummer Paul Kersey in "The Hunt" and with Gingrich in "Nightwinds") in a short-lived project called "ExpressO". They recorded a few tracks at Phase One in Toronto, but like the Sky Orchestra material, it remains unreleased.

And of course, in 1982 Kim Mitchell released his self-titled EP, setting the course for a very successful solo career. Several of his albums went platinum (one three times platinum) in Canada, leading to three Juno awards (with 17 nominations in all). His partnership with Max Webster lyricist Pye Dubois remained intact for most of this fruitful period. He continued to headline the arenas in Canada as a solo artist, and has maintained his status as one of the country's top concert acts. He also remains popular in Sweden, where he headlined the Sweden Rock Festival in 2005. From 2004 to 2015 as a DJ at Toronto rock radio station Q107, he regularly had candid conversation with some of the biggest names in the business.

Terry Watkinson also forged a solo career, with his debut album "Teratology" appearing in 1995. "Ask" followed in 2015, which also found him playing saxophone. Gary McCracken, also a multi-instrumentalist, released an album called "Audioscapes" in 2000.

Steve McMurray passed away in 2014.

Other Bands on the Bill:

Larry "Jasper" Klassen

Photos:


These photos are from several 1981-82 Klaatu shows. The first seven were taken by Marc Riendeau at an April 1982 gig at the Blackhawk Motor Inn in Belleville, ON, and the last seven b/w shots were taken by Bob Reid at Ontario Place in August 1982 (the first three of which are from soundcheck).

The last photo is of Wrabit and Rush backstage at the Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton on October 3, 1982.

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Lineup

Gary McCracken - Drums
Terry Watkinson - Keyboards
Mike Gingrich - Bass
Steve McMurray - Guitar

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