Klaatu and Prism

Some in Lillooet know something of my history in music, but I doubt many know that back in the '70s, my band Klaatu was mistaken for the Beatles.

John Woloschuck, Terry Draper, and myself, along with Rush producer Terry Brown, started recording our first album in Toronto in 1973. It was released in 1976.

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We were the only band in history signed to a three-album deal with Capitol U.S. without revealing our names! Capitol signed us on the strength of our music only. The album cover gave no clue as to who the members of the band were.

However, the album languished in the delete bins until nine months after release, when a fellow from Rhode Island named Steve Smith wrote a newspaper article claiming that Klaatu was actually the Beatles reunited!

The album sold millions over the next few months while the buzz lasted. We were in England at the time, recording our second album with the London Philharmonic.

Flash forward to 1981. Klaatu had released our fifth album and for the first time we decided to go on tour. We hired three musicians: Gary McCracken (Max Webster) on drums, Mike Gingrich on bass, and Gerald O'Brien on keyboards.

Bryan Adams's manager, Bruce Allen, booked us to open for Prism for 10 shows across Canada.

After a few rehearsals, the "big cheese" Bruce Allen drops in to hear a few songs. He had booked us without knowing anything at all about Klaatu.

We run through a few songs. After we finish, Bruce slowly stands up, and tears into us! "You are going to die a death on stage," he says.

"You can't have three front men in a band these days," he continues. Prism has one lead singer. We have three lead singers.

Bruce left shaking his head in disbelief.

Our first gig was Lethbridge, Alta.

The place is completely sold out and Klaatu hits the stage. People are waving Klaatu banners and flash bulbs are going off as if it was a Beatles concert!

After every song, the place goes nuts. The audience is over the moon. After our third encore, we head backstage extremely happy!

As I'm leaving the building, guitar case in hand, I run into crowds of people in the hallway much to my surprise! I peek into the hall to see Prism taking the stage to an almost empty arena.

I knew that a lot of our fans would come to see us, but Prism is a great band with excellent musicians and they had far more in the way of record sales in Canada than we ever did.

I guess what happened was the Klaatu fans snapped up all the tickets before the Prism fans had a chance?

On we went to Medicine Hat, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and more, finishing at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. Every night it was the same: We played to cheering audiences and Prism was left with few listeners. I felt sorry for them but after being dressed down by Bruce Allen, I also felt proud of what we accomplished.

As we came offstage from the final show, Terry Draper walked up to Bruce and asked, "What do you think now, Bruce?"

He never did answer.

Lillooet's 150th Birthday Homecoming, featuring Prism and another group, Chilliwack, is coming up this summer. I sincerely hope it is a great event and brings a lot of people into town.

I must admit I am envious of Prism. I know they are great guys and I'm thrilled for them that they are able to get out and play again all these years later.

I wish Klaatu could be doing the same thing, although I would not want to be on the same bill with them. Who knows? Things might go the opposite way!

Klaatu will never tour again. John does not want to perform and it would be wrong to go onstage without him. However, we are enjoying great success all these years later with our music, mostly because of our fan base on the Internet. We have more diehard fans today than ever before.

I'm enjoying playing with the Wild Onions. I'm lucky to be able to perform with such good friends and great musicians.

And I wish Prism and Chilliwack all the best.

The Wild Onions' first CD is out now and will be available in local shops by the end of this week. It is available now at www.bullseyecanada.com/deelong_all.html and will also be available soon at www.deelong.com.

And I have a "new" CD out on Bullseye Records Canada that includes 18 demos I recorded around 1971, before the days of Klaatu.

I am lucky to still have music in my life and fans who support me! Thanks for listening, everyone.

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