On eve of Stroll of Fame induction, Loverboy's Mike Reno recounts band's early years in Calgary

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Mike Reno likes to inform the story of how Loverboy was rejected, fairly abruptly and in a less-than-polite method, by a record-company PR man within the early days of the band’s profession.

Particulars could also be a bit fuzzy in any case these years, however the singer believes he and co-founding guitarist, Paul Dean, have been nonetheless formally residing in Calgary at this level, although the band would quickly make the transfer to Vancouver. They made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles with their demo tape. It was at the very least 44 years in the past.

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“This was earlier than we got here up with a reputation or something,” says Reno, in an interview with Postmedia from his dwelling in Vancouver. “We went down and had a gathering with anyone at Capitol Information and performed him a cassette tape of us demoing in a warehouse simply with a ghetto blaster. The man simply laughed at us. We stated ‘OK, thanks on your time.’  We went on to promote 60-million information — with all of the completely different soundtracks we’ve finished, it provides as much as about 60 million. So I’m wondering if he ever kicked himself within the ass for not signing us after that.”

Whereas lead singer Mike Reno seemed on, guitarist Paul Dean from ’80s rockers Loverboy claimed, “It’s good to be right here, it’s good to be wherever.” The Canadian rockers have been introduced as 2009 inductees into the Canadian Music Corridor of Fame. Rob Kruyt, 24 Hours Vancouver

It’s a kind of last-laugh tales that defines Loverboy’s prolonged profession as Canada’s final underdogs finished good.  On the time of this interview, Reno and his bandmates had simply returned from a extremely profitable tour with Foreigner, enjoying in entrance of “18,000 folks each night time,” the singer says. Foreigner, which is roughly the identical classic as Loverboy, introduced that this newest tour could be their final. Loverboy, however, has made no such proclamations. Extra excursions are deliberate. They could enter the studio quickly to file some singles. In 2021 and 2022, they went on a profitable, well-attended tour with American bands REO Speedwagon and Styx.

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“Final yr, I believe was probably the greatest live performance excursions we ever had as a result of we actually received together with the fellows from Styx and the fellows from REO Speedwagon,” says Reno. “Numerous the identical guys are all the identical folks which have been with them for years and they’re so good. Final yr’s teams have been so good. Styx is unbelievable, REO is so nice. This yr, the Foreigner band was so nice.”

Reno’s perpetual enthusiasm and obvious camaraderie along with his friends is an endearing high quality. He’s so pleasant and down-to-earth that it’s simple to neglect he as soon as helped lead certainly one of Canada’s most profitable musical exports within the Eighties. On Sept. 28, Loverboy can be amongst 13 acts that can be added to Canada’s Stroll of Fame with a ceremony at Toronto’s historic Massey Corridor. Whereas there are just a few outliers, for probably the most half the lineup reads like a Cancon playlist from a basic radio station: April Wine, Chilliwack, Glass Tiger, Lee Aaron, Lighthouse, Max Webster, Michel Pagliaro, Platinum Blonde, PRISM, Tough Commerce, The Parachute Membership and Trooper.

Loverboy has little doubt crossed paths with most if not all of their fellow inductees. After being signed to Columbia Information in 1980, actually, one of many band’s first excursions was as a assist act for PRISM. As they moved up the classic-rock ladder, they quickly scored opening slots with American bands similar to Kansas, ZZ Prime and Journey. As anybody who had entry to a radio, or tv, within the Eighties already is aware of, the band’s ascension after releasing their 1980 self-titled debut, which featured hits similar to Flip Me Unfastened and the Child is Scorching Tonight, was bewilderingly fast. Inside just a few years, they’d develop into intercourse symbols and bona fide rock stars each of their dwelling nation and, extra importantly, america.

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However just a few years earlier than the band started its meteoric rise, the 2 predominant architects of the Loverboy sound have been each residing considerably uninspired, if not downright depressing, lives in Calgary.

It’s a part of the band’s compelling rags-to-riches lore that begins with Reno and Dean assembly at a Calgary warehouse in 1978. As with most lore, particulars range relying on whether or not it’s Reno or Dean telling the story. However each agree it was not a good time in both of their respective music careers. Dean, who was born in Vancouver however grew up in Calgary, was already 32 by that time and had returned to  town after being fired from Streetheart, a Regina outfit that was being touted because the nation’s subsequent massive rock band. In a 2007 interview with Postmedia, Dean describes these days as “probably the most devastating interval of my life.” He attached along with his outdated supervisor, Lou Blair, who received him some house in a warehouse near Calgary’s Refinery, a bar that Blair co-owned.

As luck would have it, Reno was within the midst of a equally unfortunate interval. He has additionally spent some youth in Calgary and had adopted his university-bound girlfriend to town after a brief stint with the Toronto act Moxy. The singer had joined Moxy particularly as a result of the act had a file deal. He sang on certainly one of their information earlier than realizing he was extra formidable than his new bandmates. He left the band and was at a crossroads, working development in hopes of elevating some cash to journey. One chilly night time within the winter of 1978, he went to go see a Johnny Rivers live performance on the Refinery. As a result of he needed to be on the development website at 5 a.m. the following morning, he left the live performance early. On the time, he remembers hoping his automotive would begin in Calgary’s frigid climes. However he was quickly distracted when he went out the again door of the membership and heard “this noise from what was an outdated bus-repair warehouse.”

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“The home windows have been all papered and taped and painted so that you couldn’t actually see in,” says Reno. “There was this little half door, I opened it and noticed this man sitting in the midst of large warehouse on a chair with this ghetto blaster at his ft and he was simply rocking out some rhythms and stuff all by himself. Principally, he was writing some songs. I believe simply earlier than the door closed he stated ‘Hey man, come on in.’ That was the primary time I met Paul.”

Dean was almost a decade older than the younger singer, however they instantly bonded after discovering they shared frequent objectives. They started writing songs that first night time collectively.  Like most individuals concerned within the Canadian music scene, Reno was conscious of Streetheart and says he vaguely acknowledged Dean even earlier than listening to his story.

“Streetheart would come to Toronto and everyone would exit of their minds as a result of these guys have been actually good,” Reno says. “This was again when there was every kind of nightclubs and bars and stuff. I bear in mind listening to that these guys may simply blow the doorways proper off a spot and I believed ‘That is cool.’ I couldn’t imagine he wasn’t with Streetheart anymore. What the hell occurred there? That’s a complete different story and it wasn’t a constructive story and he was fairly upset about the entire thing. I mainly had nowhere to go, both. I used to be simply in search of one thing.”

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Reno has fond recollections of Calgary’s music scene on the time, saying it was nearly as good a spot as any to play for an energetic bar band. The explanation Reno and Dean, and later keyboardist Doug Johnson, relocated to Vancouver so rapidly was to safe Bruce Allen as a co-manager, Reno says. In Vancouver, the band was joined by bassist Scott Smith and drummer Matt Frenette.  Allen had helped information Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and, later, Michael Buble to profitable careers south of the border. Allen, who remains to be a distinguished power within the business, signed on to co-manage the act and stayed with them by means of the peak of their fame. Their fame was actually spectacular. They offered tens of millions of albums, offered out stadium worldwide and have become early stars of music movies, which made them favourites of MTV. The hits stored coming as nicely, together with the radio staple Working for the Weekend, which helped flip the band’s 1981 sophomore album Get Fortunate into successful, and Lovin’ Each Minute of it in 1985.

Mike REno
Loverboy’s Mike Reno: ( circa Eighties) Colin Shaw / Edmonton Journal. Picture by Colin Shaw /PROVINCE Edmonton Journal

As with most acts, some darker moments adopted. Inside strife started to indicate as early because the mid-Eighties, regardless of the band’s success. Hair steel and later grunge and alt-rock altered the musical panorama and Loverboy went on hiatus. In 2000, bassist Scott Smith was swept overboard of his sailboat off the coast of San Francisco. His physique was by no means discovered. In 2001, the band started enjoying dwell exhibits once more. In 2007, they launched its first album in 10 years. Since then, the band has stored an energetic schedule touring with fellow Eighties highway warriors similar to Foreigner and REO Speedwagon. In 2009, Loverboy was inducted into the Canadian Music Corridor of Fame.

Did Reno ever assume he would nonetheless be doing this 44 years after assembly Dean in that warehouse?

“Hey, pay attention, this morning I wakened, had espresso and I listened to the Rolling Stones’ new tune,” Reno says with a good-natured giggle. “Mick Jagger celebrated his eightieth birthday. You might ask Mick Jagger the identical factor. Loverboy has been at it for 44 years. I by no means anticipated to be doing this for 44 years, however I’m positive loving it.”

Loverboy can be inducted into Canada’s Stroll of Fame on Sept. 28 at Massey Corridor in Toronto.

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