01. Mountain Man
02. If There Ever Was A Time
03. No Opportunity Necessary
04. Never Say Goodbye
05. Follow The Stars
06. Whatever Forever
07. Eight Miles High
08. Marsha Marsha
09. Ah I Can Feel It
10. Life Can Be So Simple
- Arnie Chycoski / trumpet
- Ralph Cole / guitar, vocals
- Pinky Dauvin / vocals
- Don Dinovo / viola
- Grant Fullerton / bass, vocals
- Ian Guenther / vocals
- Paul Hoffert / keyboards
- Russ Little / trombone
- Skip Prokop / guitar, drums, vocals
- Howard Shore / saxophone
- Larry Smith / trombone, vocals
- Les Snider / cello
- Fred Stone / trumpet
- Don Whitton / cello
Canadian brass rock band LIGHTHOUSE were formed in Toronto 1969. Unusually, the band leader Ronn "Skip" Prokop (born 13 December 1946 in Ontario) was a drummer, he has played previously with artists such as Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana and Al Kooper before forming his first band THE PAUPERS. Of these, the Kooper connection is probably the most significant, as the music of Lighthouse is based around a solid brass section and big arrangements, similar to those of BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS and CHICAGO (TRANSIT AUTHORITY).
Prokop's ambitions were made clear from the outset when the first line up of Lighthouse had no less than 11 members. The were quickly picked up by RCA Victor, who release the bands self titled debut in 1969. Further albums followed quickly, but the punningly titled "Peacing it all together", their third release, would see the end of their relationship with RCA.
The move to GRT records coincided with the recruitment of vocalist Bob McBride, whose contribution to the fourth album "One fine morning" proved to be a commercial turning point for the band. The album spawned the bands first two hit singles, including the striking title track.
Prokop's penchant for jazz/fusion and classical music led to a number of live collaborations with orchestras which, when combined with the band's appearances at a number of high profile pop/rock festivals (they declined an offer to appear at Woodstock though), meant Lighthouse's fortunes continued in the ascendancy. Perhaps realising letting the band go had been a touch premature, RCA quickly put together a compilation of the material they still owned in 1971, in the form of the rather cheekily titled "One fine light" compilation. The following year, the band's first live album, the superb "Lighthouse live" was released, becoming Canada's first platinum selling album.
Singer Bob McBride would leave the band after the release of the "Sunny days" album, a time which in retrospect was the beginning of the end for the band in both commercial and creative terms. Despite the fact that it was on reality his band, Prokop left in 1974 after the next album "Good day". The rest of the band soldiered on for a while, but the soul of the band had gone, and they eventually bowed to the inevitable and split in 1976.
In 1993, the band reunited for a tour and a new album "Song of the ages". The album was not very well received by fans of the band, who felt it failed to capture the magic of the band's glory years.
Bob McBride died from substance abuse in 1998 at the age of 51. The reunited band however continues to tour.
Recognized as one of the best performing acts of their time, they toured 300 days a year including sold out performances at Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Expo ‘70 in Japan and the Isle of Wight Festival in England where they were the only act besides Jimi Hendrix asked to perform twice among acts that included The Doors, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Who and Chicago. Back home, their free concerts at Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square attracted one hundred thousand people. Indeed, it’s hard to find a person who lived in Canada through the 1970s who didn’t see the group live. They were Canada’s band.
Free-wheeling, high-spirited – the music of Lighthouse mirrored the times. Their story is interwoven with the history of late twentieth century Canada. Their rise to fame coincided with a new awareness of Canadian culture, encouraged by the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The emergence of Cancon (Canadian content regulations) influenced by Skip Prokop’s historic appearance before Parliament, allowed the music of Canadians to be heard across the country. Riding the wave, Lighthouse originated the cross-Canada rock tour, playing every major and minor venue across the country. Devoted audiences from province to province took pride in seeing one of their own make it to the top.
On the advice of friend, folk legend Richie Havens, they took the demo to MGM Records in New York City. Twenty minutes later they had a record deal and a thirty thousand dollar advance. Two days later they had a manager – Vinnie Fusco from Albert Grossman’s office. Prokop and Hoffert were in heaven. Now all they had to do was put together a performing band.
Lighthouse made its live debut at Toronto’s Rock Pile on May 14, 1969, introduced by none other than Duke Ellington. They were an instant smash. Manager Vinnie Fusco brought them to New York to record their first album at the fabled Electric Ladyland Studios. They were in the middle of one of their sessions when Fusco cheerily popped in to announce that he had just signed the band to a hot deal with RCA records for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This was a bit of a shock to Prokop and Hoffert who had already signed with MGM. Fusco didn’t break a sweat as he brokered a backroom deal between the two companies. This was the sixties after all: stuff happened!