Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its talents in the arts and entertainment world.
The singers, artists, actors and comedians are all mainstays of their respective genres locally, nationally and worldwide.
But did you realize the influence this province has had on rock ’n’ roll music?
If you say the name Brian MacLeod, does anyone recognize that name and the iconic band he was a huge part of?
MacLeod, commonly referred to as this province’s first rock star, was a member of Chilliwack and instrumental in all of that band’s biggest hits prior to his tragic death from cancer in 1992 at age 39.
In addition, he went on to form the Headpins as a side project, which propelled Darby Mills to stardom.
He is one of hundreds of artists and bands who came to prominence in the baby boomer generation in the late 1950s and continued to rock out into the late 1970s and into present-day venues.
To help remember that history, and the names of so many bands, singers and musicians, the N.L. Rock and Pioneers Committee 2015 has been holding the annual Rock & Roll Pioneers Tribute Jam at the Old Mill on Brookfield Road in St. John’s, where they bring together many members of those iconic groups for performances.
The idea is two-fold: having musicians and old bands reunite to help entertain the baby boomer generation; and to draw attention to the need for some form of hall of fame for this province where residents can go and see who paved the way for the rock bands of today.
The committee working on the project formed in 2015. It includes Greg Dodd (Art Haynes Combo and Variety) and Wayne Sturge (Aquarius and Borealis) along with Reg House (Reg & The Rebels), Bill Sharpe (Foxy and Billy & The Bruisers) and Ted Doyle (7 Years Later).
“There is so much good music that was done here in that era — 1950s,’60s and ’70s — we want to find a place, a walk of fame, a wall of fame, somewhere residents of the province can go and remember what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians did in that era,’’ Dodd said.
“Secondly, we are getting older and if we don’t do this, who will? If we let it go, perhaps all the work and information we have may be lost. That makes this project an important one for us as a committee, but also for the music fans of this province,’’ he added.
All of the planning is in the preliminary stages, but the men want to see if there is an appetite out there for a project like this.
If the attendance at the first two jams are any indication, there is, as they have experienced full houses both years, reaching a multitude of fans, and have showcased 18 bands and more than 90 musicians from those bands from that era.
“It is great to just let them know what we are doing and even if they don’t want to play, just come by and get together with people you may not have seen in a long, long time,’’ Sturge said.
“The Mill was a great spot for all of us back in the day and it is nice that we can still be part of this great venue today, play some music and share memories with each other and the fans,’’ he added.
Sturge is also a historian and has been collecting music memorabilia relating to the early Newfoundland rock ’n’ roll scene for many years.
That work led to the release of a CD/DVD entitled “Rock & Roll Comes to Newfoundland & Labrador: An Archive by Greg Dodd and Wayne Sturge.” It was released on Dec. 8, 2007 and was a joint project of Dodd, Sturge and Mack Barfoot.
It is an excellent resource for rock aficionados and Newfoundland music history buffs, and a walk down memory lane for many more who want to recount their youth from the heydays of the musical ’50s through ’70s.
The Jam will be held at the Old Mill on Brookfield Road in St. John’s on Sunday at 2 p.m. in support of the project that will help citizens remember bands from the 1950’s,’60s and ’70s.
Doors open at 1 p.m. and admission is a donation of your choice.