Entertainment Features

STAMPEDERS Retun for One More Time Tour

STAMPEDERS Retun for One More Time Tour

By David DeRocco                            dave@gobeweekly.com  https://twitter.com/?lang=en 

For fans of classic rock, there are dark days ahead. Most of the seminal bands from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the 90s, are aging out. Every year there seems to be a major loss of one of our favourite artists. Recently, Canada lost Ronnie King, bassist for international hitmakers THE STAMPEDERS – creators of such legendary Canadian radio staples as “Carry Me,” “Wild Eyes,” “Mondy Morning Choo Choo,” and their chart-topping million seller, “Sweet City Woman.”

To honour their lost comrade, The Stampeders are launching their One More Time tour, fulfilling a promise they made to Ronnie to carry on. The tour comes to St. Catharines First Ontario PAC April 8th. Founding member Rich Dodson took time to chat with GOBE WEEKLY about the band’s legacy, their place in the Top 5 list of great Canadian rock bands, and the joys of still playing.

GOBE: One More Time Tour…fitting given the recent passing of bassist Ronnie King. Speak a little about not only his contribution as a bandmate but also a friend.

RICH: He was a brother. We were together for such a long time. It was a great relationship. I’m definitely going to miss my old buddy. My God, we’re getting on.

GOBE: Sadly, it’s true. I watched the JUNO AWARDS last night and I don’t think I knew more than 4 artists.

RICH: Yea, same for me. I skipped through a bit of it. Looked like a good show. I’m not too sure who the acts were, it’s a whole new scene.

GOBE: You’re back in St. Catharines April 8th, on a tour that has you doing more than 30 dates from April 5 through May 16.   You’ve been touring for over 50 years, which requires immense physical and emotional buy in. Where will you channel those things after you play your last gig.

RICH: Well, you just have to go up and go for. It’s a challenge to go up and do this. We look forward to it. The fans are great. It’s that buzz you get from a live gig, you just can’t get that anywhere else. The touring has always been a highlight of the whole business.

GOBE: Most of those dates are in Ontario. Is there a luxury you afford yourself while on the road that’s maybe a little different that you had in the early days.

RICH: We have a really good sound crew. There’s continuity every night. The drives aren’t too long. I love driving around Ontario. We drive it in some mini-vans and a Suburban. The family comes along so we’ve got wife and daughter, son-in-law. They all chip in and do merchandise. It’s kind of a family affair, a family outing. It’s in no way drudgery. The hard part is getting up there and screaming your heads off for 90 minutes. We’re going to celebrate Ronnie King’s life with the Stampeders.

GOBE: Do you have any plans for an epic LAST WALTZ type show surrounded by friends family and a cast of musicians?

RICH: I thought I did that five years ago (laughs). You don’t know what’s going to be handed to you. Maybe it is the Last Waltz. Who knows. Ronnie was looking forward to this tour, so there you go. If the health holds out, I like doing the tours. That’s the big thing.

GOBE: It must be fun at this stage. In the beginning you’re trying to establish fans, grow and audience, recording, write, fight with the label.

RICH: We don’t take ourselves all that seriously now. If it’s not an enjoyable, fun experience, it’s not worth doing. I’m sure it’s the same for the audience.

GOBE: You can certainly take yourself seriously considering the awards you’ve won. SOCAN award for Lifetime Achievement, induction into the SOCAN Songwriters Hall of Fame on five occasions, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame for the hit Sweet City Woman, along with a handful of JUNO Awards. What do those industry acknowledgements mean to you now you’re closer to the end of your touring and recording days.

RICH: Nothing! (laughs). I mean, it’s always getting recognition from your peers. They’re all just a great excuse for a party.

GOBE: There must be some joy. I’m a writer, I like it when people read my work. As a songwriter, you must hold the induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in some regard.

RICH: That was a good one, absolutely. We’re in a few Halls of Fame. No walks of fame yet. I’m pretty full up on fame at the moment, I’ve got a lot of it. I don’t know how much more I need.

GOBE: I know you guys are stereotypical humble Canadians, but let’s get real. Let’s put Anne Murray, Justin Bieber, Drake and Celine aside. If you had to put together a Top 5 Canadian rock band list , would you include The Stampeders?

RICH: Gosh, I think so. Sure, why not. There’s so many great bands, Rush, The Guess Who. So many great artists. And you go south of the border today, there’s so many Canadians. Turn on the Grammys, it’s all Canadians. What an impact this country has had on the music scene around the planet.

GOBE: And your band is one of those foundational building blocks.

RICH: Exactly. And they’re mostly from Mississauga (laughs)

GOBE: What’s in the water there?

RICH: I don’t know. But it’s been a great run, a great life. I have no regrets. And to still be doing this, amazing.

GOBE:   You’re on tour, you’ve played these songs a million times. Which ones still inspire the greatest joy or appreciation to play.

RICH: Well I still enjoy “Sweet City Woman,” absolutely. “Wild Eyes,” “Johnny Lightning,” they’re all fun to do. It’s just getting that vocal fired up. It’s a lot of dates.

GOBE: Once this leg is over, are you continuing through the summer.

RICH: We have a couple dates in August and I think that’s it. That’s enough playing for this year. If there’s more touring, it may be in 2025. The theatre tours are fun.

GOBE: I just finished reading Geddy Lee’s book. It was a great read, talking about those early days when they thought they were done, and no one cared, and then they faltered with Caress of Steel. But they persevered and continued to believe. What drove your band in the early years. Did you have someone who fully believed in the band?

RICH: We had an amazing manager, Mel Shaw. He really thought big picture and helped us believe in ourselves. We were a bunch of brothers. We just kept going. You have to believe in yourselves through the ups and downs. Obviously, a big part of it. We’ve had a lot more ups than downs. It’s been a great run.

GOBE: At some point there must have been a moment in those early days where you got a residual cheque, or sold a million records, where you went, oh my God, we’re making a living.

RICH: I guess after the first bunch of records and with “Sweet City Woman” we started to get some cheques where I went, wow, maybe it would be a good idea to buy a house. That was a good move. You never get into this game for the money. If things are working in the right direction the money comes. Never really the driving force, and that’s how it should be. You have to watch your numbers, take care of business as Randy said. Don’t waste it if you get it.

GOBE: For the show in St. Catharines, what would you like to say to fans as an invitation to come out.

RICH: I invite you all. We like having a great time with the fans. We’ll have some great Ronnie King stories. We have a great new bass player. It’s going to be fun. We’re looking forward to it.


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