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(Note: an interview is still forthcoming with Glen Hendrickson, as is the acquisition of more artwork and photographs, so please check back periodically for ongoing updates. DG)



More remarkable than the local success the United Empire Loyalists enjoyed during their brief career between 1965 and 1970 is the fact that until recently their entire recorded output didn't extend past an independently- produced single of Willie Cobb's 'No No No (You Don't Love Me)' backed with an original composition, 'Afraid Of The Dark', of which fewer than 500 were ever pressed. Fortunately, the 'No No No' single was eventually re-released in 1983 on the Vancouver Record Collectors Association's compilation The History Of Vancouver Rock & Roll Vol.3: Fourth Avenue Days; and, in 1998, the remainder of The Loyalists' recorded heritage was released on the independent C.D. Notes From The Underground.

But in their heyday, The United Empire Loyalists were one of the most visible, talented, and happening bands in Vancouver's already impressive musical community.

The Loyalists' beginnings, however, were as inauspicious as any of the clutch of teenaged bands that formed in the wake of the British Invasion; starting off as (wait for it...) The Molesters, the group comprised Anton 'Tom' Kolstee on lead guitar, Jeff Ridley on rhythm guitar, Bruce Dowd on bass, and Richard Cruickshank on drums, with Mike Trew singing and playing organ. True to the rough-edged nature of a port city such as Vancouver and consistent with the general Northwest sound that was evolving in Seattle and Portland in the early 1960s, The Molesters tastes gravitated towards the more aggressive sound of bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Kingsmen.

"When we started out, we were playing a lot of Rolling Stones material because The Beatles were a little too polished and difficult to play. It also appealed to us because it was raw" notes Jeff Ridley today, and Richard Cruickshank is more succinct on the matter: "We were doing Rolling Stones covers because they had this ballsy, gutsy sound - really manly."

The nascent band's stint as The Molesters was fortunately short-lived; early in 1966 a gig opening for The Tom Northcott Trio at The Pender Auditorium (courtesy of their manager, Anton Kolstee's friend Jerry Kruz) implied that a new name might be in everybody's best interest. Richard Cruickshank admits that the name The Molesters was becoming at bit ludicrous at that point anyways: "It was funny being called The Molesters, because here we were being taken to gigs by our mothers as we weren't even old enough to drive yet!"

The name the United Empire Loyalists was arrived at by Anton Kolstee, who wrote about it in the liner to Notes From the Underground: "I was in Grade 11 Social Studies and studying Canadian history... in order to get a more respectable and 'hipper' name onto the Art Nouveau poster that was to advertise the concert at the Pender Auditorium, we had to choose a name quickly. I submitted the name The United Empire Loyalists and it was accepted by all."

The now-rechristened Loyalists began to realize that they could make a more serious go of music than the circuit of Battles Of The Bands at the P.N.E., especially with the number of respectable gigs coming in courtesy of being managed by the proprietor of the hippest club in town. Aside from the professional step of acquiring matching Mod Union Jack jackets at a head shop on 4th Avenue, the musical core of the group also began to realize that Mike Trew wasn't cutting it as a singer. However, the band took the ill-advised step of firing Trew before a suitable replacement could be found - and indeed, their ex-singer promptly turned around and sued The Loyalists. (The band settled out-of-court on the advice of a lawyer, although what Trew expected to sue for from a band that wasn't signed and didn't even have an original repertoire is anyone's guess.)

A beatnik friend of the band's named John Lome filled in for a number of practices, imparting at least one piece of advice during his brief stint as a United Empire Loyalist: "He'd come out from Toronto, and was a kind of Jack Kerouac figure with dark glasses and a beret and was a little bit older than us" says Richard, "and he was singing a bit and telling us how to do things. I distinctly remember once when I was saying 'well I'm trying to get it just like it is on the record', him going 'No, no, no - don't do it just like the record. That's what's important is to do it with your own approach.'"

The band's influences were also broadening to include the range of new sounds they were hearing on Vancouver's new FM radio stations, CFUN and CKLG; their love of The Rolling Stones had already introduced them to the blues, and now there was a new wave of blues acts from the United States coming over the stereo airwaves in the form of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, as well as the emerging San Francisco sound evidenced by The Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & the Holding Company.

Next: The Loyalists acquire a new member, and raise their local profile when The Grateful Dead visit Vancouver...



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