08 Jun REFLECTIONS ON BOBBY CURTOLA
We awake this morning to a fierce westerly wind belting out of the desert sands. It followed on the previous day’s high pressure storm swell which tore into Moreton Bay over the weekend, depositing some 200 mms of rain on neighboring mountain tops.
And then came from Canada the news of the passing of Bobby Curtola,
A man who played a very positive harbinger role in my life, drawing me to cross the planet to Canada from the plains of outback North West New South Wales. It was Bobby – along with the Beaumarks and their dream 1960 hit Clap Your Hands – that first lured me out of the antipodean slumber which is and was Australia in that period. Clap Your Hands and Fortune Teller, two Cancon classics before Cancon could! How could I have known way back then?
Their music was a true reflection of the carefree Canadian culture which pervaded the early ’60s. The essence of that music continued to light up the gallivanting and gleeful melodies of Gordon Lightfoot.
Arriving in the GTA from London in early July 1967, wife and I deposited ourselves in a late 19th C. boarding house on Sherbourne just north of Carlton which we would make our central base for the coming week. Or at least until we tracked down digs at Westmoreland, up on from Bloor and Dovercourt. On the upper floor of a duplex owned by a German immigrant who crushed his grapes every Autumn and bottled the residues. Kept a bottle or two of his brew for a year or three.
Quoting from my subsequent book Axes, Chops & Hot Licks (The Canadian Rock Music Scene) (published 1971 by Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton) : “Unable to obtain U.S. Because of archaic
Australian-U.S. Immigration agreements, we settled on Toronto, Canada.
“We knew no one in Canada, and my only exposure to Canadian music had been a Bobby Curtola record called Fortune Teller … plus a couple of stories I’d read in the English music press abut the Guess Who, who had made a promo trip to London to plug His Girl.
“We left on a rare sunny morning in London and arrived in the midst of a roaring July thunderstorm in Toronto.”
I bumped into Mr Curtola over the years, penned the odd portrayal of his then current activities, kept on admiring Fortune Teller which the West Coast hit picker Red Robinson, among others, had given the golden nod in the chart fields of BC.
I had always admired the man and his music. You didn’t need to summon a Fortune Teller to get the lowdown on Bobby Curtola.