Doug and the Slugs

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Doug and the Slugs
Background information
Origin Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genres Pop
Years active 1977 (1977)–2004 (2004)
2009–present
Labels A&M
RCA
Website dougandtheslugs.ca
Members Ted Okos
Rick Baker
John Burton
Simon Kendall
Steve Bosley
John "Wally" Watson
Past members Doug Bennett

Doug and the Slugs are a Canadian pop music group formed in 1977 in Vancouver. They are best remembered for the Canadian top 40 hits "Too Bad" (1980), "Making It Work" (1983) and "Tomcat Prowl" (1988). "Too Bad" was used as the theme song for The Norm Show, a 1999-2001 sitcom starring Norm Macdonald.[1]

Band history[edit]

Doug and the Slugs was founded by Toronto-born Doug Bennett,[2] who had been a graphic designer in his home town before moving to Vancouver in the mid-1970s. Bennett served as the band's chief songwriter, frontman, and lead singer. Keyboardist Simon Kendall described Bennett's writing style: "He had some unique and very interesting lyrics. An anachronistic style, if you like. He was a bit of R&B, he was a bit 1940s, he was a bit Tex-Mex. As a writer, I think he deserves more credit than he gets for being intelligent. He wrote some beautiful and quite provocative songs."[3]

After some turnover amongst Slugs in the early months, the lineup stabilized by 1978, and for the entirety of their recording career (1978–1992), Doug & the Slugs consisted of lead vocalist Doug Bennett, guitarists Richard Baker and John Burton, keyboardist Simon Kendall, bassist Steve Bosley, and drummer John "Wally" Watson.[1] Doug and the Slugs had trouble getting club owners to book them due to their name. They entered a battle of the bands in Vancouver at the Body Shop, but lost.[4] Hardly discouraged, the enterprising Bennett formed an underground following of dedicated fans by promoting his own dances at booked community halls (most notably the Commodore Ballroom) in Vancouver, and giving these dances hilarious names like "Beach Blanket Bungle," "Secret Agent Man," and "The Last Upper."[5] These Dances became hot ticket items due to their guaranteed-good-time status[6] during 1978-1979.[7] Doug and the Slugs also put on an annual outdoor dance festival known as "Slugfest."[8]

The band built a solid following in the Vancouver area through constant live performances. Determined to exert control over their own music and artwork, the band founded their own record label, Ritdong Records, and worked out a distribution deal with RCA Records for their recordings (Bennett chose the name "Ritdong" because he described it as the sound produced by an out of tune guitar[9]). Their debut 45 single "Too Bad" was issued on Ritdong in February 1980, and became a substantial hit in Vancouver, rising to #2 on local Top 40 station CKLG. Shortly thereafter, the track entered the Canadian hit parade, becoming a top ten hit.[10] That year, Doug & The Slugs' manager, Sam Feldman mortgaged his house to make The Slugs debut album, Cognac & Bologna,[11] was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario.

Throughout the 1980s, a string of singles and albums followed. Their biggest success was 1982's Music For The Hard Of Thinking, which in Canada peaked at #22, and spun off two top 40 singles: "Who Knows How To Make Love Stay" and "Making It Work". However, the band didn't break through internationally, and RCA ended their distribution deal with Ritdong in 1984, after the release of the best-of compilation Ten Big Ones.

Ritdong then entered into a distribution deal with A&M Records. Two Doug & The Slugs albums were issued via this deal (1984's Popaganda and 1988's Tomcat Prowl), as well as a Doug Bennett solo album (1986's Animato, on which all the Slugs played). The 1988 single "Tomcat Prowl" became the band's final top 40 entry, peaking at #23.

Ritdong's deal with A&M expired after Tomcat Prowl, and the group didn't record for several years. Doug & The Slugs' final album (1992's Tales From Terminal City) came out on their own Tomcat Records label. It is the only Doug & The Slugs album not to have hit the Canadian charts.

Most of the Slugs left the band after 1992, although Kendall stayed until 1994. After this time, Bennett toured with an ever-rotating cast of new musicians, still billing their act as Doug & the Slugs. The original Slugs reunited to back Doug for two "25th anniversary" shows in Vancouver in 2003.

Bennett acknowledged the fact that he was a heavy drinker, and eventually all of the years of playing bars and heavy drinking onstage compromised his health. He succumbed to liver cirrhosis[12] after falling into a coma in October 2004, passing through Calgary from Saskatchewan.[13][14] Kendall remarked that Bennett "hadn't been looking after himself. His health [had] not been good for the last couple of years, so it wasn't a total surprise. But nobody realized how sick he was.".[15]

After a gap of several years, the original Slugs (Baker, Bosley, Burton, Kendall, and Watson) reunited in 2009 and invited singer Ted Okos to be their new frontman. The group still performs live dates as Doug & the Slugs, although now none of them is named Doug.

Band member timeline[edit]

The initial band members were (based on available information):

Dennis Henderson retired from being a high school electronics teacher at Hugh McRoberts Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. He now teaches guitar at Hillcrest and Killarney Community Centres. He performs original roots based folk music with his long time partner, Barb Fraser, as "Fraser/Henderson". Their web site is fraser-henderson.com

In Season 3, Episode 11: It's Backwards Day of Da Vinci's Inquest Simon Kendall is heard playing his beautiful composition Hymn For Believers from his CD Sweet Compassion as the episode closes and continuing on in place of the customary Da Vinci ending theme. It is a very moving and very effective use of the piece.

Other performers with the band (timelines unknown):

  • drums
    • Vince Ditrich
    • Larry MacGillvary
    • Pat Steward
  • guitar
    • John Ellis
    • Elio Martelli
    • Al Rodger
  • keyboards
    • Darrell Havers
  • saxophone

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Release date Title Chart positions
Canada
RPM TOP 100
Album
1980 "Too Bad" #20 Cognac and Bologna
1980 "Chinatown Calculation" #75
1980 "Drifting Away" -
1981 "Real Enough" - Wrap It!
1981 The Slugs:
"Running Around"
- Non-LP single
1983 "Who Knows How to Make Love Stay" #25 Music for the Hard of Thinking
1983 "Making It Work" #29
1983 "Nobody but Me" -
1984 "It's Alright Medley" - Ten Big Ones
1984 "Day by Day" #92 Popaganda
1984 "Love Shines" -
1984 "Waiting for You" #83
1985 "White Christmas" - Non-LP single
1986 Doug Bennett:
"It's Got to Be Monday"
#80 Animato
1988 "Tomcat Prowl" #23 Tomcat Prowl
1989 "(I Don't Want To) Walk Away" #84
1989 "It's a Powerful Thing" #64
1992 "Terminal City" - Tales from Terminal City

Studio albums[edit]

Release date Title Chart positions
Canada
RPM Album charts
1980 Cognac and Bologna #36
1981 Wrap It! #28
1982 Music for the Hard of Thinking #22
1984 Popaganda #43
1986 Doug Bennett:
Animato
#95
1988 Tomcat Prowl #39
1992 Tales from Terminal City -

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 1984: Ten Big Ones
  • 1987: Doug and the Slugs (U.S. release only)
  • 1993: Slugcology 101

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 1981: multiple nominee, Juno Award:
    • Composer of the Year, "Too Bad"
    • Best Album Graphics, Cognac and Bologna
    • Single of the Year, "Too Bad"
  • 1983: nominee, Juno Award, Most Promising Group of the Year

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Doug and the Slugs". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  2. ^ "Lead singer for Doug and the Slugs dies". CBC News. 18 October 2004. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  3. ^ Mackie, John (October 19, 2004). "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ Mackie, John. "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Google Groups. Vancouver Sun. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ Mackie, John. "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Google Groups. Vancouver Sun. 
  6. ^ Dr. Buie, K. M. (June 9, 2014). Personal Interview.
  7. ^ Mackie, John. "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Google Groups. Vancouver Sun. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Google Groups. Google Groups. Retrieved June 9, 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  9. ^ Mackie, John (October 19, 2004). "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann Suit". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ Mackie, John (October 19, 2004). "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann Suit". Vancouver Sun. 
  11. ^ Mackie, John (October 19, 2004). "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Vancouver Sun. 
  12. ^ Dr. Buie, W. D. (June 9, 2014). Personal Interview.
  13. ^ Dr. Buie, W. D. (June 9, 2014)_. Personal Interview.
  14. ^ Varty, Alexander (21 October 2004). "Wacky Bennett Created Beauty". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  15. ^ Mackie, John (October 19, 2014). "Canada's improbable rock star: Toronto-born singer-songwriter Doug Bennett an Everyman in a Sally Ann suit". Vancouver Sun. 

External links[edit]