Jack London & The Sparrows

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Jack London & The Sparrows
Origin Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Genres Beat, blues rock
Years active 1964 (1964)–1965
Labels Capitol, RCA, EMI
Associated acts Steppenwolf
The Sparrows
The Mynah Birds
Past members Jack London
Dennis Edmonton
Dave Hare
Brent Maitland
Jerry Edmonton
C.J. Feeney
Bruce Palmer
Nick St. Nicholas
Art Ayre

Jack London and The Sparrows were a 1960s “Toronto British invasion” band, and are best known for including future Steppenwolf members, Jerry Edmonton, Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas and future Buffalo Springfield member, Bruce Palmer.

Early years[edit]

The original Jack London and The Sparrows line-up was formed in Oshawa, Ontario in early 1964 by British émigré Dave Marden (aka Jack London), (born February 16, 1944 in London, England), guitarist Dennis Edmonton (born Dennis McCrohan, April 21, 1943 in Oshawa, Ontario) and keyboard player Dave Hare, who later played with Everyday People.

British invasion[edit]

Jack London and The Sparrows began as a beat group and played heavily on Dave Marden’s English background. Their early repertoire reflected the influence of the “British invasion” and London even went as far as coaxing the others to “fake” English accents, in order to convince the audience that they had just arrived from England. Shortly afterwards, Dennis’ brother Jerry (born Jerry McCrohan, October 24, 1946 in Oshawa, Ontario) replaced the original drummer and Brent Maitland (stage name: Bert Enfield) joined on bass. The group began to build up a local following, playing at various venues, such as the local Jubilee Auditorium (which was owned by the Edmonton brothers’ father).

After moving to Toronto later that year, C.J. Feeney joined on organ. A short while later, Bruce Palmer (born September 9, 1946 in Toronto), who'd played in Billy Clarkson’s band replaced Maitland who went to university. This line-up signed to Capitol Records and scored a #3 hit on the RPM chart with debut single “If You Don’t Want My Love”. Palmer, however, soon tired of “affecting” an English accent and was traded for The Mynah Birds’ member, Nick St. Nicholas (born Klaus Karl Kassbaum, September 28, 1943 in Plön, Holstein, Germany) in January 1965. Around the same time, local jazz musician Art Ayre (born March 18, 1942 in Toronto) replaced Feeney, who formed a new version of his former band, The Spellbinders.

The new Jack London and The Sparrows line-up was responsible for the band’s lone album and the subsequent singles. Only “Our Love Has Passed”, however, neared the success of the debut single, reaching #7 on the RPM chart in May 1965.

By mid-1965, the group was beginning to progress beyond its early British influences and was starting to incorporate more of a North American blues-rock sound. At the same time, resentment was growing over London’s role in the band; he had signed the recording deal so that he would collect most of the group’s royalties. As a result, the band separated from London (who went solo) and recorded a final single as The Sparrows, “Hard Times With The Law”, which hit #13 on the RPM chart in August.

Aftermath[edit]

During September 1965, The Sparrows added German-born singer/songwriter and guitarist John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat, April 12, 1944, Tilsit, East Prussia) to the line-up. Art Ayre left at this point to pursue a career in jazz with The Art Ayre Trio (and later Moe Koffman) and ex-The Diplomats and former Mynah Birds keyboard player Goldy McJohn (born John Goadsby, May 2, 1945) was recruited. The band shortened its name to The Sparrow in May 1966.

After his solo career dried up, London moved into production and then became president of the Canadian Association of Real Estate Investors.

Discography[edit]

(As Jack London and The Sparrows)

  • 45 "If You Don’t Want My Love" c/w "It’s Been One Of Those Days" Today (Capitol 72203) 1964
  • 45 "I’ll Be The Boy" c/w "Dream On Dreamer" (Capitol 72210) 1965
  • 45 "Our Love Has Passed" c/w "Sparrows and Daisies" (Capitol 72229) 1965
  • 45 "Give My Love To Sally" c/w "Take It Slow" (Capitol 72249) 1965
  • LP Presenting Jack London and The Sparrows (Capitol T-6115) 1965
  • CD Jack London and The Sparrows (EMI Int'l B0000C6IB0) 2003

(As The Sparrows)

  • 45 "Hard Times With The Law" c/w "Meet Me After Four" (Capitol 72257) 1965

(Jack London)

  • 45 "Don’t Ever Change" c/w "Misery & Me" (RCA 3360) 1965

References[edit]

  • John Kay and John Einarson. Magic Carpet Ride. Kingston, ON: Quarry, 1994.
  • Nicholas Jennings. Before The Goldrush Toronto: Penguin, 1997.
  • Article on The Sparrows in The Toronto Telegram, December 30, 1965, page 8
  • The Toronto Telegram’s After Four section on Thursdays list live dates

External links[edit]