Starchild (band)

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Starchild
IMG starchild.jpg
Background information
Origin Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Genres Hard rock, progressive rock
Years active 1975–1982
Labels Axe / London
Associated acts Helix

Starchild was a Canadian progressive rock band that released an LP record called Children of the Stars on the Toronto based Axe label in 1978, followed by a single “No Control for Rock-n-Roll” " a few years later. Both records are quite rare and collectible.

The original line-up consisted of Rick Whittier (vocals), Bob Sprenger (guitars), Neil Light (bass), and Greg "Fritz" Hinz (drums). Hinz later joined Canadian rockers Helix[1] and was replaced by Dixie Lee, formerly drummer of British rockers Lone Star, who was coming off a stint playing in Ozzy Osbourne's first solo project.

History[edit]

Starchild was formed in 1975 in Cambridge, Ontario when Bob Sprenger, Rick Whittier, and Neil Light, who played in a steady gigging band called Gaslight, decided to reform as a heavier rock band. The name of the band came from the Starchild Trilogy written by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. Most of the band members were huge science fiction fans, and when the band's producer Greg Hambleton (who also signed Steel River to his Tuesday label) wanted something more futuristic sounding than the previous name, Thorne, the name change to Starchild was unanimous. After going through a few different drummers, they hired Greg "Fritz" Hinz and hit the road full time.

Starchild poster.jpg

The band's first recording was a 2 song demo ("Party of the Toads" and "Tough Situation") produced and engineered by a young Daniel Lanois in his mother's basement in Ancaster in 1976. Lanois went on to produce U2, Peter Gabriel, and Brian Eno among others.

Children of the Stars was recorded in Toronto in the autumn of 1977 and released in the spring of 1978. The band opened for fellow Canadian rockers Triumph, Goddo, and Moxy as well as others.

The album received moderate airplay across the country after release, mostly as promotion for the band's live appearances. Due to the fact there were no radio friendly commercial songs released as a charted single, it didn't chart. Being a very progressive rock style (influenced by other Canadian acts like Rush and Saga) in an age of disco and new wave music was detrimental as well.

Neil Light left the band for family reasons in 1979 and was replaced by Bill Mair and later Toronto native Wayne Brown. Fritz left to join Helix a few months later and was replaced by Dixie Lee. Starchild continued to tour across Canada, and although the band never made it to Europe, their records sold better there than they did in Canada. The single “No Control for Rock-n-Roll” was covered by a band from the Netherlands in the 1980s.

In early 1982, the band went into Metalworks Studios owned and operated by Triumph's Gil Moore, and recorded a two song demo ("Steamroller Rock", "I Need A Woman Tonight") to shop for a new record label. Their contract with Axe records was mutually ended because the label wanted the band to change their look & music style to the new wave trend that was becoming popular due to the success of bands like The Knack. The band however wanted no part of that and decided to go in more of a heavy metal direction, influenced by bands like Judas Priest & Iron Maiden.

Toronto-based Attic Records were interested in signing the band but road fatigue took its toll, and Starchild split up in the summer of 1982 just before its Toronto audition for Attic. In the seven years between formation and breakup in 1982, Starchild toured across Canada constantly.[2]

Bob Sprenger & Neil Light formed the band Thief in the Night in 1985, opening for Trooper & Platinum Blonde and others before disbanding in '90.

IMG Starchild2.jpg

Sprenger recorded two CDs with power trio Distant Thunder in the early 90's & reunited with original Starchild bass player Neil Light to form the classic rock cover band Wake the Giants in 2001. With Canadian comedian Ron Pardo (History Bites) on drums and his brother Jason on lead vocals as well as new bass player Sam Barber (who replaced Light in 2011) the band does mostly covers including material from the Children of the Stars LP and still performs on a regular basis as of 2012. Sprenger is also the lead guitarist for a vocalist/keyboardist from London Ontario named Kathryn Marquis. They recorded & released a live CD called "Your Kingdom Come" in 2011 and recently recorded more new material which will be released on CD in the near future.[2]

Members[edit]

  • Vocals - Rick Whittier
  • Guitars - Bob Sprenger
  • Bass guitar - Neil Light, Bill Mair, Wayne Brown
  • Drums - Bill Coutts, Greg "Fritz" Hinz, Dixie Lee

Discography[edit]

To date, the Starchild discography is yet to be reissued on compact disc or digitally.

Demos[edit]

  • "Party of the Toads" / "Tough Situation" (1976, produced by Daniel Lanois)
  • "Steamroller Rock" / "I Need A Woman Tonight" / "Teaser" (1982)

Album[edit]

  • Children of the Stars (1978, Axe Records distributed by London Records of Canada)

Single[edit]

  • "No Control for Rock-N-Roll" b/w "Detroit Rocker" (1981, Tuesday Records)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vollmer, Brian (2004). Gimme An R! the story of Brian Vollmer, lead vocalist of Helix. Ball Media Corporation. ISBN 0-9739849-0-2. 
  2. ^ a b Wake The Giants: Bob Sprenger, lead guitar