The Revols

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The Revols
Also known as The Rockin' Revols
Origin Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Genres Rock and roll
Years active 1957–1962
Associated acts Ronnie Hawkins, The Fab Four, Plum Loco, Reload, The Pencils
Past members Richard Manuel
John Till
Ken Kalmusky
Doug Rhodes
Jim Winkler
Garth Picot

The Revols were a Canadian band from Stratford, Ontario, Canada, formed in 1957, with Richard Manuel on piano and vocals, John Till on guitar, Ken Kalmusky on bass, Doug Rhodes on vocals and Jim Winkler on Drums. Fourteen- and fifteen-year-old kids at the time, they were shortly adopted by Ronnie Hawkins, and together, and individually, paved international music history in the years to come.

Early career[edit]

The band started in 1957, in Kalmusky's parents' basement, on Queen St. in Stratford. They performed the very first songs Manuel wrote, and were invited into the studio to record "My Eternal Love", Richard Manuel's first original.

As The Revols gained popularity in the Ontario area, one of their first gigs was opening for Ronnie Hawkins in Port Dover, Ontario. According to Levon Helm's book This Wheel's on Fire, on page 87, the next time Ronnie Hawkins came to Stratford, The Revols were on the bill, "following" Hawkins.

When The Revols came on, Richard sang Ray Charles's "Georgia On My Mind", and brought the house down. That did it, as far as The Hawk was concerned, rather than compete with The Revols, He hired em.

Levon Helm, This Wheel's on Fire

Till, 15 at the time, was reluctant to quit school and was replaced by Garth Picot of Goderich. David "Dave Mickie" Marsden, another Stratford native, joined as the band's manager. The Revols, working for Hawkins, went to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and played a house gig at Hawkins' club.

The Fab Four[edit]

By the end of 1961, The Revols returned to Stratford. Manuel remained with Hawkins, until joining Levon And The Hawks in 1964, while Kalmusky re-united with Till to form The Fab Four, the "Original" Fab Four, at the top of 1962.

The Fab Four had their own weekly television show on CHCH-TV. On April 25, 1965, when they opened for The Rolling Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, The Toronto Star put The Fab Four's picture in the ad, and not The Rolling Stones. Kalmusky stated in an interview with Stratford's The Beacon Herald, "They thought we were The Beatles, girls were diving at the car, piling on, as we were driving out of the stadium". In fact, the picture the Toronto Star ran (see photo to right) did in fact look a whole lot like the Beatles. It is speculated that The Beatles nickname became "The Fab Four", after this event. Some authors, and articles, over the last few decades, have cited this story, referencing the parallels, stating "Could 5 boys from Stratford, Ontario really influence the nickname of the Beatles?"[citation needed]

By 1966, Till and Kalmusky paralleled the same move Manuel had made after their trip to Arkansas, leaving The Revols, The Fab Four, and Stratford behind, to be full-time "Hawks" in Hawkins' band.

Hawkins' band was famously "picked clean" by Albert Grossman, manager for Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Ian & Sylvia. The first of the former Revols to be plucked out was Manuel, by Dylan, who later formed famous roots rock band, The Band. The second to be plucked out by Grossman, was Kalmusky, who subsequently ended up playing bass with Ian & Sylvia's group, Great Speckled Bird, Todd Rundgren, Jerry Reed, and others. Lastly, in 1969, the Summer of Love, John Till joined Janis Joplin's Kosmic Blues Band, and in 1970, stayed on to become a member of what ended up becoming Joplin's last band, The Full Tilt Boogie Band, and recorded the album Pearl, her last record. Two of the original Revols, Richard Manuel and John Till performed at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, Manuel with The Band, and Till with Janis Joplin's Kosmic Blues Band.


In 1984, three original members of The Revols, Kalmusky, Manuel and Till, re-united at The Stratford Shakespearean Festival Theatre as The Revols. Opening for The Band at two sold out "The Band/Revols Reunion Shows". Not long after that, Till, Kalmusky, Levon Helm, and Donald 'Philbert' Manuel were seen on the cover of People magazine, carrying Richard Manuel's casket out of the funeral service, after his death on March 4, 1986.

Later developments[edit]

Two of the original Revols, Till, with Joplin, and Manuel, with The Band, can be seen in the 2004 film, Festival Express.

Recently,[when?] the original Revols' reel to reel recording from 1958 of Richard Manuel's first original song ever written, "Eternal Love", was taken to famous Toronto engineer / producer, Peter J. Moore (Bruce Cockburn, The Cowboy Junkies) where it was re-mastered, and is slated to come out on a Capitol Records forthcoming box set Levon and The Hawks *The early years*.

The Revols have been noted in People magazine, written about extensively in Levon Helm's novel This Wheel's on Fire, Nicholas Jennings' Before The Gold Rush, and Barney Hoskyns' Across the Great Divide.

On August 4, 2008, the City Of Stratford dedicated a band shell in Upper Queen's Park to The Revols. A ceremony, erecting a plaque that bears the band's name, and its Stratford residents, Ken Kalmusky, Richard Manuel, John Till, Doug Rhodes, Jimmy Winkler, Garth Picot, & David "Dave Mickie" Marsden was unveiled at 12:30pm August 4, 2008. Followed by a concert by Plum Loco, (Kalmusky & Till's band), followed by Ronnie Hawkins.

Photo gallery[edit]