54-40 (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dave Genn, Neil Osborne and Brad Merritt at the Vancouver ShoreFest in 2009
Dave Genn, Neil Osborne and Brad Merritt at the Vancouver ShoreFest in 2009
Background information
OriginTsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada
GenresRock, alternative rock, jangle pop, roots rock[1]
Years active1980 (1980)–present
LabelsReprise, True North
Past members

54-40 (often stylized 54•40) is a Canadian rock band from Tsawwassen, British Columbia. The band take their name from the slogan "54-40 or Fight!", coined to express the successful expansionist agenda of James K. Polk's presidency, which was intent upon controlling a contested U.S.-Canada border area in the Oregon boundary dispute. 54-40 has had a successful career, with four of their albums being certified platinum in Canada. The band has been nominated for eight Juno Awards.[2] Between 1996 and 2016, 54-40 were among the top 150 best-selling Canadian artists in Canada and among the top 50 best-selling Canadian bands in Canada.[3]


Neil Osborne and Brad Merritt met in 1978 at South Delta High School in Tsawwassen, British Columbia. After studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Osborne returned home and formed the band 54-40 with Merritt and drummer Ian Franey. The band played their first gig in Coquitlam on December 8, 1980, the night John Lennon was killed. That same year, they made their first recordings for the Mo-Da-Mu label, with four tracks appearing on the independent compilation LP Things Are Still Coming Ashore, which also featured music by Vancouver bands Animal Slaves and Junco Run. In June 1982, the band released the EP Selection. Shortly after the release of Selection, Franey left the band. Franey was replaced by Darryl Neudorf and Phil Comparelli was added on guitar, trumpet and vocals. The band recorded the album Set the Fire in 1983, releasing it in 1984. Neudorf, frustrated with the band's prolonged time in the studio and away from the road, left the band in 1985. He was replaced by Matt Johnson.

The band's self-titled second album, released in 1986 through Warner/Reprise Records, began to attract attention from radio and record buyers across Canada, with the singles "Baby Ran" and "I Go Blind" gaining significant college radio airplay. Dave Osborne (keyboards, harmonica), toured and recorded with the band from 1987 to 1993. The band's third album, Show Me, became their commercial breakthrough in Canada, with the hits "One Day in Your Life" and "One Gun".

Although the band was popular on college radio in the United States, they never had a commercial breakthrough, and Warner dropped 54-40 in 1990. In 1991, the band released the compilation album, Sweeter Things. Also during that year, the band signed a deal with Sony and released Dear Dear in 1992. It was the band's first album to be certified Gold in Canada and was certified Platinum in 1993. The band released Smilin' Buddha Cabaret in 1994 and Trusted by Millions in 1996, both of which would later be certified Platinum.

The band's song "I Go Blind" was covered in the mid-1990s by American band Hootie & the Blowfish, and the cover was featured on the first soundtrack to the TV series Friends. The song also appears on two compilations released by the band: 2000's Scattered, Smothered and Covered and 2003's The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish (1993 Thru 2003). Royalties from the Hootie and the Blowfish cover enabled the band to build their own recording studio in Vancouver.

Dave Genn, formerly of Matthew Good Band, joined 54-40 in 2003. In February 2005, it was announced that Comparelli left the band due to personal reasons.[4] That same year, 54-40 signed with True North Records.

In 2010, to celebrate the band's 30 years together and almost 25 years since their first commercial album The Green Album, the band went on a promotional concert tour with a two-set act. The first set was The Green Album from start to finish. The second set was one song from every album since, with the exception of Dear Dear where they played two songs. 54-40 also performed a new song from their upcoming record, Lost in the City, which was released on June 14, 2011.[5]

In January 2016, the band released a greatest hits album titled La Difference: A History Unplugged. Tracks included "One Day In Your Life", "I Go Blind", and "Ocean Pearl". The album was released through eOne Music. The band then set out on a month-long theatre tour across Canada to support the album. In 2017 they played at Peachfest in Penticton.[6]

In 2018 54-40 performed with fiddler Daniel Lapp, both locally[7] and also as the opening band at Ottawa's CityFolk Festival.[8]

Lead singer Neil Osborne began playing shows with his daughter, singer-songwriter Kandle, billing themselves as A Family Curse, self-described as "pure folk-art worked from found objects (something old, something new)."[9] A Toronto show took place May 8, 2019[10] at the intimate and tiny 20-capacity Radical Road Brewing Co. The father-daughter duo played later that year on August 7, 2019[11] as part of Roy Thompson Hall's Live on the Patio[12] series, also in Toronto. These shows were bookended by shows in Montréal, where Kandle resides, in February[13] and August[14] 2019.

54-40 played the legendary Horseshoe Tavern's 72nd anniversary party[15] on December 6, 2019. Sam Cash, son of Toronto post-punk musician turned city politician Andrew Cash, opened the show.



  • Neil Osborne – vocals, rhythm guitar (1980–present), lead guitar (1981–1983)
  • Dave Genn – lead guitar (2003–present)
  • Brad Merrit – bass (1980–present)
  • Matt Johnson – drums (1986–present)
  • David Osborne - organ, saxophone, harmonica (2015-present)


  • Ian Franey – drums (1980–1983)
  • Phil Comparelli – lead guitar, vocals, trumpet (1983–2005)
  • Darryl Neudorf – drums (1983–1986)




Year Title Chart positions
1982 Selection


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
1984 Set the Fire
1986 54-40 91
1987 Show Me 66
1989 Fight for Love 36
1992 Dear Dear 22 Platinum
1994 Smilin' Buddha Cabaret 47 Platinum
1996 Trusted by Millions 28 Platinum
1998 Since When 18 Gold
2000 Casual Viewin' 24
2003 Goodbye Flatland
2005 Yes to Everything
2008 Northern Soul
2011 Lost in the City
2018 Keep On Walking


Year Title Peak chart positions Album

CAN Content (Cancon)
1984 "Set the Fire" Set the Fire
"What To Do Now"
"Broken Pieces"
1986 "Baby Ran" 54-40
"I Go Blind"
"I Wanna Know"
1987 "Walk In Line" Show Me
1988 "One Day in Your Life" 90
"One Gun" 30
1989 "Miss You" 50 Fight for Love
"Baby, Have Some Faith" 1
1990 "Over My Head" 1
1992 "Nice to Luv You" 30 4 Dear Dear
"She La" 38
"Music Man" 40 5
1993 "You Don't Get Away (That Easy)" 52 7
"We Are, We Pretend" 2
1994 "Blame Your Parents" 13 Smilin' Buddha Cabaret
"Assoholic" 56
"Ocean Pearl" 22
1995 "Radio Luv Song"
1996 "Love You All" 20 7 Trusted by Millions
"Lies to Me" 19 5
"Crossing a Canyon" 30
1997 "I Love Candy" 61
1998 "Since When" 11 2 Since When
"Lost and Lazy" 87 8
2000 "Casual Viewin'" 48 3 Casual Viewin
2001 "Blue Sky"
2002 "Love Rush" Radio Love Songs: The Singles Collection
"Plenty Emotion"
2003 "Animal in Pain" Goodbye Flatland
"Take Me Out"
"Wish I Knew"
2005 "Easy to Love" 10 Yes to Everything
"Golden Sun"
2008 "Snap" 47 Northern Soul
2011 "Lost in the City" Lost in the City
2014 "The Waiting" Keep On Walking
2017 "Keep On Walking"
"Sucker for Your Love"
2021 "Embassy Supreme"


Year Title Chart positions
1999 Heavy Mellow


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
1981 Things Are Still Coming Ashore - -
1991 Sweeter Things: A Compilation 39 Platinum
1997 Sound of Truth: The Independent Collection - -
2001 Casual Viewin' USA - -
2002 Radio Love Songs: The Singles Collection 48 -
2005 The Essentials - -
2016 LA Difference: A History Unplugged - -


  • 2006 – This Is Here This Is Now


  1. ^ Damas, Jason. "54-40 - Casual Viewin' USA Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  2. ^ "PAST NOMINEES + WINNERS". junoawards.ca. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  3. ^ "NIELSEN MUSIC & BILLBOARD PRESENT CANADA 150 CHARTS" (PDF). bdsradio.com. p. 28. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  4. ^ "54-40 Guitarist To Be Replaced By Former Matthew Good Ax-Man". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on March 6, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ "The Official Website of 54•40 – 54•40 Canada's Band". 5440.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  6. ^ "54-40 rocks the fest". Penticton Western News, Aug. 11, 2017
  7. ^ "54-40 pull all the right strings". Paul Dwyer, March 22, 2018
  8. ^ "CityFolk review: 54-40 puts a tasty new spin on its old hits". Ottawa Citizen, Lynn Saxberg, September 14, 2018
  9. ^ "Yvonne Matsell presents an evening with A Family Curse". EventBrite. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  10. ^ "Yvonne Matsell presents an evening with A Family Curse". EventBrite. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  11. ^ "A Family Curse - Roy Thompson Hall". Roy Thompson Hall. Archived from the original on 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  12. ^ "Neil (54-40) and Kandle Osborne at Roy Thompson Hall patio". Toronto.com. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  13. ^ "Kandle & Neil Osborne present A Family Curse". Le Point de Vente. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  14. ^ "A Family Curse (Kandle & Neil Osborne) in Montreal". Eventful Montreal. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  15. ^ "The Horseshoe Tavern's 72nd Birthday Celebration". Legendary Horseshoe Tavern calendar. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  16. ^ Peak positions for 54-40's albums in Canada:
  17. ^ a b "Gold/Platinum". Music Canada. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  18. ^ Peak positions for 54-40's singles on Singles Chart:
  19. ^ Peak positions for 54-40's singles on Rock/Alternative Chart:
  20. ^ Peak positions for 54-40's singles on Canadian Content Chart:
  21. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 55, No. 3, December 21, 1991". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2010-09-29.

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