Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

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Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
Background information
OriginHamilton, Ontario, Canada
GenresFolk rock, alternative country
Years active1996 (1996)–present
LabelsTrue North, File Under: Music, High Or Hurtin Records
MembersStephen Fearing
Colin Linden
Tom Wilson
Accompanied By:
John Dymond (Bass)
Gary Craig (Drums)
John Whynot (Keyboards)
Past membersRichard Bell (Keyboards)

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are a Canadian folk rockalternative country band with blues and country influences. The band was formed in 1996, in Hamilton, Ontario, by Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing, and Colin Linden.[1]


Early Period: 1990s[edit]

Tom Wilson (former lead singer of Junkhouse and Tom Wilson & the Florida Razors), solo artist Stephen Fearing, and guitarist and producer Colin Linden started Blackie and the Rodeo Kings as a tribute to one of their favorite Canadian folk artists, the singer-songwriter Willie P. Bennett.[2] Their name was taken from Bennett's 1978 album Blackie and the Rodeo King.[1] What started as a side project soon turned into a full-fledged band after their first album, High or Hurtin': The Songs of Willie P. Bennett, was a critical success and popular with fans of both Bennett and each individual artist.[3] Blackie and the Rodeo Kings have released numerous full-length studio albums and received many awards and nominations. In 1999, the band recorded Kings of Love,[1] which received a Juno Award for Best Roots & Traditional Album – Group in 2000.[4]

The band originally performed at such venues as the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec.[citation needed]


In 2003, the band recorded Bark. Kings of Love and Bark still had cover versions of Bennett's songs, but they also included some original material by the band members and cover versions of songs by Bruce Cockburn, Fred Eaglesmith and David Wiffen. In 2005, the band was included in a list published by the New York Times of songs found on President George W. Bush's iPod.[5] In 2006, the band recorded Let's Frolic!,[1] consisting of all-original material.

In 2008, the band were the winners of the 7th annual Independent Music Awards Vox Pop vote for best band venue poster. It was designed by Michael Wrycraft.[6]

In 2009, the compilation album Swinging from the Chains of Love was released, which included the previously unreleased "Caves of Jericho" and a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues".[3]

For their 2011 album Kings and Queens the band teamed up with singers Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson, Serena Ryder and Patti Scialfa. Each of the 14 tracks featured a duet with one of the singers.[1][7] The band then went out on tour in support of the album.[8] In 2012 they performed at the Calgary Folk Music Festival.[9]

In 2014, the band released the album South, which was made up of new, original songs, as well a cover of Willie P. Bennett's "Driftin' Snow."[10]

Their 2017 album Kings and Kings revisited the format of their 2011 album Kings and Queens, this time pairing the band with different guest male vocalists. Contributing to the album were Eric Church, City and Colour, Bruce Cockburn, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell, Nick Lowe, Raul Malo (of The Mavericks), The Men of Nashville, Buddy Miller, Keb' Mo', and Fantastic Negrito.[11]

Accompanying musicians[edit]

John Dymond: Bassist for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and other well-known Canadian artists, such as Amanda Wilkinson, the Wilkinsons, k.d. lang and Bruce Cockburn.[12]

Gary Craig: Drummer and percussionist for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. He has performed with numerous Canadian musicians, from Anne Murray to Terri Clark.[13]

Richard Bell (March 5, 1946, Toronto – June 15, 2007, Toronto): Pianist for Janis Joplin and The Band. He was the keyboardist for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings for a number of years before his death.[14]

John Whynot, who has played with many folk and roots artists, and who has recorded occasionally with the band since their first album[15] now handles keyboard duties.[16]



Year Album Label
1996 High or Hurtin': The Songs of Willie P. Bennett True North
1999 Kings of Love True North
2003 Bark True North
2006 Let's Frolic True North
2007 Let's Frolic Again True North
2009 Swinging from the Chains of Love File Under: Music
2011 Kings and Queens File Under: Music
2014 South File Under: Music
2017 Kings and Kings File Under: Music
2020 King of This Town File Under: Music


Year Single Chart Positions Album
CAN Country CAN Rock
1996 "Lace & Pretty Flowers" 94 High or Hurtin'
1997 "White Line"
1999 "The Lucky Ones" 82 Kings of Love
"Lean on Your Peers" 19
2003 "Swinging from the Chains of Love" Bark
"Had Enough of You Today"
2004 "Water or Gasoline"
"You're So Easy to Love"
2006 "That's What I Like" Let's Frolic
2007 "The Fool Who Can't Forget"
"Buried in Your Heart"
2011 "Got You Covered" (with Rosanne Cash) Kings and Queens
2019 "Cold 100" King of This Town

Contributions to other recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Deming, Mark. "Blackie & the Rodeo Kings". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Blackie and the Rodeo Kings". The Canadian Encyclopedia, Bruce Farley Mowat, Anne-marie Pedersen, February 19, 2013
  3. ^ a b Oliver, Nic. "Blackie and the Rodeo Kings – Swinging from the Chains of Love". musicOMH. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Best Roots & Traditional Album: Group 2000". 2000. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Bush's Playlist". Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  6. ^ "Design Nominees : 7th Annual Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 15 January 2016.[dead link]
  7. ^ Wheeler, Brad (3 July 2011). "Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - and Queens". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  8. ^ "The Mountain Man comes to the Prairies". Uniter, Adam Petrash, November 2, 2011
  9. ^ "Stephen Fearing of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings electrified the main stage with fellow musicians Tom Wilson and Colin Linden at the Calgary Folk Music Festival on Prince’s Island on Friday evening July 27, 2012". Edmonton Journal, Gavin Young, 07.28.2012
  10. ^ "SOUTH – Blackie and the Rodeo Kings". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  11. ^ "Kings and Kings – Blackie and the Rodeo Kings". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  12. ^ "John Dymond". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Gary Craig". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  14. ^ Wenn (20 June 2007). "Richard Bell Dies". Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  15. ^ See his list of performance credits at
  16. ^ "We were honored as always by Gary Craig, Johnny Dymond, John Whynot and the legendary Kenneth Pearson on these songs..." - as close a reference as i have found to these guys being "members" of the band anyway

External links[edit]