Donny Gerrard

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Donny Gerrard
Gerrard at Outside Lands 2011
Gerrard at Outside Lands 2011
Background information
Born(1946-03-19)March 19, 1946
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
DiedFebruary 3, 2022(2022-02-03) (aged 75)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer

Donny Gerrard (March 19, 1946 – February 3, 2022) was a Canadian singer. He was a member of the band Skylark in the early 1970s, and in later years performed and recorded as a baritone backup singer for such artists as Mavis Staples.

Early life[edit]

Gerrard was born in Vancouver, Canada, on March 19, 1946.[1][2] He began singing as a child and his talents became noticed when he was in high school. He and Al Foreman formed a group called "Donny Gerrard and the Checkmates" after the latter heard him sing at church community event in 1961. The band performed for three years before breaking up. He subsequently had a sojourn in Hawaii with another band, before coming back to Canada and reuniting with Foreman in Night Train Revue as its bassist for the next two years.[1] Gerrard later relocated to the United States and started out performing in flash Vegas lounge acts. He was also part of a group that disbanded after Floyd Sneed became a member of Three Dog Night.[3]

Career[edit]

Gerrard successfully auditioned as lead vocalist for Skylark in the early 1970s, with his performance leaving an impression on David Foster.[1] He sang with the band on its self-titled album in 1972,[4] and was lead singer on their hit single, "Wildflower".[5] It ultimately lasted 21 weeks on the Billboard charts.[1]

After Skylark disbanded in 1973, Gerrard commenced his solo career. He released his first single titled "(Baby) Don't Let It Mess Your Mind" in 1975 with The Rocket Record Company label.[6] He issued another single, Greedy for Your Love in 1976,[7] the same year he released a self-titled album with the Greedy label in Los Angeles.[6][8] However, his solo career never took off with the success his record label desired.[1] He released his last single Stay a While With Me in 1977,[9] before becoming a backing vocalist.[6]

In 1985, Gerrard appeared in a duet on the "St. Elmo's Fire" soundtrack along with Amy Holland. The ballad from David Foster, "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire (For Just a Moment)" was a slower version of the film's main theme song with added lyrics. He would also contribute vocals to Foster's charity single "Tears Are Not Enough," sung by a cavalcade of Canadian celebrities to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia.[1]

Gerrard was a backup singer for musicians such as Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Cher.[10] He sang backup for Mavis Staples on her album One True Vine,[11][12] and at live performances, including at the Lincoln Center in 2014.[13][14] He continued to perform with Staples, and can be heard on her 2016 album Livin' on a High Note.[15] His final known contribution was in her album We Get By, released in 2019.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Gerrard was married to Myra until his death. Together, they had one child (Cooper). He also had another child (Traie Payne) from a previous relationship before he was married.[1]

While receiving hospice care at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gerrard died on February 3, 2022, at the age of 75.[17] He suffered from cancer prior to his death.[16][18][19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Friend, David (February 8, 2022). "Donny Gerrard, lead singer of Skylark's 'Wildflower,' dies at 75". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  2. ^ Gajewski, Ryan (February 5, 2022). "Donny Gerrard, "Wildflower" Singer, Dies at 75". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  3. ^ Freedland, Nat (September 15, 1973). "Skylark Flying on 'Flower' Power". Billboard. Vol. 85, no. 37. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 17. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ "Billboard Album Reviews". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. July 29, 1972. pp. 50–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ "West Coast musician Doug Edwards composed Wildflower for Skylark". TOM HAWTHORN, The Globe and Mail, November 28, 2016
  6. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Donny Gerrard – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  7. ^ "Attic Records will distribute Greedy artists". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. November 27, 1976. pp. 88–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ "Donny Gerrard". AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton
  9. ^ "Billboard Top 50 - Easy Listening". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. February 19, 1977. pp. 50–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ Huey, Steve. Donny Gerrard artist biography. Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  11. ^ "Mavis Staples One True Vine". Pitchfork, Stephen M. Deusner June 26, 2013
  12. ^ "Album review: Mavis Staples, 'One True Vine'". Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "Still on the Freedom Highway". Pop Matters, George de Stefano November 10, 2014
  14. ^ "Mavis Staples with JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound". Chicago Blues Guide, February 29, 2012
  15. ^ "Music reviews: Mavis Staples, The Timbers, Breakbot". Western Australian, February 13, 2016
  16. ^ a b Daniels, Karu F. (February 4, 2022). "Donny Gerrard, lead singer of Skylark's 'Wildflower' has died". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  17. ^ Friend, David (February 8, 2022). "Donny Gerrard, singer of Skylark's Wildflower, dead at 75". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  18. ^ Daniels, Kate (February 4, 2022). "Donny Gerrard Cause of Death Finally Revealed: Soul Band Lead Singer of Skylark Dead at 75". Music Times. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  19. ^ Rizik, Chris (February 4, 2022). "R.I.P. R&B classic "Wildflower" singer Donny Gerrard". SoulTracks. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  20. ^ Peacock, Tim (February 7, 2022). "Donny Gerrard, Vocalist On Skylark's 1972 Hit 'Wildflower', Dies At 75". uDiscoverMusic. Archived from the original on February 7, 2022. Retrieved February 8, 2022.

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