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Great Speckled Bird (band)

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Great Speckled Bird
Also known asThe Great Speckled Bird
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresCountry rock
Years active1969 (1969)–1976
LabelsAmpex, Columbia, A&M, Stony Plain
Past membersIan Tyson
Sylvia Tyson
Amos Garrett
Ken Kalmusky
Bill Keith
Ricky Marcus
Buddy Cage
N. D. Smart
Jim Colegrove
Jeff Gutcheon
David Wilcox
Ben Keith
Peter Ecklund
Billy Mundi
Red Shea
Gordon Fleming
Jim Baker
Pee Wee Charles
Rolly Sally
Jim Morgan
Ed Wideman
Kim Brandt
Gord Neave

Great Speckled Bird was a country rock group formed in 1969 by the Canadian musical duo Ian & Sylvia. Ian Tyson sang, played guitar and composed. Sylvia Tyson sang, composed and occasionally played piano. The other founding members were Amos Garrett on guitar and occasional vocals, Ben Keith on steel guitar, Ken Kalmusky on bass and Ricky Marcus on drums. They were named after the song, "The Great Speckled Bird", as recorded by Roy Acuff (1936).[1]


The group was featured in the film Festival Express, a documentary about the music festival of the same name that took place in 1970. The shows were scheduled, and the performers traveled by train, across Canada. In the film, Great Speckled Bird performs "C.C. Rider", along with Delaney Bramlett and members of the Grateful Dead. A performance of the Dylan/Manuel song "Tears of Rage", without the aforementioned accompaniment, is included in the extra features of the DVD release.

In 1970, the group became the house band for the television show Nashville North, produced by the CTV network and filmed at the CFTO-TV studios in Toronto, which, after one season, became the Ian Tyson Show.[2][3] The show ran until 1975.

The group backed Ian & Sylvia until the duo parted ways in 1975. They also backed Ian Tyson as a solo artist, for his 1973 debut solo album and his live performances,[4][5] until 1976.[6]



Year Album Album Artist CAN Label
1970 Great Speckled Bird Great Speckled Bird 54 Ampex
1972 You Were on My Mind Ian & Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird Columbia
1973 Ol' Eon Ian Tyson 81 A&M


Year Single Chart Positions Album
1970 "Trucker's Cafe" 9 94 Great Speckled Bird
1972 "You Were on My Mind" 4 You Were on My Mind
1973 "Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone" 46 61 Ol' Eon
1974 "Great Canadian Tour" 13


Year Title Notes
1970 The Johnny Cash Show performed "Crazy Arms" and "Long Long Time to Get Old"
1970 Nashville North produced by the CTV network
1971–1975 The Ian Tyson Show produced by the CTV network
2003 Festival Express filmed in 1970

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ J. Einarson, I. Tyson, S. Tyson. 2011.
  3. ^ The Cool Groove. The Ian Tyson Show. 2008. retrieved 2011-09-14.
  4. ^ Liner notes. Ol' Eon. Ian Tyson. 2004
  5. ^ "Ian's 1st Solo Album Marks Return To Country Roots", Billboard, November 23, 1974, p.66
  6. ^ The Cool Groove. Great Speckled Bird. 2008. retrieved 2011-09-14.


  • J. Einarson, I. Tyson, S. Tyson. Four Strong Winds: Ian and Sylvia. 2011. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7710-3038-3. retrieved 2011-09-13.

External links[edit]