John Till

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John Till
Born(1945-12-28)December 28, 1945
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
DiedSeptember 4, 2022(2022-09-04) (aged 76)
Stratford, Ontario, Canada

John Till (December 28, 1945 – September 4, 2022) was a Canadian musician. He was noted for co-founding The Revols, as well as heading Full Tilt Boogie Band, which was Janis Joplin's backup band.

Early life[edit]

Till was born in Stratford, Ontario, on December 28, 1945.[1][2] His parents were both musicians who had a Dixieland band. His father played guitar, tenor banjo, and double bass; his mother played both classical music and ragtime on the piano.[1] Till attended Stratford Central High School, where he met his future bandmates Richard Manuel and Ken Kalmusky.[1][3]


In 1957, when Till was around twelve years old,[4] he established The Revols with Kalmusky on bass, Doug "Bo" Rhodes on vocals, and Jim Winkler on drums. Manuel later joined on piano and vocals. They were eventually taken under the wing of Ronnie Hawkins. Till played in local bands until the early 1960s, when he was picked to play in Hawkins's band The Hawks, to replace previous members who had left to tour with Bob Dylan (see The Band).[1] After touring with Hawkins, the members of this band moved to New York City to try to establish themselves as musicians in the larger US market, where Till became a studio musician and was doing commercial sessions and led his group, the Full Tillt Boogie Band ("Tillt" spelled with two l's to allude to Till's last name).[5]

Till and others from Full Tillt were hired in 1969 as touring musicians for Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band, along with Full Tillt bass player Brad Campbell on her Full Tillt Boogie Band, as a side project with Till's fellow Canadian band members. However, Joplin was not happy touring with some of the group members, feeling some of them to be too "square". Joplin and her management subsequently hired Till, bass player Brad Campbell, and pianist Ken Pearson (from nearby Woodstock, Ontario), to fill out her new band, now called Full Tilt Boogie.[1][6] The band appeared on The Dick Cavett Show and was booked on the Festival Express which toured across Canada.[5] The group recorded their classic Pearl album, which reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts in February 1971, after Joplin's death.[6][7]

After Joplin's death, and the subsequent breakup of Full Tilt Boogie, Till played with Bobby Charles, Bob Burchill, and his ensemble in the Stratford apartments.[1] He later moved back to Stratford, Ontario, retiring from the music industry and raising his family there.[6] In the foreword of Love, Janis (1992), Laura Joplin's biography of her relationship with her famous sister, Till, and his wife are thanked for providing some of the material for the book.[8]

In November 2020, Till and Kalmusky – deceased by then – were awarded Bronze Stars from the city of Stratford for "significant contributions to the cultural or social fabric of Stratford on a national or international scale."[9]

Personal life[edit]

Till was married to Dorcas until his death.[3][10] Together, they had two children: Michael and Shawn.[10][11] He worked as a computer technician at an engineering firm in his hometown during his later years.[12]

Till died on September 4, 2022, at his home in Stratford, Ontario.[3]

Explanatory notes[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Viglione, Joe. "John Till – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  2. ^ "John Till – Obituary". The Beacon Herald. Stratford, Ontario. September 9, 2022. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Simmons, Galen (September 6, 2022). "John Till, last of a trio of legendary Stratford rockers, dies at age 78 [sic]". The Beacon Herald. Stratford, Ontario. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  4. ^ Reaney, James (January 17, 2015). "Bandmates, admirers fund scholarship in Manuel's name – Education: Annual award will go to Western performance student". The London Free Press. London, Ontario. p. C6. ProQuest 2230208230. Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ a b Gaar, Gillian G. (April 2021). "The Making of Pearl". Goldmine. Vol. 47, no. 4. pp. 58–59, 62, 64. ProQuest 2493541001. Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ a b c Rubinoff, Joel (October 1, 2010). "Me and Janis Joplin". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  7. ^ "Billboard 200 – Week of February 27, 1971". Billboard. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  8. ^ Joplin, Laura (1992). Love, Janis. Villard Books. ISBN 9780679416050.
  9. ^ Montanini, Chris (November 5, 2020). "Stratford's John Till, Ken Kalmusky, original members of the Revols, honoured with Bronze Stars". The Beacon Herald. Stratford, Ontario. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Fox, Kirk (September 7, 2022). "John Till obituary: guitarist for Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band". Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via
  11. ^ Wishart, Scott (June 21, 2016). "Once more, for old times' sake". The Beacon Herald. Stratford, Ontario. p. A3. ProQuest 2218441526. Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via ProQuest.
  12. ^ Rubinoff, Joel (August 15, 2009). "Two area musicians had unique window on Woodstock". Waterloo Region Record. p. A1. ProQuest 267291069. Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via ProQuest.

External links[edit]