Max Webster

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Max Webster
Founding member, vocalist and guitarist Kim Mitchell
Founding member, vocalist and guitarist Kim Mitchell
Background information
Also known asThe Grass Company, The Quotations, Big Al's Band, ZOOOM
OriginSarnia, Ontario, Canada
GenresHard rock, progressive rock, heavy metal, pop rock
Years active1973–1982
LabelsAnthem, Mercury, Capitol, Taurus
Past membersKim Mitchell
Terry Watkinson
Dave Myles
Gary McCracken
Paul Kersey
Mike Tilka
Jim Chevalier
Steve McMurray
Pye Dubois

Max Webster was a Canadian hard rock band formed in 1973 in Toronto, Ontario.


In the 1960s in Sarnia, the band went through names such as the Grass Company, the Quotations, Big Al's Band, and ZOOOM.[1] They settled on "Max Webster" in 1973.

The original members were guitarist and vocalist Kim Mitchell, keyboardist Terry Watkinson, bassist Mike Tilka and drummer Paul Kersey. Mitchell and lyricist Pye Dubois wrote the majority of their material. During his tenure with the band, Watkinson also wrote one to three songs per album.

Kersey left the band after their 1976 self-titled debut album, and was replaced by Gary McCracken. After recording and touring for their second album, High Class in Borrowed Shoes (1977), Tilka would follow suit and leave the band, being replaced by Dave Myles. Myles had played with Mitchell in a series of pre-Max Webster bands, all based in Mitchell's and Myles' hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.

Max Webster's third album, Mutiny Up My Sleeve (1978), was produced by the band and Terry Brown in collaboration with their ex-bassist Mike Tilka (who was then concentrating on a production career), and featured the Mitchell/Watkinson/McCracken/Myles line-up. This line-up would last through their fourth album, A Million Vacations, and a subsequent live album, Live Magnetic Air, both of which were issued in 1979.

Though their albums had become FM radio staples in Canada, A Million Vacations was the first Max Webster album to generate hit singles that appeared in the Canadian top 100. The group's first hit was "Let Go the Line," written and sung by Terry Watkinson, and peaked at No. 41 on the Canadian charts. Follow-up single "A Million Vacations" was written by McCracken/Dubois, sung by McCracken, and peaked at No. 80 in Canada. The album's third and final single, "Paradise Skies" was a Mitchell/Dubois composition sung by Mitchell, and was a minor hit in both Canada (number 21) and the UK Singles Chart (number 43).[2]

With some international recognition having arrived, Max Webster then toured Europe to fairly large crowds in 1979. However, their career momentum was stalled when the band's American label Capitol Records refused to finance a follow-up tour. By the time the band returned to Europe more than a year later, their single was no longer on the charts, and the tour had to be cancelled due to poor ticket sales from a lack of promotion.

Prior to the recording of the band's fifth and final studio album, Universal Juveniles (1980), Watkinson exited. This left Max Webster a trio of Mitchell, McCracken and Myles (and left Mitchell as the band's sole original member). Universal Juveniles was recorded with the assistance of various session musicians; the song "Battle Scar" was recorded live with all three members of Rush playing alongside Max Webster.

Myles left the band almost immediately after the album was recorded. Max Webster toured for a little while longer with a revised 'caretaker' line-up before Kim Mitchell decided to dissolve the band one night after playing a gig supporting Rush in Memphis Tennessee in April 1981.

Legacy and reunions[edit]

Max Webster were close friends of fellow Canadian musicians Rush. In a 1979 interview, Rush bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee commented that he enjoyed their music, and the bands frequently toured together during the 1970s.

Although successful in Canada, Max Webster failed to achieve much success elsewhere. "Paradise Skies" was a minor U.K. hit, reaching No. 43 on the singles chart there. They also appeared on Top of the Pops in 1979, playing to a pre-recorded track that was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Kim Mitchell's subsequent solo career, however, reached a much broader audience and he achieved popularity beyond Canada during the 1980s.

Among the highlights of the band's career were their New Year's Eve shows at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Geddy Lee joined the band onstage to sing and play his Rickenbacker bass guitar for "Battle Scar" on December 31, 1980, when the band headlined the show.

The band reunited in 1990 for a gig at the Toronto Music Awards, with the Mitchell/Watkinson/Tilka/McCracken line-up. Max Webster then continued to play shows on occasional basis throughout the 1990s, with longtime Mitchell collaborator Peter Fredette joining the band as bassist in place of Tilka.

Max Webster reunited for the Q107 30th Anniversary Concert and Live Radio Special on Thursday, May 24, 2007, at The Docks in Toronto. During the one-off gig, the band played a set of their hits ("Oh War!", "The Party", "Waterline", "Let Go The Line", "Toronto Tontos", "Diamonds Diamonds", "High Class In Borrowed Shoes", "A Million Vacations", "In Context Of The Moon", "Paradise Skies", Charmonium" and "Battle Scar", with "Hangover" as an encore). The classic Max Webster lineup was featured, from the High Class in Borrowed Shoes era: Kim Mitchell, Terry Watkinson, Mike Tilka and Gary McCracken (who sang "A Million Vacations", with drummer Robert Sibony on drums for the tune). Longtime Kim Mitchell bandmate Peter Fredette joined the band onstage to sing Geddy Lee's part on "Battle Scar."

From 2004 until August 2015, Kim Mitchell hosted the weekday afternoon drive slot (2 p.m.-6 p.m.) on Q107 (107.1) in Toronto, Ontario.[3]

In the 1990s Watkinson and Tilka formed the band The Antlers, playing Max Webster songs and classic rock covers. The band has continued on and off for more than 20 years, playing at various venues around southern Ontario.[4][5]

Gary McCracken teaches music in his hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.[6]

RockCandy Music Music in England has re-released the first three Max Webster albums.

In 2017 a box set package called The Party was released by Anthem Records on vinyl, compact disc and digital formats. The release featured remastered versions of all the band's releases, unreleased live and studio songs as well as Kim Mitchell's long out-of-print solo EP. The vinyl set includes a book, a poster and a sticker.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Certifications
1976 Max Webster 32 Gold
1977 High Class in Borrowed Shoes 44 Gold
1978 Mutiny Up My Sleeve 53 Gold
1979 A Million Vacations 13 Platinum
1980 Universal Juveniles 41 Gold
1981 Diamonds Diamonds 47

A United Kingdom only release known as "Magnetic Air" was released in 1979 by Capitol-EMI Records to showcase the band to a wider audience, it features live tracks from the Live Magnetic Air album as well as songs from the first two albums Max Webster and High Class in Borrowed Shoes.

Live albums[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Certifications
1979 Live Magnetic Air 17 Gold

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
1989 The Best of Max Webster


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Year Title Peak chart positions Label /

Cat. No.

1976 "Blowing The Blues Away"

b/w "Hangover"

- - Taurus TR 006 Max Webster

(Taurus TR-101)

(rereleased on Anthem ANR-1-1006)

1977 "Words To Words"

b/w "In Context Of The Moon"

- - Anthem ANS-003 High Class In Borrowed Shoes

(Anthem ANR-1-1007)

1977 "Diamonds, Diamonds"

b/w "Rain Child"

- - Anthem ANS-005 High Class In Borrowed Shoes

(Anthem ANR-1-1007)

1979 "Let Go The Line"

b/w "Moon Voices"

39 Anthem ANS-012 A Million Vacations

(Anthem ANR-1-1018)

"A Million Vacations"

b/w "Rascal Houdi"


- - Anthem ANS-013

(first pressing)

1979 "A Million Vacations"

b/w "Night Flights"

80 - Anthem ANS-013


1979 "Paradise Skies (live)"

b/w "Paradise Skies (studio)"

- - Anthem ANS-014

promo only

Live Magnetic Air

(Anthem ANR-1-1019)

A Million Vacations

(Anthem ANR-1-1018)

1980 "Paradise Skies (studio)"

b/w "In Context Of The Moon (live)"

47 43 Anthem ANS-014


A Million Vacations

(Anthem ANR-1-1018)

Live Magnetic Air

(Anthem ANR-1-1019)

"Blue River Liquor Shine (edit)"

b/w "Check"

98 - Anthem ANS-027 Universal Juveniles

(Anthem ANR-1-1027)

1980 "Night Flight (live)"

b/w "Hangover (live)"

- - Anthem ANS -020 Live Magnetic Air

(Anthem ANR-1-1019)

1981 "Hot Spots" (previously unreleased)

b/w "Battle Scar" (with Rush)

- - Anthem ANS-037 Diamonds Diamonds

(Anthem ANR-1-1033)

Universal Juveniles

(Anthem ANR-!-1027)

Box Set[edit]




2017 The Party 1976-82 CD/LP


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2015-01-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Max Webster
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 356. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "Shows – Q107 Toronto".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2015-11-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ kubrickrules (30 November 2010). "The Antlers featuring Terry Watkinson and Mike Tilka from Max Webster" – via YouTube.
  6. ^ Website for Gary McCracken Archived 2015-02-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Peak positions for Max Webster's albums in Canada:
  8. ^ a b "Gold/Platinum". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
  9. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 32, No. 18, January 26, 1980". RPM. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved 2011-09-02.

External links[edit]