Motherlode (band)

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OriginLondon, Ontario, Canada
GenresSoul, Rock
Years active1969–1970, 1976, 1989–1990
LabelsBuddah, Revolver, Unidisc
Past members VERSION 1
William "Smitty" Smith
Steve Kennedy
Ken Marco
Wayne "Stoney" Stone

William "Smitty" Smith
Doug Richardson
Anthony Shinault
Philip Wilson
Wally Cameron
Newton Garwood
Breen LeBeouf
Mike Levine
Gord Waszek
Wally Cameron
Newton Garwood
Mike Levine
Kieran Overs
Wayne St. John

Dave Berman
Brian Dewhurst
Gerry Legault
Joey Roberts
Brian Wray

Motherlode was a Canadian pop rock group formed in 1969 in London, Ontario.[1] The group scored some success in the US with their single, "When I Die",[1] which hit #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969.[2]

The act remains a one-hit wonder.


William Smith and Steve Kennedy had been playing together with Eric Mercury and Dianne Brooks in a Toronto band called the Soul Searchers that Mercury and Brooks fronted as lead vocalists. After the Soul Searchers broke up, first Kennedy and then Smith joined a group called Grant Smith & The Power.

Smith and Kennedy formed Motherlode in 1969 and relocated to London, Ontario, where they struggled and stayed with friends. They finally got a break following their debut at the Image Club when Mort Ross signed them to Revolver Records that same year.

Their first single, "When I Die" that was produced by Doug Riley and Terry Brown did not make any headway on the radio. A reciprocal deal in the US with Buddah Records made the song a hit reaching Number 18 on the charts. The song sold more than 500,000 copies and it eventually climbed to Number 1 in the Canadian charts.[3] Brooks contributed a song "Memories of A Broken Promise" as well as some background vocals to Motherlode's When I Die album. Motherlode also contributed a song and instrumental backing on Brooks album, Another Kind Of Soul that was released on Revolver Records.[4]

The group broke up in January 1970 and their second album, Tapped Out, was released posthumously only in the United States. Steve Kennedy, Ken Marco and Wayne Stone went on to be founding members of Dr. Music in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

As Revolver Records owned the name Motherlode, it decided to reform the group, keeping William Smith making this the second version of the group. They had Smith bring in three new musicians, Doug Richardson (saxophone), Anthony Shinault (guitar) and Philip Wilson (drums). This version of Motherlode, the second released one single in late in 1970, "I'm So Glad You're You (And Not Me)" / "Whipoorwill" (instrumental). Their new single flopped and the group quickly broke up.

Mort Ross, Revolver Record's president brought in Gord Waszek, of the rock group Leigh Ashford, to begin writing for the third version of Motherlode. They recorded "All That's Necessary", with Breen Leboeuf on vocals, Mike Levine on bass plus Gord Waszek and several other members of Leigh Ashford. The B-side of this single was "My Chant" which was just a renamed version of "Hiro Smothek" from 1970's Tapped Out. To promote this record, another version of Motherlode, the fourth was created with Mike Levine (bass), Wayne St. John (vocals), Kieran Overs (guitar) and two former members of Leigh Ashford, Wally Cameron (drums) and Newton Garwood (keyboards). Despite a major promotion push the record flopped and the band broke up.

By March 1971, a fifth version of Motherlode was created from the remnants of Natural Gas, a Montreal-based group. The members were Dave Berman (saxophone),Brian Dewhurst (drums), Gerry Legault (bass, vocals), Joey Roberts [Miquelon] (guitar) and Brian Wray (keyboards). They never managed to recording anything, and became Truck with the addition of Graham Lear.[5]

Later years[edit]

The original Motherlode members reunited in 1976, and recorded a song "Happy People" but, because of issues surrounding the name Motherlode, it had to be released as a Kenny Marco solo release. In November 1989, they used the name Motherlode for a reunion during a week of live performances at the Bluenote club in Toronto. In 1990 they recorded eight new songs, but those sessions have remained unreleased.[5]

Breen LeBoeuf eventually relocated to Montreal in 1978 to join Offenbach. He later recorded three solo albums and did a two-year stint with Celine Dion as bassist/background vocalist, before joining Canadian rockers April Wine in January 2007, replacing Jim Clench on bass.[6]

Kennedy later joined the Canadian band Lighthouse. He first performed with Lighthouse in 1982 at the One Fine Weekend Ontario Place reunion.

Smith became a session musician and played on and contributed background vocals to recordings by artists such as Eric Mercury on his Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil album,[7] Mark Tanner on his No Escape album,[8] and Rickie Lee Jones on her Flying Cowboys album. He also released a solo album Smitty,[9] which included a song "Sweetie Pie" that he co-wrote with Eric Mercury. He died in 1997, aged 53, of a heart attack.[10]

Newton Garwood left professional music in the mid-1970s, choosing instead to become a Toronto manager at Long & McQuade music instrument retailers. Garwood died of cancer in 2005.[11]

Original members[edit]

Guest musicians

Later members[edit]

  • Doug Richardson - saxophone - replaced Steve Kennedy 1970
  • Anthony Shinault - Guitar- replaced Ken Marco 1970
  • Philip Wilson - drums - replaced Wayne Stoney Stone 1970
  • Wally Cameron - drums - replaced Philip Wilson 1971
  • Newton Garwood - keyboards - Replaced William Smitty Smith 1971
  • Gord Waszek - guitar - replaced Anthony Shinault 1971
  • Dave Berman - saxophone
  • Brian Dewhurst - drums
  • Breen LeBeouf - Vocals
  • Gerry Legault - Bass, Vocals
  • Mike Levine - Bass
  • Kieran Overs - guitar
  • Joey Roberts (Miquelon) - Guitar
  • Wayne St. John - Vocals
  • Brian Wray - Keyboards[5]



  • "When I Die" / "Hard Life" - Revolver REVS 002 - 1969 [#1 CAN]
  • "When I Die" / "Hard Life" - Buddah BDA 131 - 1969
  • "Memories Of A Broken Promise" / "What Does It Take" - Revolver/Apex REVS 004 - 1969 (#40 CAN)
  • "What Does It Take" / "Memories Of A Broken Promise" - Buddha BDA 144
  • "Dear Old Daddy Bill" / "Living Life2 - Revolver REVS 005 - 1970 (#69 CAN)
  • "I'm So Glad You're You (And Not Me)" / "Whipoorwill2 - Revolver REVS 008 - 1970
  • "All That's Necessary" / "Chant" - Revolver REVS 011 - 1970 or 1971[13][14]


  • "Dear Old Daddy Bill", "Memories Of A Broken Promise" / "Oh! See The White Light", "You Ain't Lookin' In The Right Place Baby" - Buddha 1969


  • When I Die - (Revolver) 1970, Buddha BDS 5046 [13]
  • Tapped Out - Buddah BDS 5108 [15]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • When I Die/Tapped Out [2-fer-1 CD re-issue] (Pacemaker) [5]
  • The Best Of / When I Die - Unidisc AGEK-2246 - Canada 2001


  1. ^ a b c d e f "AllMusic - Motherlode - Biography Overview". Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  2. ^ "AllMusic - Motherlode - Billboard Singles Charts & Awards". Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  3. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly". 2013-07-17.
  4. ^ a b Toronto Blues Society More About Dianne Brooks by Bill Munson
  5. ^ a b c d Canadian Pop Encyclopedia - Artist: Motherlode With the exception of some of the material in the "Later Years" section, most of this Wikipedia article is a minor edit of the Canadian Pop Encyclopedia entry.
  6. ^ Breen Leboef
  7. ^ it came from Eric Mercury by Beau
  9. ^ [ Album Review: Smitty
  10. ^ "Los Angeles Times - William "Smitty" Smith Obituary". 1997-12-11. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  11. ^ Uncredited, Newton Garwood passes on. Canadian Music Trade, November 7, 2005;
  12. ^ When I Die Album by Motherlode
  13. ^ a b Bad Cat Records Motherlode
  14. ^ JBPCo website Canadian single's list L-R 1966-72.
  15. ^ Both Sides Now Publications Buddah Album Discography, Part 1

External links[edit]