Red Rider

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Red Rider
Tom Cochrane & Red Rider perform in Halifax August 2007
Tom Cochrane & Red Rider perform in Halifax August 2007
Background information
Also known asTom Cochrane & Red Rider
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresRock, hard rock
Years active1975–1990
LabelsCapitol, RCA
MembersKen Greer
Tom Cochrane
Jeff Jones
Davide Direnzo
Gary Craig
Past membersRob Baker
Peter Boynton
Jon Checkowski
Arvo Lepp
Steve Sexton
John Webster
Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve
Randall Coryell
Peter Mueller
Jamie Oakes
Randall "Mongo" Stoll
Troy Feener
Bill Bell
Gary Craig

Red Rider, later known as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider, is a Canadian rock band popular in the 1980s. While they achieved significant success in Canada, the band never had a song in the top 40 in the United States, although "Lunatic Fringe" from their second album, 1981's As Far as Siam, became popular on US album-oriented rock radio. They also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 with "White Hot" from their debut album Don't Fight It (1979) and "Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)" from Breaking Curfew (1984), and charted comparably to "Lunatic Fringe" on Mainstream Rock (AOR) with "Big League", "Human Race", and "Power", the latter two tracks off 1983's Neruda.

Band history[edit]

As Red Rider[edit]

Red Rider was formed in Toronto in 1975 when Peter Boynton (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Ken Greer (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals) and Rob Baker (drums) joined up with Arvo Lepp (guitar) and Jon Checkowski (bass) and began playing around Toronto, performing both original and cover music.

In 1978, their manager at that time was contacted by Capitol Records about adding singer/guitarist/composer Tom Cochrane to the group. Cochrane was invited to one of the band's gigs in London, Ontario to rehearse with them. Boynton, Greer and Baker were impressed with his playing and songwriting but Lepp and Checkowski were not as enthused and decided to leave the band. Jeff Jones (formerly with Ocean and who briefly played for Rush) was then brought in on bass, and it was the lineup of Cochrane, Boynton, Greer, Baker and Jones that were signed to Capitol and released their first album Don't Fight It in October 1979. With the singles "White Hot" and "Don't Fight It", the album quickly reached gold status.

Their second album, As Far as Siam, was released in June 1981 and featured the hit "Lunatic Fringe", which featured steel guitarist Greer. The song was used in the 1985 movie Vision Quest, appeared in the Miami Vice episode "Smuggler's Blues" and saw high rotation on the United States cable network MTV. It is now a mainstay on American classic rock radio.

Peter Boynton was replaced by keyboardist Steve Sexton on Red Rider's third album Neruda, released in March 1983, and the track "Napoleon Sheds His Skin" would become one of the more popular songs from the album, while "Human Race" picked up considerable FM radio airplay in the US, becoming their second best known song there after "Lunatic Fringe". Moreover, the song "Can't Turn Back" was used in the Miami Vice episode "Tale of the Goat".

For their next release, Breaking Curfew (September 1984), John Webster (formerly with Canadian soft rockers Stonebolt) replaced Sexton on keyboards. The album did not sell as well as Neruda and a dispute with Bruce Allen, the band's manager, over the future direction of the band resulted in Red Rider's departure from the Bruce Allen camp and a change in band members, as Jeff Jones and Rob Baker left. The album did contain the band's top-charting single in the US, "Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)", which reached number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As Tom Cochrane & Red Rider[edit]

In what became a strong signal regarding the future of the band, they officially became known as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider. The line-up consisted of Cochrane, Greer and Webster with new member Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve on bass. For the first album under this revised name (their fifth overall), the group issued the self-titled Tom Cochrane and Red Rider LP in May 1986. Sessioneer Graham Broad (Go West and Roger Waters' band) played drums on the album, recorded in Wales at Rockfield Studios and Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario over the early months of 1985, produced by Patrick Moran. After the release of the album, Randall Coryell was added to the official lineup for live dates, as was guitarist Peter Mueller; this six-piece version of the band would last through early 1990.

In 1987 Capitol released a compilation CD titled Over 60 Minutes with Red Rider, covering the band's first four albums. Also in 1987, the band, who had been nominated 11 times for Juno Awards, finally was awarded one for Group of the Year.

In the fall of 1988, the band (now a sextet) released their sixth album, Victory Day, which contained the track "Big League", about the death of a young hockey player. The young man's father approached Cochrane on the day of a concert, mentioning that his son was a big fan of Red Rider's song "Boy Inside The Man". Cochrane asked the man if his son was going to be attending the concert and the man responded that his son had recently died in a car accident.[1] Cochrane wrote the song as a memorial, and it became a big hit in Canada (reaching #4), as well as a top 10 hit on US rock radio.

Red Rider's final album, The Symphony Sessions, which was recorded on March 17 and 18, 1989, and released in December 1989, saw the band performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, as Procol Harum had done seventeen years before. The band broke up in early 1990, shortly after the album was released. Cochrane embarked on a successful solo career, employing Webster and Sinnaeve as part of his backing band.

The three-CD box set Ashes to Diamonds, which includes material by both Red Rider and Cochrane as a solo artist, was released in 1993.

Reformation (2002-present)[edit]

Cochrane, Greer, and Jones reunited as Red Rider in 2002 to play a benefit show after their 1980s guitar tech, John Garrish, was mugged and stabbed to death in the Yorkville section of Toronto. Since that time, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider have continued to tour annually, with Cochrane, Greer, and Jones being the mainstays of this revived version of the group. Keyboardist Webster was involved for a time between 2003 and 2006; current members Davide Direnzo (drums) and Bill Bell (guitar) both joined in 2006, though Bell dropped out for several years (2012-2016) before rejoining.

Professional wrestler Kurt Angle used an instrumental version of "Lunatic Fringe" as his entrance music in TNA. UFC fighter and former Pride Champion Dan "Hendo" Henderson also uses "Lunatic Fringe" as his intro song.




Studio albums[edit]

As Red Rider[edit]

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]


Year Title Chart peak Album

1980 "White Hot" 20 48 Don't Fight It
"Don't Fight It" 75 103
1981 "What Have You Got To Do" 42 As Far as Siam
"Lunatic Fringe" 52 11
1983 "Human Race" 29 11 Neruda
"Power (Strength in Numbers)" 13
"Crack the Sky (Breakaway)" 39
1984 "Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)" 44 71 13 Breaking Curfew
"Breaking Curfew" 93
1986 "Boy Inside The Man" 25 17 Tom Cochrane and Red Rider
"The Untouchable One" 70 48
1987 "One More Time (Some Old Habits)" 85
"Ocean Blues (Emotion Blue)" 88
1988 "Big League" 4 9 Victory Day
1989 "Calling America" 42
"Good Times" 2
"Victory Day" 32
"Different Drummer" 67
"White Hot" (Live) 50 The Symphony Sessions


  1. ^ interview with Tom Cochrane. Accessed September 27, 2008.
  2. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Top Singles". RPM. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 248. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ a b "Red Rider Album & Song Chart History - Billboard Hot 100 & Mainstream Rock". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn Presents Rock Tracks 1981-2008. p. 55.

External links[edit]