The Esquires (Canadian band)

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Not to be confused with The Squires (Canadian band).
The Esquires
Origin Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Genres Pop
Years active 1962 (1962)-1967 (1967)
Labels Capitol
Associated acts The Children
Don Norman and The Other Four
The Staccatos
Five Man Electrical Band
The Townsmen
The Modern Rock Quartet
3's a Crowd
Canada Goose
James Leroy and Denim
Past members Bob Harrington
Don Norman
Brian Lewicki
Gary Comeau
Paul Huot
Andy Legault
Clint Hierlihy
Richard Patterson
Gail Thompson
Bert Hurd
Ted Gerow
John Cassidy
Bernie Jessome
Douglas Orr
Bruce Cockburn
Robert Coulthart
Mike Argue

The Esquires were a Canadian band, based in Ottawa, active from 1962 to 1967. The band is notable as the recipient of the first Juno Award[1] in Canada, as well as being one of Canada's earlier pop music recording acts. The first Canadian music video ever made is said to be that of an Esquires song. The band is also notable as having had Bruce Cockburn as a later member, and also for one of its hit records, "It's A Dirty Shame", having been written by William Hawkins.


The Esquires (not to be confused with the same-named R&B group The Esquires from Milwaukee, Wisconsin) were co-founded in Ottawa, in 1962, by Clint Hierlihy and Gary Comeau, while both were still in high school.[2] The band developed a strong local following during the 1962-1963 period, modeling their sound on that of Cliff Richard and The Shadows. The group attracted the attention of Montreal singer Marty Hill. They were asked to back Montreal singer Andy Kim for his performance during Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars in Montreal, where the band played on the same bill as Gene Pitney, The Dovells, Paul and Paula and The Tymes.[2]

The Esquires were signed to Capitol Records in 1963, and are considered to have been the first Canadian pop band to be signed to a major label. In 1964, they received the RPM Award, a predecessor to the Juno Awards, as Best Vocal and Instrumental Group. They became the opening act for some of the major performers of the day, including The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five and Roy Orbison. [2] The Esquires issued a series of singles, the biggest hit of which was "So Many Other Boys" (1964) and one album, Introducing The Esquires.[3]

Lead singer Don Norman, who had succeeded Bob Harrington as vocalist, split acrimoniously with the group in 1965, leading to a lawsuit when he named his new group Don Norman and The Esquires. Norman gave up his claim to The Esquires name, but his departure from the group is said to have cost them their contract with Capitol Records. Norman continued as Don Norman and The Other Four, with ex-Esquire Gary Comeau joining him.[4]

The Esquires switched to Columbia Records, issuing two singles (including "It's A Dirty Shame" by William Hawkins),[5] prior to breaking up in 1967. Band members continued their music careers in such bands as The Staccatos (later reformed as The Five Man Electrical Band),[6] The Townsmen,[7] The Modern Rock Quartet,[8] 3's a Crowd,[9] Canada Goose[10][11] and James Leroy and Denim.[12][13]

In 1987, the band reunited to commemorate its 25th anniversary, playing at a benefit concert for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Appearing were Norman, Huot, Hierlihy, Comeau, Patterson, and Lewicki. The day was proclaimed by the City of Ottawa to be "Esquires Day", in the band's honour.[14]

In 1987, two music clips featuring the band were discovered: "The Man From Adano" and "Gee Whiz It's You". "The Man From Adano" clip is considered to be the first Canadian music video ever made. The original footage was donated to the National Archives of Canada.[2]



  • 1963 Atlantis/I've Lost My Girl (Capitol)
  • 1964 The Man From Adano/Gee Whiz It's You (Capitol)
  • 1964 So Many Other Boys/The Oldest Story (Capitol) [#9 CAN]
  • 1965 Cry Is All I Do/We've Got A Future (Capitol) [#39 CAN]
  • 1965 Love's Made A Fool Of You/Summertime (Capitol) [#19 CAN]
  • 1966 It's A Dirty Shame/The Sea Rushes To The Shore (Columbia)
  • 1966 Love Hides A Multitude Of Sins/Why Should I Care? (Columbia)


  • 1964 Introducing The Esquires (Capitol; CD reissue 2003, EMI Canada)


  1. ^ Then known as the RPM Awards.
  2. ^ a b c d Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Cliff Hierlihy, Don Norman and Richard Patterson, Profile of The Esquires. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia;
  3. ^ John Bush, Portrait of The Esquires;
  4. ^ Portrait of Don Norman and The Other Four;
  5. ^ At the time, Hawkins had formed the band The Children, which included Bruce Cockburn and which had rapidly developed a national reputation; see William Hawkins. Cockburn later became a member of one of the final versions of The Esquires.
  6. ^ Ted Gerow
  7. ^ Paul Huot, Andy Legault and Gary Comeau; see Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Frank Morrison, Profile of The Townsmen. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia;
  8. ^ Douglas Orr and Robert Coulthart
  9. ^ Richard Patterson
  10. ^ Richard Patterson (post 3's a Crowd), Gary Comeau and Paul Huot
  11. ^ Originally to be called the "New Esquires", though name was dropped to avoid confusion with the U.S. rhythm and blues group of the same name; see Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Richard Patterson and Doug Grose, Profile of Canada Goose. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia;
  12. ^ Gary Comeau, post Canada Goose; see Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Richard Patterson and Doug Grose, Profile of Canada Goose. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia;
  13. ^ James Leroy was principally active as a Canadian recording artist in 1973-1974, charting several singles and one album, with the group Denim. He committed suicide in 1979, at the age of 32. See Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Richard Patterson, Harvey Glatt, George Pollard, Carrie Comeau, Hope Stone and Reg Moore, Profile of James Leroy. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia; See also James Leroy Tribute Website;
  14. ^ Jaimie and Sharon Vernon, with notes from Richard Patterson and Doug Grose, Profile of Canada Goose. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia;

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