The Parachute Club
The Parachute Club
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Genres||Pop, new wave, Caribbean|
|Labels||Current Records, licensed to|
|Past members||Billy Bryans|
Miranda Jackie Walsh
Chendy Leon Jr.
Glenda del Monte
The Parachute Club was a Canadian band formed in Toronto in 1982. They released three top 40 hits in Canada between 1983 and 1987, including "Rise Up", "At the Feet of the Moon" and "Love Is Fire" (which featured guest duet vocals from John Oates). The band was well known for being one of the first mainstream pop acts in Canada to integrate world music influences, particularly Caribbean styles such as reggae and soca, into their sound.
"The Chutes", as they were known, broke up after touring to promote their third and final album, and played their final gig in the summer of 1988. A reconstituted version of the Parachute Club (including four of the earlier band members) played a number of live shows between 2005 and 2008. The band reunited again in 2011 and remained intermittently active through 2014.
Formation and early years (1982–1983)
The original Parachute Club band consisted of Lorraine Segato on vocals and guitar, Lauri Conger on keyboards and vocals, Billy Bryans on drums, Margo Davidson on saxophone and vocals, Julie Masi on percussion and vocals, Steve Webster on bass and Dave Gray on guitar. Davidson at the time was one of very few female saxophonists playing professionally; Segato, Conger and Bryans had previously been associated for several years as the nucleus of Mama Quilla II, a band that gained respect in Toronto in the late 1970s and early 1980s for their integrated musical and sexual politics—elements that would continue with The Parachute Club. Billy Bryans had also been a well-known percussionist and producer in Toronto since the early 1970s, primarily associated with the Downchild Blues Band during this period.
Segato and Bryans first met in 1979, and started to collaborate musically. By 1982, they were both members of the Toronto band V, which was formed while Mama Quilla II was then on hiatus. In the late summer of 1982, Bryans was offered a chance to play at Toronto's inaugural Festival of Festivals, which later evolved into the Toronto International Film Festival. With other members of V unavailable, Bryans approached Segato to form a new one-off band to play at the festival. They added Lauri Conger from Mama Quilla II, as well as local musicians Margo Davidson, Dave Gray and Steve Webster. The band was well received at the festival, and shortly thereafter received and accepted an offer for both a management and recording contract with Current Records. The Parachute Club was thereby formed, while Mama Quilla II made their 'hiatus' permanent, and disbanded.
Early success (1983–1984)
The Parachute Club's eponymous first album, released in 1983, was produced by Daniel Lanois, who had previously been the recording engineer of Mama Quilla II's sole release, an EP released in 1982. The group had to write material for the album rather quickly, and consequently recruited poet/artist Lynne Fernie to assist with some of the lyrics. Though Fernie would never be an official member of The Parachute Club, she would contribute lyrics to all their albums, and function as an unofficial honorary member of the group.
During 1983, Steve Webster, a co-writer of Parachute Club's best known song, "Rise Up" left the band, to perform with Billy Idol. On their 1983/84 touring dates, bassist Russ Boswell stepped in for Webster; he would then leave the band to join Corey Hart's backing band. Keir Brownstone, formerly with Bob Segarini, became the band's new permanent bassist in mid-1984.
The band's second album At the Feet of the Moon was released in October 1984, and the title track became the group's second Canadian Top 40 hit. This album (and single) was produced by Michael Beinhorn.
Later success (1985–1987)
In 1986, The Parachute Club released their third album, Small Victories. The album included the group's third and final top 40 hit, "Love is Fire", featuring Segato singing a duet with John Oates of Hall & Oates. Oates produced the single, as well as several other Small Victories tracks; The Parachute Club and Mike Jones were credited as producers on the remainder of the album. In 1987, the group's video of their single, "Love Is Fire" received the Juno Award for Video of the Year. Julie Masi left the band after their Canadian tour in support of the album, and was replaced on a session basis for live dates by percussionist/singer Rebecca Jenkins.
In 1987, the group composed and performed four songs for the Canadian and U.S. versions of the anime series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. During 1987, Lauri Conger also left the band, and Aaron Davis of Canadian jazz-fusion band Manteca was brought in as the group's new session keyboard player.
Winding down (1988–1989)
The band (now officially a quintet of Segato, Bryans, Gray, Davidson, and Brownstone) recorded a final non-album single in 1988 ("Big Big World"). Bryans produced; guests included Aaron Davis (keyboards), and vocalists Rebecca Jenkins, Holly Cole and Micah Davis. The band's final performances were in July 1988 at the Ontario Place Forum, in Toronto, where the remaining band members were rejoined by Lauri Conger, filling in for an ill Davis.
In early 1989, the original Parachute Club formally disbanded, with band members going their separate ways. Some members, such as Lorraine Segato and Billy Bryans, continued as professional musicians, while other members, such as Margo Davidson and Lauri Conger, substantially left the music business. Davidson, who died in 2008 at the age of 50, became a creative writer and community activist for the homeless, serving as a director of St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society and as an outreach worker at Eva's Phoenix
In 2005, critic Greg Quill wrote in the Toronto Star that "No musical collective bespoke this city during a specific period as powerfully as Parachute Club did in the 1980s. Their infectious, inclusive, soca-soaked dance music carried important messages about the social changes Toronto was experiencing at the time, about sexual and personal politics, about the need for hope and courage in an age of confusing, impersonal rhetoric from local policymakers and world leaders."
Advertising controversy (1998)
In 1998, the Parachute Club song "Rise Up" was licensed by EMI Music Canada to McCain Foods Limited for a television commercial for self-rising pizza dough. Members of Parachute Club publicly opposed this commercial use of the song. In a news release issued at the commencement of litigation, band members stated that "(a)s a result of its use on the ad...the song, the people who believe in it and the reputation of its creators have suffered damage within the sphere of public credibility and our personal reputations." A settlement resulted in the band members recovering their music rights from EMI.
Reunion and band revival (2005–2008, 2011–2014)
In 2005, a reconstituted Parachute Club commenced performing, co-headlining a reunion show with Martha and the Muffins and headlining at Toronto's City Roots Festival. The reconstituted band included original members Segato, Bryans, and Gray, as well as Brownstone (who was a member of the band for their second and third albums). Masi, Conger, Steve Webster and Davidson were not part of this revived line-up. New members of the revived line-up were Mystic Walsh and Miranda Walsh (daughters of Eric Walsh, lead singer of Toronto reggae band Messenjah) on vocals, and Ashley Wey on keyboards. By 2008, these new members had been replaced by Chendy Leon Jr, Glenda del Monte and Rebecca Campbell (although Miranda Walsh subbed for an absent Campbell at one 2008 show).
In 2006, The Parachute Club was inducted into the Canadian Indies Hall of Fame. Founding member Margo Davidson died May 17, 2008, aged 50.
Through 2008, the reconstituted band performed on a regular basis, although they did not release any new material. The Parachute Club did not play any dates after August 2008, and the band's website was not updated after this time.
Segato performed "Rise Up" at the state funeral of Jack Layton on August 27, 2011, with the choir of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. The Parachute Club reunited again on September 30, 2011, for a free show in Toronto's David Pecaut Square to celebrate their induction to Canada's Walk of Fame. The band line-up for the reunion consisted of original members Lorraine Segato (vocals), Dave Gray (guitar), and Steve Webster with new recruits Chris Brown (keyboards), Art Avalos (drums) and Vicki Randle (percussion, backing vocals). Billy Bryans, too ill to perform for the entire show, did join the band on drums for their last two numbers, including "Rise Up". Bryans, one of three musicians to be part of every Parachute Club lineup, died April 23, 2012, at age 63, following a long battle with cancer.
Partly at Bryans' insistence that the group continue without him, The Parachute Club decided to stay together to perform gigs. During the 2012 Edmonton (Alberta) Folk Music Festival, the band performed on August 11, 2012, at the volunteer after party and at Stage 2 on August 12. They also played at the Niagara Co-op Expo on 13 October 2012, in St. Catharines, Ontario. For these shows, the Parachute Club now included founding members Lorraine Segato, Dave Gray, Julie Masi, Lauri Conger and Steve Webster. Prior to this reunion, Steve Webster had not played with the group for 27 years, Masi for 25 years and Conger for 24 years.
Segato resumed her solo career with series of solo shows in 2014 and a new album in January 2015. Though the band has issued no formal announcement concerning their current status, The Parachute Club has been inactive since 2014. In 2018 and 2019, Segato produced two new supergroup versions of "Rise Up", one by various Canadian country musicians credited to The Common Cause Collective, and a pop version credited to The New Parachute Collective.
- 1983: The Parachute Club Current/RCA - #23 Canada
- 1984: At the Feet of the Moon Current/RCA - #14 Canada / #98 1984 Year End / #54 1985 Year End
- 1985: Moving Thru the Moonlight Current/RCA; remixes
- 1986: Small Victories Current/RCA - #33 Canada
- 1992: Wild Zone: The Essential Parachute Club BMG; reissued 2006 by EMI International
|Release date||Title||Chart peak||Album|
|July 1983||"Rise Up"||9||The Parachute Club|
|October 1984||"At the Feet of the Moon"||11||At the Feet of the Moon|
|February 1985||"Act of an Innocent"||61|
|June 1985||"Sexual Intelligence"|
|October 1986||"Love Is Fire"||23||Small Victories|
|February 1987||"Love and Compassion"||81|
|May 1987||"Walk to the Rhythm"||90|
|January 1988||"Big Big World"||88||Non-album single|
- 1984: Self Control and Other Smash Club Hits Polydor; "Rise Up"
- 1990: Radio Ffn Powerstation SPV Records; "Innuendo"
- 1996: Party Time, Volume 2: The Ultimate Party Album SPG; "Rise Up"
- 1996: Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music MCA Records; "Rise Up"
- 1998: Hi-NRG Classics: The Definitive 12" Collection Unidisc; "Rise Up"
- 1999: Poptronica Romance Buddha; "Love Is Fire"
- 2000: Party Time SPG; "Rise Up"
- "Parachute Club". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
- KKK//Mama Quilla/Angry Young Woman (Tupperwaros); see Canadian Pop Encyclopedia,Biography of Mama Quilla II Archived 2012-07-16 at archive.today; www.jam.canoe.ca.
- Kirk LaPointe (11 May 1985). "CASBY Awards: The people speak". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 74–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Michael Badawoy, Margo Davidson, Juno Award Winner, Dies Archived 2009-07-27 at the Wayback Machine, May 23, 2008; www.cd989.com
- St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society Annual Report 2003 Archived 2011-04-28 at the Wayback Machine at p. 6.
- Greg Quill, "Ready to rise up", Toronto Star, 1 September 2005, page G1
- SPIN Media LLC (August 1998). "Exposure: This month's lessons". SPIN. SPIN Media LLC: 36–. ISSN 0886-3032.
- "UPDATE: 'Rise Up' composer would welcome partnership with WorldPride". Daily Extra. Jan 22, 2013. Andrea Houston
- "Soaring with Parachute Club". Winnipeg Free Press, John Einarson 10/19/2014
- Greg Quill, "Ready to rise up; Parachute Club reunion a programming coup for the City Roots festival at Distillery District: Mixture of new and old band members rekindle dance music with a message". Toronto Star, September 1, 2005.
- "Canada's Walk of Fame". Canadaswalkoffame.com. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "Lorraine Segato remembers Billy Bryans | CTV News". Ctv.ca. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "Iconic band Parachute Club plays St. Catharines co-op event | Events | St. Catharines Standard". Stcatharinesstandard.ca. 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "The Parachute Club releases remix version of ‘Rise Up’". Toronto Star, June 23, 2014.
- "Canadian Country Music Stars Cover '80s Anthem 'Rise Up'". iHeartRadio Canada, September 8, 2018.
- "New Versions Of 'Rise Up' Released". iHeartRadio Canada, July 12, 2019.
- "RPM Top 100 Albums - November 12, 1983" (PDF).
- "RPM Top 100 Albums - February 9, 1985" (PDF).
- "RPM Albums of 1984 - January 5, 1985" (PDF).
- "RPM Top Albums of 1985 - December 28, 1985" (PDF).
- "RPM Top 100 Albums - December 27, 1986" (PDF).