Lighthouse is a Canadian rock band formed in 1968 in Toronto, Ontario. Their sound included horns, string instruments, and vibraphone; their music reflected elements of rock music, jazz, classical music, and swing. They won Juno Awards for Best Canadian Group of the Year in 1972, 1973, and 1974.
Lighthouse was formed in 1968 in Toronto by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist Paul Hoffert. The two met on a flight from New York City to Toronto, and discussed forming a band structured around a rock rhythm section, jazz horn section, and classical string section. Prokop had admired Ralph Cole’s playing when they shared the bill at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, so he invited him to Toronto to be the band’s guitarist. Prokop and Hoffert assembled the rest of the group from friends, studio session musicians, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra members, and proceeded to make a demo recording.
Prokop and Hoffert took the demo to MGM Records in New York, who signed the band. Two days later they had a manager, Vinnie Fusco, from Albert Grossman’s office, who overturned the MGM contract and made a deal with RCA Victor.
Lighthouse made its performing debut on May 14, 1969, at the Rock Pile in Toronto, introduced by Duke Ellington with the words, “I’m beginning to see the Light…house”. The band originally consisted of 13 members.
One of the first Lighthouse concerts was at Carnegie Hall, and in its first year the band also played at Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Toronto, Boston, the Atlantic City Pop Festival, and the Monterey and Newport Jazz Festivals. A free concert at Toronto City Hall in the summer of 1969 drew a reported crowd of 25,000. Their first album, Lighthouse, was released in 1969 by RCA from RCA’s Toronto Eastern Sound Studio.
Their next album, Suite Feeling, was also recorded in 1969 at Toronto Eastern Sound Studio. It featured two cover songs: The Band’s “Chest Fever” and The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”. Their third and final album for RCA was also the last one for original lead singer Pinky Dauvin. The album Peacing It All Together was recorded in RCA’s Music Centre of the World Hollywood Studios. The songs “Feel So Good”, “If There Ever Was a Time”, and “The Chant” were minor hits in Canada during the band’s time with RCA. Lighthouse was invited to perform at Woodstock that year, but turned it down.
In the summer of 1970, Lighthouse represented Canada and Ontario at Expo ’70 in Japan. The band appeared at the Strawberry Fields Festival in August 1970, followed by the Isle of Wight Festival where they performed two nights, along with The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Chicago, Miles Davis, and The Who. (by wikipedia)
Lighthouse had a big big sound for its time, it seemed to be all things to everyone: serious arrangements/fun grooves,pop/folk, harmonies/stinging leads, sweeping granduer/hard-ass rock. You could take your mom to the show, but feel none the geekier for it. It was truly a Canadian institution, but this raw almost unknown record is where it all started. Still, I bet there are few Canadians who have heard this particular record let alone know who Pinky Dauvin is. At the time of this LP, their first release, there were few bands as democratic as Lighthouse, regardless of the seemingly huge size of the group. I was shocked and excited when they played our Highschool Auditorium back in the fall of 1969. As far as my buddies and I were concerned there had never been a band like this before. They wailed, they chirped, they blasted, and besides, these thirteen guys barely fit on the stage together.
Mountain Man, the opening track, is a true hippy anthem, and might just be Lighthouse’s finest tune. Not to say it was all downhill from there by any means, but this tune shows a balanced band, earnestly working together to create a beautiful cacaphony. Just listen to the way Ralph Cole’s guitar screams amid the honking sea of horns. At this time Lighthouse was like a highschool band, but the best one you have ever heard in your life. Lighthouse before Bob Mcbride was a far less poppy affair and Mountain Man really shows off Lighthouse’s collective chops. You may want to note however that this old RCA release does suffer from muddy production values at times. Some of the tunes sound very dated today. (by vingaton)
Consequently, you might think that The Byrds’ Eight Miles High would be innapropriate for such a large-scale group. However, Lighthouse tears it up in a bold punchy rendition that must have surely given fellow Toronto boy David Clayton Thomas and his song- stealing BS&T crew some pause for thought. On the flip-side of this bombasity, Marsha Marsha is a pleasant little ditty. The real barnburner on this groundbreaking record is their version of Richie Havens’ No Opportunity Necessary.
The first Lighthouse record has been largely ignored, even by fans, but I would suggest that they pull it out and give it a spin for old times sake. I bet you will be surprised. Seeing this awesome band live back in the late sixties was a thrill, and it made my Torontonian heart proud as a young lad. I am very glad to see them recognized here in these amazing archives.
Lighthouse in the studio
Arnie Chycoski (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Ralph Cole (guitar, vocals)
Pinky Dauvin (percussion, vocals)
Grant Fullerton (bass, vocals)
Ian Guenther (violin)
Paul Hoffert (keyboards, vibraphone)
Russ Little (trombone)
Don DiNovo (violin, viola)
Skip Prokop (drums, vocals)
Leslie Schneider (cello)
Howard Shore (saxophone)
Freddy Stone (trumpet, flugelhhorn)
Don Whitton (cello)
01. Mountain Man (Prokop/Devereux/Cole) 4.22
02. If There Ever Was A Time (Prokop) 4.54
03. No Opportunity Necessary (Havens/Williams/Price) 3.03
04. Never Say Goodbye (P. Hoffert/B.Hoffert) 3.21
05. Follow The Stars (Prokop) 4.04
06. Whatever Forever (Hoffert/Prokop) 5.00
07. Eight Miles High (McGuinn/Crosby/Clark) 5.11
08. Marsha Marsha (Prokop) 3.24
09. Ah I Can Feel It (Prokop) 4.45
10. Life Can Be So Simple (Prokop/Devereux) 3.58
11. Chest Fever (Single A side, 1969) (Robertson) 5.05
This is another item I got from Mr. Sleeve … Thanks a lot !!!
Ronald Harry “Skip” Prokop (December 13, 1943 – August 30, 2017)