Ian & Sylvia were a Canadian folk and country music duo which consisted of Ian and Sylvia Tyson, née Fricker. They began performing together in 1959, married in 1964, and divorced and stopped performing together in 1975.
Ian Tyson, CM, AOE was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1933. In his teens, he decided upon a career as a rodeo rider. Recovering from injuries sustained from a fall during the mid-1950s, he started learning guitar. In the late 1950s, he relocated to Toronto, aspiring to a career as a commercial artist. He also started playing clubs and coffeehouses in Toronto. By 1959 he was performing music as a full-time occupation.
Sylvia Tyson, née Fricker, CM, was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1940. While still in her teens, she started frequenting the folk clubs of Toronto.
The two started performing together in Toronto in 1959. By 1962, they were living in New York City where they caught the attention of manager Albert Grossman, who managed Peter, Paul and Mary and would soon become Bob Dylan’s manager. Grossman secured them a contract with Vanguard Records and they released their first album late in the year.
Their first album, self-titled Ian & Sylvia, on Vanguard Records consists mainly of traditional songs. There were British and Canadian folk songs, spiritual music, and a few blues songs thrown into the mix. The album was moderately successful and they made the list of performers for the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
Four Strong Winds, their second album, was similar to the first, with the exception of the inclusion of the early Dylan composition, “Tomorrow is a Long Time”, and the title song “Four Strong Winds”, which was written by Ian Tyson. “Four Strong Winds” was a major hit in Canada and ensured their stardom.
The two married in June 1964; they also released their third album, Northern Journey, that year. It included a blues song written by her, “You Were on My Mind”, which was subsequently recorded by both the California group We Five (a 1965 #1 on the Cashbox chart, #3 on the Billboard Hot 100) and British folk rock singer Crispian St. Peters (#36 in 1967). A recording of “Four Strong Winds” by Bobby Bare made it to #3 on the country charts around that time.
On the Northern Journey album was the song “Someday Soon”, a composition by him that would rival “Four Strong Winds” in its popularity. (Both songs would eventually be recorded by dozens of singers.)
Their fourth album, Early Morning Rain, consisted in large part of new songs. They introduced the work of the couple’s fellow Canadian songwriter and performer Gordon Lightfoot through the title song and “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me”. They also recorded songs “Darcy Farrow” by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell, being the first artists to record these three songs. Additionally, they recorded a number of their own compositions.
They performed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Play One More, their offering of 1965, showed a move toward the electrified folk-like music that was becoming popular with groups like the Byrds and the Lovin’ Spoonful. The title tune used horns to evoke the mariachi style.
In 1967, they released two albums, one recorded for Vanguard, the other for MGM. These two efforts, So Much For Dreaming and Lovin’ Sound, were far less dynamic presentations. At this time they were doing a weekly TV program for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
They relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, where they recorded two albums; one to fulfill the terms of their Vanguard contract, the other to supply MGM with a second (and last) album for that label. The albums can be defined as early country rock music; Nashville for Vanguard was cut in February 1968, one month before The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, widely considered the first collaboration of rock and Nashville players. Three of Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes” songs are included on these albums; most of the rest were written by Ian or Sylvia.
In 1969, Ian & Sylvia formed the country rock group Great Speckled Bird. In addition to participating in the cross-Canada rock-and-roll rail tour Festival Express, they recorded a self-titled album for the short-lived Ampex label. Produced by Todd Rundgren, the record failed when Ampex was unable to establish widespread distribution. Thousands of copies never left the warehouse, and it has become a much sought-after collector’s item. Initially, the album artist was given as Great Speckled Bird but later copies had a sticker saying that it featured the duo.
Ian & Sylvia’s last two albums were recorded on Columbia Records. The first, 1971’s Ian and Sylvia, not to be confused with their 1962 release titled Ian & Sylvia, consists largely of mainstream country-flavored songs. This album was released on CD, with extra tracks, as The Beginning of the End in 1996. Their second Columbia record, 1972’s You Were On My Mind, featured a later incarnation of Great Speckled Bird. The songs range from hard country rock to middle-of-the-road country material. Neither of the Columbia albums sold well. They were eventually combined and released as 1974’s The Best of Ian and Sylvia.
In 1972, Ian & Sylvia performed the song “Let Her Alone” for Walt Disney Productions’ live-action drama Run, Cougar, Run. Ian also served as the film’s narrator.
By 1975, Ian & Sylvia had stopped performing together and soon afterwards were divorced.
Ian retreated to western Canada, returned to ranching, and focused on his solo career.
Sylvia wrote, performed, and involved herself in various projects. In recent years, she has been recording new material, working as a member of the group Quartette, and performing a one-woman show entitled River Road and Other Stories.
The duo’s son, Clay Tyson (Clayton Dawson Tyson, born 1966), is also a musician and recording artist.
In August 1986 a stellar cast of folk singers who had recorded or written their songs, including Gordon Lightfoot, Judy Collins, Murray McLauchlan and Emmylou Harris, was assembled in Ontario, Canada, for a reunion concert.
Ian & Sylvia sang their signature song, “Four Strong Winds”, at the 50th anniversary of the Mariposa Folk Festival on July 11, 2010, in Orillia, Ontario. (by wikipedia)
And here´s they third album:
The duo continue to fill out their sound on another collection of mostly traditional material, with John Herald (guitar), Monte Dunn (mandolin and guitar), and Eric Weissberg and Russ Savakus (bass) backing Ian & Sylvia’s own guitar and autoharp. The few originals stand out much more than the traditional updates on this LP; Tyson’s “Four Rode By” and “Some Day Soon” clearly point toward his future C&W/cowboy direction, and Fricker’s “You Were on My Mind” remains their best (and best-known) song. (by Richie Unterberger)
Some of the duo’s best moments, and some of their worst. Fricker’s “You Were On My Mind” is probably their best original: catchy folk-pop, it later became a hit single for We Five. Tyson’s two tunes – “Four Rode By” and “Some Day Soon” – are also memorable, and “Texas Rangers” is a stirring ballad with a dramatic a capella presentation. On the other hand, “Little Beggarman” is the sort of corny sing-a-long fluff that gave folk singers a bad name, and “Moonshine Can” isn’t much better. The one gospel song is overly familiar (“Swing Down Chariot”), and the narrative songs (“The Ghost Lover,” “Captain Woodstock’s Courtship”) are only intermittently captivating. (by Wilson & Allroys)
Sylvia (Tyson) Fricker (vocals)
Ian Tyson (guitar, vocals)
Monte Dunn (mandolin, guitar)
John Herald (guitar)
Russ Savakus (bass)
Eric Weissberg (bass)
01. You Were On My Mind (Fricker) 2.47
02. Moonshine Can (Traditional) 2.16
03. The Jealous Lover (Traditional) 2.55
04. Four Rode (Tyson) 2.42
05. Brave Wolfe (Traditional) 5.26
06. Nova Scotia Farewell (Traditional) 2.51
07. Some Day Soon (Tyson) 2.21
08. Little Beggarman (Makem) 2.23
09. Texas Rangers (Traditional) 3.27
10. The Ghost Lover (Traditional) 2.46
11. Captain Woodstock’s Courtship (Traditional) 2.56
12. Green Valley (Traditional) 4.03
13. Swing Down, Chariot (Traditional) 2.09