Kensington Market

  • by Nick Warburton

    The original line-up was formed in May 1967, by Sault St. Marie singer Keith McKie (b. November 20, 1947, St. Albans, Herts, England, emigrated to Canada in April 1953), after his former band, The Vendettas, had broken up. The Paupers’ former manager Bernie Finkelstein saw potential in McKie and decided to build a group around him using the money he got from Albert Grossmen (for selling his interests in The Paupers’ ) to finance the project. McKie was soon joined by former Bobby Kris and The Imperials guitarist Eugene Martynec (b. March 28, 1947, Germany). The pair then added McKie¹s old friend (and former Vendettas) Darou (b. January 6, 1943, Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada) who was currently living in New York, and drummer Jimmy Watson (b. August 23, 1950, Belfast, Northern Ireland), who happened to be Van Morrison¹s cousin.

    The band¹s first two singles were on the local Stone label and were recorded before former Luke & The Apostles singer Luke Gibson (b. November 5, 1946, Toronto, Canada) was invited to join in early August 1967. “Mr John” was a minor Canadian hit, reaching #76 on Canada¹s RPM chart. In September the band recorded 6 tracks in Montreal for the soundtrack to the film “Ernie¹s Game”. Around the same time, Darou and Watson guested on Ian & Sylvia¹s single “Candy Girl”. Towards the end of the year, the band jammed with Gordon Lightfoot guitarist David Rea and he was so impressed by their material, that he got Felix Pappalardi up from New York to hear the band.

    The group was immediately signed up to Warner Brothers and travelled to New York to record at Century Studio. Kensington Market¹s debut single on the label came out in a picture sleeve and reached #59 on the RPM chart. The band¹s debut album was released the same month, and displayed a style not that dissimilar to Jefferson Airplane.

    Kensington Market played at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The band also made several excursions south of the border, including appearances at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit on October 19-20 and performing at San Francisco¹s Fillmore West on 7 September. University of Toronto graduate, John Mills Cockell (b. May 19, 1943, Toronto, Canada) joined the band in early 1969 and the group¹s music became more adventurous.

    Kensington Market¹s second album was more experimental but was not a success. By July, the band had been reduced to a duo featuring McKie and Gibson but this did not last very long. Gibson subsequently reformed Luke & The Apostles while Martynec went on to work with Bruce Cockburn, Rough Trade and Queen City Kids, among others. A reformed line-up, featuring only Gibson and McKie from the original line up, played at the Toronto Rock Revival concert held at the Warehouse on May 2, 1999.

    avenue road
    AVENUE ROAD (1968)
    I Would Be The One
    Speaking Of Dreams
    Colour Her Sunshine
    Aunt Violet’s Knee
    Coming Home Soon
    Presenting Myself Lightly
    Looking Glass
    Girl Is Young
    AARDVARK (1969)
    Help Me
    If It’s Love
    I Know You
    The Thinker
    Half Closed Eyes
    Said I Could Be Happy
    Ow-ing Man
    I Am
    Think About The Times
    Have You Come To See

bobby kris & the imperials