Originally from London, England, ten year-old Nick Gilder’s family moved to Canada in 1961. After settling in Vancouver, he found his love for music, entertaining family and friends as a youngster, then graduating to garage bands before joining Rasputin with high school friend and guitarist Jim McCulloch. The foundation of the group evolved into Sweeney Todd, which also featured Budd Marr on bass, Dan Gaudin on keyboards and drummer John Booth. Their style was undaunted, their glam-rock image the first brewed in Canada. With a loyal following and an unquestionable flare they quickly became staples of the BC bar scene.
The band was soon writing some original material and was recording in producer Martin Shaer’s Vancouver studio when they were signed to London Records in late 1975. They finished the sessions and began ‘testing the AM waters’ with the singles “Rock n Roll Story” and “Sweeney Todd Folder”. Their debut album, self-titled, was released in the summer of ’76. With the majority of the tracks written by Gilder & McCulloch, it captured the vitality of the emerging west coast sound and backed by the monster hit “Roxy Roller” which eventually topped the Canadian charts, Sweeney Todd became an instant household name. They’d been nominated for a number of Junos when the band caught the attention of Chrysalis Records in the US. When it was revealed they were more interested in the song-writing duo of Gilder & McCullouch than the band as a whole, dissension broke out.
The two founding members of Sweeney Todd left the band that same year and ventured off to LA, where they began work on Gilder’s first solo album. Ironically, it was during this ‘off-period’ for them that saw their old group release two new versions of “Roxy Roller”, one with Gilder’s original replacement Clark Perry, and another with a 16 year-old Bryan Adams in ’77. It was also Adams who accepted the Juno that year when the version with Gilder won for best new group.
Their first album with Adams, ’77’s IF WISHES WERE HORSES, also included the songs “Say Hello Say Goodbye” and “Tantalize”, both composed by Gilder & McCulloch. But with both re-releases of “Roxy Roller” came legal battles. Both times the remakes were stopped, peaking at #90, then #99 on Billboard. Chrysalis thought the best idea would be for Gilder to release ANOTHER version (on the American release only), and in the summer of ’77, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE was released, which also featured “Rated X” and his own version of “Tantalize”.
Gilder returned to LA and began work with producers Peter Coleman (Suzi Quatro, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Pat Benatar, The Knack) and Mike Chapman, whose credits also included the likes of Suzi Quatro, as well as Blondie and Sweet. CITY NIGHTS came out the next year and featured the classic “Hot Child In The City” which topped Billboard, and “Here Comes The Night”, which reached number one here in Canada. Gilder’s inner-circle admiration was by this time already growing, when Benatar did her version of “Rated X”, a year after the German version of “Hot Child” by Deiter Bohlen and two years after Suzi Quatro redid “Roxy Roller”.
His next release was 1979’s FREQUENCY. The harder-edged lead-off track, “You Really Rock Me” quickly shot up the charts that summer and peaked in the top 20. Gilder’s pop sensibility still was evident tho when “Metro Jets” was released as the second single. Other noteable tracks included “Time After Time”, redone by Toni Basil in ’82, and “Electric Love”.
With a better offer in hand, Gilder signed with Casablanca before year’s end – home to such artists as KISS, Angel, Donna Summer, and The Village People. ROCK AMERICA hit the shelves in 1980. Backed by the singles “Catch 22” and title track, the album demonstrated his growing maturity as a songwriter and gained critical acclaim. BODY TALK MUZIK came out the next year and again proved him to be one of Canada’s most prolific artists, evidenced by the single “Prove It”.
While watching over an ever-changing musical landscape, he wrote “Is It Love” for Bette Midler in 1983, worked with Martin Briley and also wrote the chart-topping “Warrior” for Patty Smyth & Scandal in ’84. He snagged a deal with RCA in ’85. He resurfaced later that year with some music he’d written while on leave of absence, recording for the first time without McCulloch. The eagerly anticipated self-titled album caught the attention of the critics, with the singles “Let Me In” & “Footsteps”,the lead-off track “Screams Of Angels” and the self-reflective “Fingerprints” quickly gaining rave reviews. Yet again he occupied himself by working with other artists, including Patty Smyth’s solo debut, Pat Benatar and Joe Cocker. His established catalogue never really left during his latest hiatus either. The turn of the decade saw Lou Cass, Linus of Hollywood, Disposable God Squad, D’Priest and Men Without Shame all cover his music. 1996 also saw Hagfish cover “Hot Child” for the movie soundtrack to ‘Barb Wire’, featuring Silicone Pam.
He returned in 1997 with STAIRWAYS, released on Spinner Records, which featured The Drive as backup band and featured “Long Time Coming”, the title-track, “Truth” and “Crossroads”. The time off however seemed to revitalize the singer’s onstage performance, and he quickly became a favourite in the ‘classic rock weekend’ outdoor festival scene. ’99 saw the release of LONG TIME COMING, with his new band Time Machine. The album mostly contained re-workings of the previous album, as well as new mixes of his two biggest hits – “Hot Child In The City” and “Roxy Roller”.
Throughout his illustrious career, Nick Gilder has recorded ten Top 20 hits in the US, three of which reached #1 here at home. He’s worked with some of the business’ top performers, and the variety of artists to cover his songs testify to his diverse influences, totalling over 20 million copies worldwide. 2001 saw one of Canadian rock’s true superstars release his first greatest hits album. Compiling 25 years of a legendary career, THE BEST OF NICK GILDER – HOT CHILD IN THE CITY was released by BMG and contains some of the most dominant music from the ’70’s thru to the ’90’s. Gilder started performing again with Jim McCulloch under the guise of Sweeney Todd the same year. The two are currently working in Vancouver on all-new material.