Forming in 1975 like so many other groups throughout time, Starchild started as a bunch of friends jamming in garages after school. With Rick Whittier on vocals, guitarist Bob Sprenger (ex of The Upstarts and Inner Sanctum), Neil Light on bass and Bill Coutts on drums, they went under the name The Cult, covering The Beatles and other light pop hits of the day, until management changed their name to Gaslight.
They toured the area, gaining valuable live experience, but wanted to experiment in heavier beats. Everyone was a science fiction fan, and they adopted their name from the popular Starchild Trilogy novels. They soon outgrew the Cambridge, Ont scene and moved to Toronto in ’76 with new drummer Greg “Fritz” Hinz.
They caught the attention of manager Bruce Wilson, and Greg Hambleton, owner of Tuesday Records, and began working the Toronto circuit. They were lined up with a young, energetic producer/engineer by the name of Daniel Lanois. And by the summer of ’76, they’d recorded enough material in the makeshift studio in his mother’s basement in Ancaster, Ont to weed out a two-song demo. The songs were part of the band’s expanding live repetoire, and Hambleton used the demo of “Party Of The Toads” and “Tough Situations” to shop around for a label.
He scored them a deal with Axe Records out of Toronto in ’77, with distribution from London Records, and their debut, CHILDREN OF THE STARS, was released the following spring. The album received moderate airplay across the country after its release, mostly as a promotional tool for the band’s live appearances. But disco was still hanging on, and new wave was emerging on the scene. Add the fact that weren’t any 3 and a half minute radio friendly commercial songs to release as singles, and it was an uphill battle. Being a very progressive rock style (influenced by other Canadian acts like Rush and Saga) didn’t help either. Still, they scored some opening slots for fellow Canadian rockers Triumph, Goddo, and Moxy, among others into ’79.
By the end of the year, Light was also gone, and was briefly replaced by Bill Mair, before he too was gone and Toronto native Wayne Brown was in. Shortly after, Hinz also left, joining Helix, and was replaced by Dixie Lee. He was fresh off a stint with the British band Lone Star, who’d played in the first incarnation of Ozzy Osbourne’s first solo project.
They continued to work the circuit across the country while continuing to write material for their follow-up album. But label execs wanted the band to change their image and sound, and capitalize on the more trendy new wave scene that was overtaking the industry. The band was more interested in Judas Priest and Iron Maiden than becoming Canada’s answer to The Knack, and their deal with Axe was over.
Hambleton released the single “No Control for Rock n Roll” b/w “Detroit Rocker” on his own Tuesday Records in ’81 to little fanfare, and early the next spring, took them to Metalworks Studios, where they recorded the tracks “Steamroller Rock” and “I Need A Woman Tonight.” The demos were used to shop around for a new record deal, which seemed imminent with Attic Records (Anvil, Triumph, among others). But road fatigue had taken its toll, and just before auditioning for label execs, the band packed it in.
Although Starchild never made it overseas, their record still oddly sold better than at home, and in fact, “No Control For Rock n Roll” was covered by a band from Holland in the 1980s. Following the breakup, Sprenger hooked up with Light again and formed Straight Up, and then Thief In The Night. They opened for Trooper and Platinum Blonde, among others, before disbanding in 1990. Sprenger then recorded a pair of albums with the power trio Distant Thunder in the early ’90s, then hooked up with Light again (with comedian Ron Pardo of “history Bites” on drums and his brother Jason on lead vocals) to form the cover band Wake The Giants in 2001.