Even in his first band fresh out of high school, The Quotations, Kim Mitchell marched to the strum of his own guitar. The Sarnia, Ont. native then formed The Grass Company, which evolved into Big Al’s Band. After relocating to Toronto in the early 70s, they changed their name to Zooom. After going on a sabbatical in Greece, he returned to Toronto and formed Max Webster, which became one of Canada’s most under-rated, yet talented groups (5 gold, 1 platinum record). Leaving the group in 1980 to go it on his own would provide Mitchell the freedom to experiment with things outside of Max’s realm proved to be his best commercial decision.
Originally quoted as simply needing a break from Max, Mitchell signed with Alert Records and released his self-titled debut solo effort in 1982. The 5-song EP served notice he was capable of putting out radio-friendly pop tunes outside the Max Webster umbrella. “Miss Demeanor” and “Kids In Action” were released as singles and the Ep is highly collectable due to its low pressings number.
AKIMBO ALOGO, his first lp came out in ’84 following his first Juno for ‘most promising male vocalist’ a year earlier. “Go For Soda”, the record’s first single, was instantly adopted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the US as their rallying cry. The pounding rhythm of “Lager and Ale” quickly made it the second single and most bar dj’s favourite anthem. Interestingly, Mitchell renewed his song-writing partnership with ex-Max lyricist Pye Dubois for the record. On the lighter side, “Feel It Burn” and “All We Are” showed the diversity of Mitchell and helped push the album platinum.
SHAKIN’ LIKE A HUMAN BEING came out a year and a half later and was instantly met with rave reviews. 4 singles were released and the airplay given “Patio Lanterns”, “Alana Loves Me”, “In Your Arms” and “Easy To Tame” followed, keeping the album on the charts and airwaves for more than a year. Keeping true to the frantic sound he was known for “That’s The Hold” and “Get Lucky Boys and Girls” again showed why Mitchell and Dubois were one of rock’s best song-writing duos, further proven by the eclectic “Cameo Spirit” and down-right catchy “City Girl”. By the time he took home the Juno for ‘best album’ he’d been around the world and the record was triple platinum – thank you very much …
ROCKLAND hit the shelves in ’89 and went double platinum. Backed by the first single, “Rock and Roll Duty”, the record showed a maturity in writing and stayed true to the tight licks that had become one of his trademarks. He took home his third Juno the next year for ‘male vocalist’. The ensuing tour provided the material for 1990’s I AM A WILD PARTY, a mostly-live record with the title track and “Deep Dive” done in the studio. The record showcased Kim’s legendary live magnetism, highlighted on “Lager and Ale”. And though he rarely perorms Max material live, he payed homage to what brought him to the dance with “Battle Scar”, guitar improvisations and all, also allowing bassist Peter Fredette to showcase his talents as a superb drummer as well.
1991’s AURAL FIXATIONS showed a more experimental side, his first record ever without Pye Dubois. “America” was released as the first single. A sarcastic view of the US by one of Canada’s most low-keyed but most fitting spokesmen, the song represented a different side of the man and artist. “World’s Such A Wonder” and “Big Smoke” both re-affirmed his willingness to experiment without losing touch with what the legions of fans loved about him and the album went gold. He returned with ITCH in 1994. But problems with management saw four singles, “Acrimony”, “Your Face Or Mine”, “Wonder Where and Why” and “Lemon Wedge”, but no gold for the first time. A greatest hits package came out the next year, which saw two new tracks and reworkings of a few other classics and Kim parted ways with Alert.
He reunited with his old Max pals in ’95 for a series of shows and gossip had a possible full-fledged reunion. But nothing came of it or the new songs which had been recorded. He returned solo and came out with KIMOSABE in ’98 on Chinook Records, which contained some of his tighest work in years. The lead-off single “Skinny Buddah” hit the charts and was followed by the title-track and “Monkey Shine”.
In 2003 he also found himself on tv, hosting a ‘where are they now’ styled musical documentary called “Undiscovered Countries – Been There Done That”. Still touring non-stop, a greatest hits DVD and CD 2 disc box set, FILL YOUR HEAD WITH ROCK was released in 2005. The DVD portion contained live concert footage and also included a version of the Cream standard, “Crossroads.”
He signed a deal with Koch Records and released AIN’T LIFE AMAZING in 2007. Praised by the critics as some of his best work in years, the time out of the studio showed a rejuvenated and ergetic album full of Mitchell’s trademark slick licks and tongue in cheek lyrics, evidenced by tracks like the lead-off title track, “Rock That Rhyme,” “Dreamthieves,” and “N’Awlin’ Nights.”
Over 3 decades on the scene has brought Kim Mitchell to the point where he’s considered one of the most influential and original members of Canadian rock’s elite. He’s become a die-hard’s cult fave and one of the most respected people in the industry, co-writing, producing, or appearing on albums including Rush, Coney Hatch and Lee Aaron among others. He continues to be one of the top draws at outdoor festivals and has earned a reputation as one of rock’s hardest-working stars.