Riding the wave of the psychadelic movement taking the West Coast by storm in the late 1960s, Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck was originally a loose group of stage performers, where everyone had different characters on stage, and guitarist Bob O’Connor was the only actual musician, and was centred around Boston native Kathy Kay as Mother Tucker.
He left to join Medusa, but before long fellow bandmates bassist Charles Faulkner and drummer Hughie Lockhead left when Mother Tuckers vocalist John Patrick Caldwell ( a native of Bristol, England whose original role was the actual talking yellow duck on stage) said he was looking to form an actual musical group. Along with guitarist Roger Law, they hooked up with promoter Cliff Moore and played the Vancouver area, making a couple of trips down the western seaboard to California.
They eventually caught the attention of executives at London Records, who rushed out their first single, “I” b/w “Funny Feeling.” It did nothing on the charts in ’68, but encouraged, the label issued a follow-up, “One Ring Jane” b/w “Kill The Pig” the following spring. When it also failed to make the top 40, the band decided to do things its own way, and formed Duck Records, with distribution through Capitol. They re-released their first two singles, and as they made their rounds around Vancouver, they became regulars at The Retinal Circus, and also made the area’s high school dances part of their regular routine.
After adding Donnie McDougall on guitars and vocals, they entered the Vancouver Recording Company studios with producer Robin Spurgin, and released their debut album, HOMEGROWN STUFF in the fall of ’69, which saw a re-recorded version of “One Ring Jane” get released again, with “Times Are Changing” as its b-side. It became their only US release. A second single, “Little Pony” made its way to the charts, but fell off just as quickly. Primarily written by Law, McDougall, and Caldwell, the music was influenced by everything from the San Fransisco peace movement and traditional country to distorted guitars and spoken word, and contained interesting vibes in songs like “Elevated Platform,” the country-rocker “One Glass For Wine,” “Intermission Poetry,” and “Bye Dye.”
They were originally supposed to appear on an album full of West Coast artists that was to benefit The Cool Aid House, a sanctuary opened in Vancouver for the homeless youth and hippies, but the band pulled out of the commitment at the last minute. They played the back-up role on JK. & Co’s SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER album in ’69, and they toured alongside the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, The Yardbirds, and opened the Pacific Colisseum with Cream. Law’s departure paved the way for his younger brother Les to replace him.
Their sophomore album came in the summer of 1970 in the form of STARTING A NEW DAY. The title track b/w “No One In Particular” from the first album was the only single, which failed to resonate with radio stations or the buying public. More in the same experimental vein as its predecessor, other noteable cuts included “True Blue,” “Middlefield County,” and “Nightfowl.”
But unable to catch a big break, the band split up by early 1971. “Somebody Think” from the first album found its way to a Vancouver-area compilation album called ECHOES IN TIME in the mid ’90s. HOMEGROWN STUFF was re-released on compact disc by EMI in 2001, but without any bonus material. That same year, “Kill The Pig” made its way to a country compilation disc out of Germany.
McDougall gained the most notoriety of any of the members, eventually joining The Guess Who for the first time, and would also end up in a few other of the band’s many lineups over the years. Roger Law died in the mid ’90s in a car collision. Faulkner joined the Wild Root Orchestra for a pair of albums in the early ’80s, then got out of the business all together after a couple of other ill-fated groups.
Caldwell moved back to Toronto, living in the Riverdale area with his Mom who had become disabled. After having a son, his marriage dissolved and he moved back in with his Mom, by now in her 80s and in terrible medical shape. He took care of her until her death. During those years he would often join bar bands, his singing career behind him. He’d mastered the harmonica, and would perform on stage primarily with blues bands. He never wrote nor recorded anything after MTYD. He passed away in 2015 due to liver complications.