Originally from Brantford, Ontario, Ray Materick came from a musical household, where his father played in a dance band prior to becoming an ordained preacher in the early ’60s. But although the trumpet was pushed on him as a child, he found his brother’s love of Elvis, Buddy, and Chuck Berry, more appealing. As a teen he turned to the guitar (which he’d tried around age 8, but found it ‘too difficult.’) and became interested in the songwriters, like Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan.
His first group was while still a teen, in The Chevron Sextet, which only lasted doing high school dances until he moved to Toronto in 1970. Two years later, after gaining some experience on-stage on coffee house circuit, he signed a deal with Kanata Records (argued as one of Canada’s first truly indie labels).
London picked up the distribution, and working with producer David Bird, he released his debut solo album, SIDESTREETS later that year. Roots-based folk with a fresh approach, it produced a pair of singles that both made the Canadian top 40 – “Season Of Plenty” b/w “Goodbye,” and “Hard Life Alone.” Hailed by the critics, the record was an honestly-recorded collection of early adult contemporary tracks.
After Kanata closed its doors, he moved up to WEA and its new arm, Asylum Records. Produced by Eugene Martynec (Kensington Market, Rough Trade, Queen City Kids, etc), NEON RAIN was released in the summer of 1974. Along with the top 10 “Linda Put The Coffee On,” which was one of Canada’s first CanCon staples, it also featured the social commentary of “What This Country Needs Is Another War,” “It’s All So New To Me,” and “The Mystic Highway Suite.”
Produced by Don Potter, BEST FRIEND OVER NIGHT followed in ’75, and generated another top 20 hit in “Feelin’ Kinda Lucky Tonight” b/w “Blue Castle Lady.” This was followed by “Northbound Plane.”
But a year later, MIDNIGHT MATINEE saw the lead-off “Ride Away” fade off the chart before cracking the top 20, and was followed by FEVER IN RIO in 1978, which featured the single, “Only A Fool,” as well as the title track, and “What You Want.” Both of those albums featured a young Daniel Lanois on mandolin. The earlier songs were getting new life through various compilation albums, but the industry was going through changes, and the singer/songwriter genre was being phased out for awhile.
After leaving WEA, his first album was self-titled in 1981 after forming his own label, Escape Records. Co-produced with Mark Stafford and Sonny Grasley, it was praised by the critics and boasted a pair of singles – “Bring On The Light” and “Heartbreak.” He did a few shows around the GTA, but then vanished from the business all together.
He re-emerged in 1993, with HARLEY BRO, produced by Tim Gibbons. It featured the title track, the lethargically solemn “Beer and Cigarettes,” and “Something Like That.” But just as he had appeared, he was gone again.
He wouldn’t return to the spotlight again until 2000. After forming his own KingKong.com label, which specialized in the singer/songwriter genre, he released a string of six albums over the next year and a half – each full of inter-reflection and emotion from an artist who had been all but gone from the scene for 20 years.
In 2002, he released THE SONGWRITER, which was later repackaged by Warner’s Linus Entertainment as a two disc set, which also included a dozen tracks from his earlier catalogue, entitled LIFE & TIMES. It also featured a re-recording of “Feeling Kinda Lucky Tonight.”
His next output would be after the LIVE AT THE EL MOCAMBO album in ’04. He began leaning towards a religious record-buying audience, and released THE BOOK OF LOVE in ’06 on Christian Music Canada, and then the same year, the double album RAGGED KINGDOM on New Dawn Records.
In the late ’00s he started up a new project called Peace On Earth, who released a video in 2011 for the song “River of Blood,” in anticipation of a new album that wasn’t released. But within a year, he formed another short-lived project, Home Sweet Home.
In 2012, tribute to Materick was paid through two concerts, in Toronto and Hamilton, respectively known as “Honouring Our Own,” run by an organization of the same name honouring musicians, while living, who have made a lifelong contribution to Canadian music.