When Liverpool (argued as the first Beatles tribute act) had run its course by early 1976, the Toronto-based band had recorded four singles for Taurus Records after switching to originals, played some of the biggest venues at the time, including LA’s Whiskey A Go Go and the first Beatles festival, “Beatlefest” in New York City, and is rumoured to have been the inspiration behind the Broadway show “Beatlemania.” While touring North America for over four years, they shared stages with Charlie Daniels, Captain Beefheart, Dr Hook, Buddy Rich, Rush, and Max Webster.
The band’s second formation occurred in mid 76, when bassist Brian Miessner and drummer Laurie Currie (both Saskatchewan natives) stayed in Toronto with Malcolm Buchanan on keyboards. They added Gary O’Connor, who’d left Liverpool (and played with Cat prior to that) before its official demise to form the short-lived Kid Rainbow on guitars, who would also assume the role of singer and frontman – and Aerial was born.
After touring the local club circuit for a short period, they signed with Ray Danniels, previous chief behind the fledgling Taurus Records, and his new label, Anthem, which also soon signed Max Webster and Rush. They continued honing their chops on the club circuit around Ontario while writing their own material. Entering Toronto’s Phase One Studios in the spring of ’78 with producer George Semkiw, they came out with their debut IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT that summer. With synthesizers and pop guitar leading the way, the album was full of simple arrangements in slick production that instantly reminded the listener of Beatles riffs. It spawned the single “Easy Love,” written by O’Connor, which cracked the Canadian top 40 charts in several markets, and was followed that fall with “If Only I Were Older.”
Interestingly, the flip side to “Easy Love” was “Race The Sun,” written by Currie and the only two tracks not written by Miessner. This lack of being able to contribute more helped lead O’Connor to leave the group early in ’79. Tim White was brought in as the new singer/guitarist, and the band carried on by releasing their follow-up album MANEUVERS in the summer of 1980, with Ian Thomas producing.
The lead single “Moments Like This” kept true to the first record, with keyboards and guitar driven melodies and Miessner handling the bulk of the writing. But neither the lead single, or its follow up “Tears That You Cry” made an impression on the charts, despite the band touring the US in support.
The band called it quits early the next year, and everyone went off to do their own projects. O’Connor signed with Capitol after leaving the group, then with RCA while releasing a pair of albums as Gary O. He also carved a niche as one of the country’s top songwriters, penning hits of the likes of Molly Hatchet, 38 Special, and Eddie Money, among others. Currie returned home to Saskatchewan and has played with a variety of jazz ensembles. Miessner went on to do session work in Toronto, and also reunited with former Liverpool members Rick Pearson and Dave Moyle to reform that band.
A resurgance in interest in the group spawned Magada Records to re-release both their albums in the label’s Heritage Series collection as a single CD.