One of the most infamous ‘names’ in Canadian rock is Bob Segarini. The native of Stockton, California began his musical journey in the late ’50s and in the middle of Beatlemania. After moving to LA, his first formal band was a local group called The Ratz, with Gary Duncan, who’d later go on to form Quick Silver Messenger Service.
Soon after he formed Family Tree with guitarist/keyboardist Jimmy De Cocq, singer Michael Dure, Van Slater on drums and bassist Bill (Kootch) Trochim. They soon gained an almost cult-like following on the West Coast music scene. They released their only lp in the summer of ’68 on RCA Records – MISS BUTTERS considered to be the very first rock opera ever released, and an album that Elton John credits in his top 20 and very influential to his own solo career. Despite the moderate success of the lead off track “Birthday/Dirgeday”, “Melancholy Vaudeville Man,” and “Miss Butters Lament” co-written by Harry Nilsson, they soon disbanded.
Segarini and DeCocq formed Roxy with bassist/singer Randy Bishop soon after, releasing one album in the spring of 1969 on Elektra. But one record was all she wrote for that band as well, despite the success of “Love Love Love,” the eerie and moody “Yesterday’s Song,” and “Rock and Roll Circus.” De Cocq split from Roxy soon after its release, reportedly due to an argument that ensued over the last cigarette during a late night recording session. Segarini and Bishop meanwhile collaborated on their next project almost immediately after Roxy’s demise, joined by ‘Ernie’ Earnshaw (drums), Mike Stull (guitar), and former Family Tree member ‘Kootch’ Trochim to form The Wackers.
Still under contract to Elektra, they released WACKERING HEIGHTS in late 1970. The same year saw Segarini and Bishop team up for the soundtrack to “Vanishing Point,” composing and recording 2 songs for the film, “Dear Jesus God” and ”Over Me.”
The Wackers’ eagerly-awaited follow-up came in ’72 with HOT WACKS but still failed to gain the attention of the overall masses. Feeling a change of scenery would be in order, the band moved to Montreal in the spring of ’73. With guitarist JP Lauzon replacing Stull, the third album, SHREDDER was released in the summer of ’73. Despite a respectable draw in the major Canadian centers, they couldn’t seem to crack the American market and a fourth album, WACK ‘N’ ROLL was shelved.
Soon after, Earnshaw returned to California and Bishop began a solo career. The Wackers soldiered on for a time with new additions — Leon Holt, Norman Vosko and Wayne Cullen — and released one single on Polydor Records, “All I Want To Do Is Love You.”
Segarini, Trochim and Cullen would then form The Dudes, with original April Wine members David and Ritchie Henman, and future April Wine guitarist Brian Greenway. They released their first album in the fall of 1975. Despite the moderate success of “I Just Wanna Dance,” WE’RE NO ANGELS was considered a disappointment by label brass and the band drifted apart the next year, leaving a second, unreleased album in the can.
After relocating to Toronto and cutting a 4 song EP called STARLIGHT on A&M in ’77, which featured BB Gabor on guitar, Keir Bronstein on bass and Mark Bronson on drums, Segarini landed a deal with local Bomb Records and released GOTTA HAVE POP in ’77. Featured were many of the area’s most solid core of performers, including David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat & Tears, Doug Inglis of Goddo, Greg Godovitz of Fludd and Goddo, and former fellow-Dude David Henman.
A good beer always attracts a musician, and many of the area’s locals hung out at Toronto’s Phase One, Eastern Sound and Thunder Sound studios, including Mike St.Denis, Phil Angers, and Drew Winters from Henman’s Debutantes. The record scored rave reviews from the critics, spawned in part by the success of the title track, a remake from The Dudes‘ unreleased second record. The majority of those involved in the lp, and the addition of Pete Kashur on guitar, formed the Segarini Touring Entourage. While doing a live radio performance in Toronto in the spring of 1978, label brass liked it so much that it spawned, appropriately enough ON THE RADIO that summer. Along with a remake of The Wackers‘ “All I Wanna Do Is Love You”, and the Doors’ “People Are Strange”, it also had a version of Duck Deluxe’s “Please, Please, Please”.
Writing the majority of the next project while on a cross-Canada tour, the band returned to the studios and released GOODBYE LA on CBS in ’79. The record was again well-received, and spawned the title track as the first single. The record included remakes of “Day and Night,” “I Hardly Know Her Name,” and “Teenage Love” – gleaned from the heyday of The Wackers, as well as “Please Please Please” from ON THE RADIO being re-vamped. Other notable cuts from a noticeably ‘more mature’ veteran included “I Like The Beatles,” “Who’s Loving You,” and the whimsical “My Baby Is An Airhead,” and included singer/guitarist Garwood Wallace on the sessions. In addition to the production of his own sessions, Segarini kept busy producing other acts, such as the B-Girls, Twitch (w/ Garwood Wallace) and the Detroit band, The Romantics.
But Bomb Records was ticking away and the label folded due to financial problems. Segarini never made it to the unemployment office, as he was picked up by Anthem shortly after. Being the home to such major artists as Rush and Max Webster gave him a strong support vehicle for 1981’s VOX POPULI !, which featured “Voice Of The People,” “Money In The Pocket,” and the second instalment in the “My Baby Is An Airhead” series. But amid a changing musical landscape, he found it hard to keep the people’s attention with his always exploring artistic side, so he retreated to the studio, doing session and production work for the likes of Goddo and other top acts from the Toronto area.
He stayed active in the 80’s doing a regular shift on Toronto’s airwaves, writing jingles for television and radio and hitting the road on regular jaunts. His long-time association with Greg Godovitz carried on in the early 90’s, when they formed The Anger Brothers, performing their hits as well as covers of blues and The Beatles, influential in both their careers. 1995 saw Pacemaker Records remaster GOTTA HAVE POP on CD, including “Groucho Marx” and “Laurel Ann” – 2 tracks which were to be included in the original release but weren’t.
This was followed shortly the next year by MaGaDa Records re-cutting VOX POPULI. In ’97 Pacemaker would also release a compilation of The Dudes entitled ALL THE YOUNG DUDES – ALL THE OLD DEMOS. The string of re-releases of his material saw Segarini record for the first time in over 15 years that same year when he teamed up with long-time friends Terry Draper of Klaatu fame and David Henman from The Dudes. Their club act mutated into Cats & Dogs, independently releasing a self-titled disc
His relationship with Bullseye Records began in 2001, when he appeared on TAKIN CARE OF CHRISTMAS – originally recorded in 1979 by the Segarini band and released on Epic Records. In 2009, after a successful stint on Sirius Satellite Radio’s channel 85, Segarini began writing weekly columns for FYI Music – an online magazine devoted to the music industry. His thrice-weekly column, titled “Don’t Believe a Word I Say”, was named after his 1979 single from Gotta Have Pop. This column morphed into a blog including other writers which he began to coordinate in 2011.
WACK N ROLL was released on CD on a limited basis in 2011 when The Wackers gathered for a reunion concert at Cherry Cola’s in Toronto on July 24, 2011.