Born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan in 1954, Brian Plummer was already playing guitar by the time his family moved to North Battleford in time for him to attend High School. After graduation, he tried to find local work in the business in Saskatoon, but by the time he was 20 he was living in Ottawa, and playing with local band Trina.
The band split before the end of the ’70s, and soon after moving back to Saskatoon, he worked the circuit for a bit and met lyricist Al Higbee. They began writing together, and the raw tapes landed Plummer a deal with Change Records. Recorded at Studio West in Saskatoon and produced by JJ Stewart, his debut album, NO QUESTIONS was released in 1980 and produced a pair of singles – “Money Talks” and “Wizards Have Come.” The album featured guitarist Stacy Heydon, whose resume already included work with Long John Baldry, David Bowie and Iggy Pop as a guitarist and Teenage Head and Hanover as producer. “Money Talks” did well, as did “Jacky Boy,” which was initially banned in England because it dealt with Jack The Ripper in what some office suits decided was a glorifying light. They later rescinded that decision, and the controversy actually helped sales.
The album got distribution throughout Europe, and he spent the next year and a half on the road while writing material for his follow-up, 1981’s I’M AS GUILTY AS YOU, produced by Heydon. By this point he’d signed with French label Sefel Records. The only single was the flop “Lisa,” but Plummer talked the label into re-releasing his first album later that year, this time with a different jacket.
He was one of the first artists to sign with upstart Duke Street Records in ’84, and brought in producers Gene Martynec (Queen City Kids and Rough Trade among others) and Gary Gray. He released WITHOUT A MARK that year, which featured the singles “Dull Razor” and “Dream Research.” Neither single cracked the top 40, but Plummer was able to string together a series of tours that kept him busy across the country for the better part of the next year.
He formed a new backing band and followed up with BRIAN PLUMMER & THE SUSPECTS in the summer of ’85. Featuring Gray returning as producer (this time with Tim Thorney), it contained the singles “Central American Song,” “Stop Running,” and “All Day, All Night,” though again he missed the top 40. It also featured Higbee coming back into the fold to co-write a couple of the tracks, and also contained Jorn Andersen’s “Come To The Rescue,” “Stop Running” (co-written with Thorney and Domenic Troiano), and closed out with a cover of Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul.” Another extensive cross-Canada tour ensued, but by the spring of ’87 he was living on the West Coast and concentrating on writing radio and TV jingles.
He returned to the music store shelves in ’99 with PLUMS (though few people knew about it) – an independently released greatest hits package that also contained eight new tracks. After a handful of shows around western Canada, he again retreated from the spotlight for the next eight years, when he released the PERFECT WORLD. Predominantly an acoustic album, it was produced by Gary Wik and Reid King and along with some new material, it also contained reworkings of five of his earlier songs.
Longtime songwriting partner Al Higbee would get into TV production, eventually working on such shows as Pawnography, Badass!, Playboy’s Beach House, Make Or Break: The Linda Perry Story, and That Morning Show, as well as the Thor documentary, I AM THOR.
Plummer passed away on April 30, 2008 in Nanaimo, BC after a lengthy battle with cancer.
With notes from Layne Coleman, Jaimie Vernon, Gary Wik