The Churls were formed in 1967 by Toronto natives Bob O’ Neill on vocals, guitarists Sam Hurrie and Harry Southworth Ames, bassist John Barr, and drummer Brad Fowles. By that summer, they were one of the hottest up and coming bands on the scene, and started an eight-weeks gig at The Penny Farthing, and were also regulars at The Strawberry Patch, The Rock Pile, and at Charlie Brown’s.
While in Yorkville, they gained a reputation as one of the loudest bands around, mixing power chords a’la Cream and Hendrix with a dose of straight-out boogie. Things happened fast for the group, as they were discovered only a few months later by The Everly Brothers, who dropped in to one of their shows while on a Toronto tour stop of their own. One thing led to another, and the band was signed that winter to Glotzer and Katz Management, the same people who managed Blood Sweat & Tears.
They were encouraged to play the US to help get their name out there in front of record execs, so they spent a good part of early 1968 playing in New York, and became the houseband at both Cafe a Go-Go and The Scene. There they rubbed shoulders with some of the regulars on the strip, including Buddy Miles, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart, and even Lennon and McCartney. On one evening, Jimi Hendrix dropped by and before the night was over, he was jamming onstage with the band.
From there they made their way west, and found regular gigs at the hottest spots in Hollywood – at The Whiskey a Go-Go, The Experience, and The Electric Circus, where they caught the attention of brass at Herb Alpert’s A&M Records. The label was early in their game of trying to infiltrate the rock market, and after signing a deal, the band stayed in California to work on their self-titled debut, released that fall.
Their only single, the Byrds-influenced “City Lights” b/w “Where Will You Be Tomorrow?” made its way onto the Canadian chart, but soon dropped off just as quickly. Along with other tracks like the lead-off “Eventual Love,” “Crystal Palace,” and “Fish On A Line,” the album was pyschadelia-fuelled rock with an occasional slant to the blues, complete with cameos from The Tijuana Brass and Leigh Ashford keyboardist Newton Garwood. “Princess Mary Margaret” meanwhile was a throwback to Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” era.
They toured for a few months on both sides of the border, but decided time would be better spent writing and recording. They returned to A&M’s Hollywood studio, resulting in SEND ME NO FLOWERS in the summer of ’69. Garwood guested on the album again, and this time also took a more active role, and even co-wrote some of the material, including the critics’ pick, “Trying To Get You Out Of My Mind.” But by this point arguments between the band and the brass resulted in a ‘no confidence vote for the band, and no singles were released. Still, noteable songs included “Long Long Time,” the title track, and “I Can See Your Picture.”
Now without a recording deal, the band returned to Toronto for good. They continued touring til the end of the year, but then packed it in, and everyone drifted off to other projects, or got out of the business all together.
In the mid ’00s, Pacemaker Entertainment re-issued both albums as a double-length CD.