By the time Jackson Hawke formed in 1974, Sault Ste. Marie high school friends Tim Ryan and Bob Yeomans had already been in and out of a number of Toronto bands for over a decade. While with The Amen in the mid 60s, they were mutually getting discouraged at not being able to crack the shell outside the Toronto area.
Despite the management efforts of Bernie Finkelstein, who also handled The Paupers and Kensington Market at the time, they had little success with their only ’45 “Carnivals and Cotton Candy” b/w “Peter Zeus.” They disbanded and moved on to other projects.
While Yeomans would join The Vandettas, Ryan got out of the business all together and working at a Hamilton steel factory and in the construction industry for a few years. But the two remained in occasional contact, and Ryan eventually got back behind the microphone. They began writing together again, and along with some old material they’d collaberated on earlier, some demos were recorded which caught the ear of a couple of producers. What was supposed to be a duo album turned into Ryan’s self titled solo debut in ’72. Produced by Fraser Mohawk, it spawned a moderate hit around the GTA in “Sweet December.”
Their paths crossed again the next spring when they formed Hero. The band couldn’t get a committed manager or a record deal, and again was going nowhere fast. They again disbanded and Ryan gave it another shot as a solo artist. Although touring Japan and representing Canada at a Tokyo Music Festival.
But before long he was back writing with Yeomans in a reincarnated Hero with a different lineup – himself on vocals, Yeomans on guitars, Gene Falbo (ex of Aaron Space on bass and Texas native Chris Castle on drums. They picked up where they’d left off a year earlier and continued on the Toronto circuit, playing a mix of adult contemporary sounds with an acoustic feel. But before long Castle packed up his bags and went back to the US.
They signed with Capitol Records in the spring of ’76, and the band changed its name after Ryan’s and Yeoman’s grandfathers, Joe Jackson and Andy Hawke. With session drummer Larrie Londin, they released FOREVER that summer, produced by Bob Gallo. While the first single, “You Can’t Dance” was cracking the top 40 throughout Ontario, DJs got a surprise bonus when their cover of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” on the b-side also became a hit. With the exception of that song, all the tracks were written by Ryan and Yeomans. “She’s The One” was released as the next single, and other noteable tracks included “She’s Gonna Get Away,” “Brazil Nuts,” and the tender “The Night Music” and “No Sad Songs.” They called on Bob Clarke, who was in The Amen with them over a decade earlier, to be the new drummer, and they hit the road while touring across Canada and making stops along the eastern US seaboard. They were nominated for a Juno that year for most promising new group, but lost to Myles and Lenny.
Gallo returned for their 1977 self-titled follow-up, and they decided to add Garry Holt on guitars and Buckey Berger replaced Clarke on drums. The result was another carefully laid out simplistic arrangements of tight pop, including the single, “Set Me Free,” the funky “Do You Like It” and the upbeat “What Do You Wanna Do?” with its Santana feel.
Feeling the band had run its course, the band parted ways and everyone went on to other projects, less than a year before England Dan and John Ford Coley covered “You Can’t Dance” while making it an international hit in ’78. Ryan continued on as a solo artist, and was nominated for a most promising male vocalist Juno in ’84, but lost to Zappacosta.
Berger went on to work with such artists over the years as Rough Trade, Chilliwack, and Raffi, while Falbo also became a top session player, working with Bernie LaBarge and The Stickmen. After leaving Jackson Hawke prior to geting a recording contract, Castle worked with Long John Baldry, Jesse Winchester and Yvonne Elliman before going back to school, getting a degree in Law, and becoming a music attorney in Los Angeles.
In December, 2007, both The Amen and Jackson Hawke reunited for the “18 Forever” festival in Sault Ste. Marie, along with other groups who originally gained fame there in the 1960s, including Kensington Market, The Vendettas, and The Fireflys.