The east coast’s isolation from the rest of Canada’s music scene always played part in its unique sounds. Formed in ’76 in Nova Scotia, the band’s origins began after Bruce Wheaton (vocals/guitars) and Carson Richards (bass/vocals) had left Everyday People a year earlier. Wheaton had also been in several other groups prior, including The Stitch In Tyme. They hooked up with former Pepper Tree members Tim Garagan (drums/vocals) and Bob Quinn (keyboards/vocals).
The group’s name according to legend was inspired by an 18th century madame named Molly Reed who came to Halifax from England. She married an English sea captain named Charles Oliver and following his death during the War of 1812, she took command of his ship and became a pirate, raiding and looting the Eastern Seaboard. Though it’s quite the tale, there’s no truth behind it. “Molly” and “Oliver” were actually two dogs that lived near the band’s hangout in Purcell’s Cove.
The band had barely begun touring the local circuit when Ken (Dutch) Schultz replaced Garagan and Tony Quinn, formerly of Moon Minglewood and The Universal Power, no relation to Bob, was added as a second guitarist. Bob Quinn was soon replaced by Mike Leggat. This lineup released a pair of independent singles, the Wheaton had penned called “Straight To My Head,” backed by Tony Quinn’s Rainbow Woman.” Shortly after its release Quinn left and was replaced by new guitarist Larry Maillet.
The band got the attention of record execs while continuing along the tour trails and signed a deal with London Records. Their revolving door policy continued while cutting tracks in Morin Heights, QB. Schultz left in the middle of the sessions and was replaced by Ian MacMillan. Their eponymous debut hit the shelves in the summer of ’78, polished and with a flare, with Wheaton acting as chief songwriter. “Greet Your Neighbour” became the band’s first single and got some airplay across the country, backed with “Living A Dream.” Other noteable tracks from the album included the other singles “You Didn’t Listen To Me” and “Somebody New In My Eyes,” and a cover of Crosby Still Nash & Young’s “Carry On.”
But troubles were abrew back at London Records headquarters, and the label closed its doors. The band continued on the circuit for a couple of years while searching out a new deal. The revolving door continued to spin, and when they went back to Le Studio in Morin Heights in ’81 the lineup was Wheaton, Richards, Shultz, Leggat and Maillet. But before the recordings were done, Scultz was replaced by Terry Hopkins on drums and Richards had bowed out ofthe group, replaced by new bassist Bo Hanson. Paul Northfield, whose credentials included the likes of Rush and The Bee Gees was hired to lend a hand to Wheaton with production.
They came out with a self-titled 4-track independent EP, released the following spring. Along with a rehashing of “Greet Your Neighbour,” it contained the lead-off track “Apology.” The song was released as a single and received extensive airplay in the Maritimes. The relative success of the song landed them a set of opening gigs for The Beach Boys across eastern Canada. But by then Peter Jackson had replaced Leggat on keyboards, and he himself was out shortly after, replaced by Don Rodgers by ’84.
The band carried on a for a few more years, with more personnel coming and going. Neil Robertson was the new drummer and Mike Gaudet and then Ian MacDougall was the new bassist. In ’87 Wheaton’s song “Keep On Giving,” about Africans’ continuing need for aid debuted when he and 60 other musicians held a benefit show in Dartmouth, NS. All door proceeds went to the Red Cross.
The band finally packed it in while everyone went on to there own individual projects. Wheaton, Molly Oliver’s co-founder would start up his own home studio and enjoy a modestly successful solo career. He reuinited with with Maillet and Gaudet in 1999 for a series of benefit concerts, adding Andre Leblanc on keyboards and drummer Doug MacKay and various versions of the group still get together for the on-again, off-again dates.
The ’78 debut was remastered and re-released in 2003 as MOLLY OLIVER IN THE STUDIO, along with four bonus tracks – “Apology” and “Go Back Home” from the ’83 EP, the previously unreleased “Open Up” and “Straight In My Head,” the band’s first independent single.