| Not to be confused with several groups called ‘Noah’ before or after, Dutch immigrant Barry “Buzz” Vandersel started his first band, Buzzy & The Belvederes at 14 years old. With himself handling bass and his cousins Peter and Marinus Vandertogt on guitars and drums, the Trenton, Ontario kids recruited Paul Clapper as lead vocalist and began playing around the local area through the mid ’60s.|
They were eventually noticed by manager Al MacMillan from Nimbus 9 Productions. The first thing he did was chang their name to Tyme And a Half. He had enough confidence in their writing he let them write their two singles that year, both dripping of flower power – “It’s Been A Long Time” b/w “Magic Island,” and then “Cassandra” b/w “It’s Happening Here.”
Jack Richardson took a personal interest in the band, and helped land them a deal with RCA Victor, who suggested another name change, and Noah was born. Their self-titled debut was on the store shelves in the summer of 1970. All the members had a hand in writing the songs, with Peter Vandertogt and Clapper handling the majority of it. “Summer Sun” became the first single under the new name, but Clapper wasn’t happy with the direction the music was going – less poppy than previously, so he quit prior to the band setting off on the road to promote the album.
He was replaced by Ron Neilson, who was added as a second guitarist, and following some dates on both sides of the border, they settled in to work on the next lp. But by the time they’d moved to ABC/Dunhill for their follow-up album, Neilson was also gone. They carried on as a trio, and were hooked up with Randy Bachman to produce their sophomore effort, PEACEMAN’S FARM, released in the spring of ’72. Bachman also wrote “Sussex,” and also lent a hand on guitars throughout the record.
The music was in the same vein as the first album, full of harmonies and slick melodies and Jim Morgan was brought in to add a keyboards element. It got good initial reviews, as did an edited version of the title track as the single. They set off on the road for the better part of the next year with new guitarist Al Manning, doing dates on both sides of the border, many of which also saw BTO with them. Their star was rising and they were even featured on a live radio broadcast from Rochester, New York.
Once the tour bus was parked, they began working on their next album, but Vandersel was rushed to the hospital one day with what turned out to be a malignant brain tumour. Two years of chemotherapy treatments resulted in a temporary remission and allowed the recording to continue. But the album, tentatively entitled CALIFORNIA MAN and containing a reworking of Bachman’s “Sussex,” was never released.
At the age of 23, Vandersel passed away in the fall of 1975, and members went on to other projects, or eventually got out of the business all together.