Possibly one of the most under-rated pioneers of Canadian rock as we know it today, Paul Dean is unique in that his first instrument wasn’t the guitar, drums, or even the piano. While at his parents’ ski resort at Lake Windemere in BC, he became so enamoured with a guest’s ukelele that his parents bought him one while still only twelve years old. The next year he’d switched to baritone horn in the school band, and by 14 was honing his chops on his first guitar.
Paul joined his first band while still in high school. A country/swing band, he played bass but it wasn’t long before he found himself working his axe in a rhythm and blues group instead. After a stint with Cannon Ball, then Brutus before that band called it quits in ’76, he was in the shortlived Scrubbaloe Caine for one lp.
He hooked up with Kenny Shields and Daryl Gutheil in ’77 and the next year, released one of Canadian rock’s all-time greatest debut records. Streetheart‘s MEANWHILE BACK IN PARIS was an instant hit. Backed by Dean’s searing guitar-work, the lead-off track “Action” quickly put Streetheart on the map. “Pressure”, “People Takin’ Pieces of Me” and the absolute killer “Look At Me” all confirmed what the critics said – Streetheart, and Paul Dean, were definitely not mere flashes in the pan.
Internal problems caused Paul to leave the group after only the one album. While sitting around contemplating his next move, he heard a tape of Mike Reno singing and by early ’80, Loverboy was born. Their self-titled debut made it the second debut featuring Dean to go gold. Their next release was GET LUCKY, with equally impressive results. Loverboy released 5 studio albums before deciding some time off from the group might be in everyone’s best interest.
In 1987, Paul released his first solo record. HARDCORE was aptly titled. The lead-off anthem was “Sword and Stone”, written by Kiss’ Paul Stanley & Bruce Kulick and Stanley’s long-time writing partner Desmond Child. Paul’s incredible talent had a chance to shine without the hinderance of a band setting. Self-produced with a helping hand from the late Brian “Too Loud” McLeod,HARDCORE featured an ensemble who’s who … Streetheart buddy Spider Sinnaeve on bass,Streetheart/ Loverboy‘s Matt Frenette, as well as Jon Bon Jovi. Other noteable tracks included the Bryan Adams/Jim Vallance penned “Draw The Line”, “Under The Gun”, co-written by Dean with Mike Reno, as well as Bon Jovi and his guitarist Richie Sambora, and an updated remake of the hit that made it all happen a decade earlier, “Action”.
After Loverboy released their sixth album, appropriately titled VI, Dean’s second solo disc hit the stores in ’94. MACHINE, named after The Machine Works studio in Vancouver, instantly showed a different side of him. With a blues/swing feel to it, the record had a flavour on the opposite end of the scale than its predecessor. Tracks like “Couldn’t Get Arrested”, “Bitch You” and the remake of the Eddie Cochrane hit from the 50’s, “Something Else” showed a bluesy feel to Dean’s personality. Also noteable was “Closer To The Flame”, a track which didn’t make the final cut for HARDCORE that featured MacLeod on drums. Again, an all-star cast was assembled for MACHINE, which included Frenette and Reno, as well as Peter Fredette of Kim Mitchell‘s band, Eric Webster and Marc La France.
Again sandwiched between Loverboy records, Dean released BLACKSTONE in 1997. Again Dean surrounded himself with friends for its recording, including again Loverboy alumni Reno and Scott Smith, Webster, La France and Geraldo Dominelli on keyboards, who’d filled in for Doug Johnson on Loverboy‘s ’89 tour. A diversity in styles seldom-seen, BLACKSTONE was easily one of ’97’s sleeper hits, with the tracks “Chill”, “Act Out Your Fantasy”, “Kiss The Fire” and “Schizophrenic” all serving up something for everyone.