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Terry Crawford and Rick Johnson began playing together while they were still attending high school in Winnipeg. They formed the first incarnation of Crawford in the early ’70s with Johnson on guitars, Scott Gair on bass, drummer Birch Nero and Tony Ward on keyboards. The lineup changed a few times while they honed their chops playing the hot rock covers of the day around the local area circuit for the next few years.
Shortly after Crawford and Johnson were married in ’75, they decided a move to Toronto would help improve their fortunes. After a few more lineup changes over the next few years (as well as name changes between Crawford to The Crawford Avenue Band, to the Terry Crawford Band), the group also consisted of Al Corbeil on bass, drummer John Hannah (ex of Major Hoople’s Boarding House, Privilege, Streetheart) and Dale Saunders on keyboards. Over the next couple of years they worked the circuit, as well as with other artists in the studio, including James Leroy.
Manager Allan Katz helped secure the band a deal with RCA in ’79, and the band was off to Listen Audio Studio in Montreal to work on their debut album with producers Richard Blakin (Paul Simon, Chicago, Burt Bacharach) and Dixon Van Winkle (Men Without Hats, Garfield, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney). Self titled, it was released in the summer of 1980 with the lead-off single, “Dreamer” b/w “Clean Out The Closet” leading the way. Initial reviews were good, and the band found itself on a cross-Canada tour. In ’82, Crawford received a Juno nomination for Most Promising Female Vocalist.
Deciding to drop the ‘Band’, Crawford’s next outing was two years later with GOOD GIRL GONE BAD, recorded again at Listen Audio Studios. Saunders and Hannah stayed on, with a number of other studio musicians, and Johnson penned the majority of the songs, with outside writers for the rest. With Katz taking over production along with Carl Marsh, three singles ensued over the next year – “Running,” “Chocolate Candy,” and “Gunfighter.” A four-song EP was also doled out to the dance clubs.
Nothing cracked Canada’s top 20, but the lp still fuelled tours that took them throughout North America with Chilliwack, Toronto, and again with the Beach Boys. And although it was dismissed by some as just another spoke in the chick-fronted rock band wheel (ie Toronto, Headpins, Lee Aaron, Lydia Taylor), Crawford was again nominated for a Juno in ’83 – but again missed out.
Katz and Marsh returned as producers for VIRGIN HEART, recorded once again at the friendly confines of Listen Audio and released in time for the early Christmas rush in ’83. Mostly written on the road, it again was predominantly written by Johnson. Slick keyboards underlined Crawford’s raspy-at-times vocal prowess over a hard driving beat. The first single out of the gate was “Only One” b/w the lead-off “Sorry,” followed by “One Time For Old Times,” written by Gary O’Connor (Aerial, Gary O. With it she had her first top 20 hit and more relentless touring helped cement her reputation for her live energy.
But constant touring was taking its toll, and she took some time off, and after signing with Attic, returned in 1986 with TOTAL LOSS OF CONTROL, which featured Edmonton-native Bryan Feland joining the songwriting and live team. Produced by Tim Thorney, Joel Feeney, Brian Allen (Rose, Toronto – and on-again off-again label hired gun) was brought in to lend a helping hand. In much the same vein as its predecessors, the album offered up a pair of singles – “I’ll Be Back” and “First Step.” Airplay was again good and some more touring ensued over the next year, opening again for The Beach Boys across Caanada. “First Step” also served as her first video, which got extensive play on Much Music.
But life away from the stage put Crawford’s career on hold for a few years. Along with doing occasional voice over work, after performing sing-a-longs for their children’s kindergarten class, she and Johnson re-invented themselves as Terri & Rick. They released four award-winning children’s CDs over the next decade and a half – JUST FOR KIDS, TWISTING TO THE RHYTHM, THE HEALTHY HUSTLE, and TOGETHER WE LIGHT THE WAY.
Supposed to be a one-off benefit concert in Oshawa in ’96, the two also reunited with Feland in a part-time covers band the Retro Rockets. In 2000, Crawford and Johnson reunited with the original members of the band while at a high school reunion in Winnipeg. In ’09, Johnson got into provincial politics, winnng the by-election in the Haliburton-Kawarth Lakes-Brock district as a Liberal. Two years later he lost the position to the Conservatives in the general election.
Their next rock project wasn’t until 2011, with the release of LIFE LINES, with Feland and original keyboardist Dale Saunders, Steve Steele on bass, and drummer Bill King. Generally embraced by the critics, the title track was released as a single, but failed to chart. Other noteable cuts included
After leaving Crawford’s recording and touring entourage in the early ’80s, drummer John Hannah went on to play with Crackers, then worked mostly as a studio musician. On May 7, 1989, he was involved in a fatal car collision outside Owen Sound, Ontario.
With notes from Bruce Atkinson, Evelyn Erskine, Cliff Hunt, Michelle Plasse, Dale Saunders, Jaimie Vernon