T he basis of Zylan was formed when Dave Miller and Helene Bolduc went island hopping, moving from Newcastle, NB to Halifax in 1971. With Bolduc handling vocals and Miller on trumpet, they wanted to create an orchestrated sound, different from everything else on the East Coast at the time.
They soon added a second vocalist in Real Pelletier, guitarist Blaine Murphy, Donnie Hann on bass, Peter Fraser on keyboards, and drummer Andy Davis. Miller also expanded the horns section, when George Wilson on trumpets and Harold Tsistinas on sax were added. They toured the next couple of years up and down the east coast, making stops in Ontario and Quebec, and into the US.
And although no one else around was incorporating the ‘big band sound,’ there were other orchestral rock groups riding the charts at the time – Blood Sweat & Tears and Lighthouse, among others. They caught the attention of execs at Polydor, who signed them to a recording deal in late 1972 and shipped them off to the studio.
They released their debut album, RAINBOWS, DREAMS, AND FANTASIES the following spring, and the single “Darlin'” b/w “Back To Yesterday” (a cover of Floyd King’s song) did well throughout eastern Canada, as the band continued touring the region. The album was in English, but as most members were bilingual, label reps saw the opportunity to capitalize on another relatively untapped market. They were taken back to the studio and before ’73 was over, they’d re-recorded the album in French, altering the lyrics. “Ma Promesse” b/w “Souvenirs” found its way as a single but didn’t chart.
They continued doing shows until early ’74, when the novelty of the ‘big band’ sound wore off. The horns section was eliminated, and Steve Annan replaced Murphy on guitars, and Dave Skinner became the new drummer. By that summer, the band was dropped from the label and everyone went their separate ways.
Bolduc joined Sun Machine, followed by Pelletier about a year later, who in turn morphed into Sam Moon’s back-up band. Bolduc then went solo and recorded the single “Tell Me You Lied” b/w “Take It From Me” in 1984, both written by New Glasgow doctor Lorne Marsh. Pelletier still plays with pick-up bands along the East Coast, after becoming a phys ed teacher.
Hann joined The Minglewood Band, while Annan went on to play with the short-lived Wonderful Grand Band, and then Stutz. Skinner joined The Mason-Chapman Band for a period, then got out of the business all together. Founding member Dave Miller and Harold Tsistinas both got into the recording side of the industry. Miller opened up Inter Media Services, a mobile recording studio and also opened his own music store in Fredricton. Tsistinas became the recording engineer at Solar Audio Studios.
In the early ’00s, a quasi-reggae group from Jamaica with no ties whatsoever to Zylan began recording under the same name.