Kurt Winter memorial
Not to be confused with a pop group in the late 90’s with the same name, Brother was one of Winnipeg’s most popular underground groups at the end of the ’60’s. The group’s origins began when Kurt Winter, one of the prairies’ most promising guitarists, and drummer Vance Schmidt, formerly of The Crescendos, were in The Fifth in 1966, one of London Records’ hopefuls.
But when the band struggled to get the attention they thought they deserved they fell apart in ’69. Winter joined Gettysburg Address. But within a year and a pair of singles, he and bassist/singer Bill Wallace hooked up with Schmidt (now going by the last name Masters) again to form Brother. They were self-managed, much to the shagrin of booking agents in the city. Still, they played the circuit, often for nothing, and wrote a number of songs. But inside a year, Winter was recruited along with fellow former Gettysburg Address and Wild Rice member Greg Leskiw to fill the shoes of the recently departed Randy Bachman in The Guess Who.
Brother recorded three songs, the whole session of which was financed by Winteron his own at RCA Studios in Chicago, and only after he had been with The Guess Who for a period of time – “Sending Money”, backed with “Second Time Around the Woodpile” was released as a single in 1970. “Good Time Charlie” was also recorded, but never released. Two other tracks that were written but not recorded eventually made the Guess Who catalogue, “Bus Rider” and “Hand Me Down World.” All of Brother’s songs were written by all three members.
Masters meanwhile joined Diane Hetherington and The Merry Go Round, a staple in the mid-west Canadian club circuit at the time. They even briefly hosted their own CBC variety show. Under the direction of Kenny Rogers, they also recorded in the studios, but the songs were never released.
Wallace would also join The Guess Who a few years later. After Winter left The Guess Who in ’74, it only seemed natural he’d hook up with Masters again. Bubbles hit the scene, which morphed into Saint Silver and eventually Papa Pluto.
The connection between the members of Brother and The Guess Who continued, when Masters joined Burton Cummings‘ solo touring band in ’77, opening for Alice Cooper, and then joined the reformed version of The Guess Who later that year, and recorded GUESS WHO’S BACK in ’78, then ALL THIS FOR A SONG a year later.
Prior to Masters joining, Wallace had left The Guess Who, and formed Crowcuss, then went on to Kilowatt in the early 80’s. The The Guess Who lineup that featured Masters drifted into obscurity fairly quickly, at which point he again went back to his own projects, including The Trigger Brothers, Yogi and Friends, and Twister, to name just a few. In 1992, he began a 10-year stint with the country-rock band, Guns 4 Hire.
On December 24, 1997,Winter passed away of alcohol-related problems. Wallace meanwhile would rejoin The Guess Who for their late 90’s comeback, and then drift off to do outside projects again a few years after the RUNNING BACK THROUGH CANADA album and DVD.