Kurt Winter memorial
One of Winnipeg’s early favourite local groups, Gettysbyrg Address was formed in 1967 by vocalist/keyboardist Mike Hanford. The first incarnation of the group was rounded out by guitarists Kurt Winter and Orest Andrews, Bill Wallace on bass, and drummer Craig Hamblin.
Initially Hanford wanted to carry on the name of his previous group, The Shondels, who recorded four singles prior to breaking up in ’66. When he couldn’t talk the band’s original founder into giving up the name, Hanford came up with Gettysbyrg Address from the famous speech by Abraham Lincoln following the Civil War, simply altering the name.
They played the local area circuit and hit the road, making every stop on the prairies while gaining the attention of Frank Weiner, president of Franklin Records, a local Winnipeg label. Their first single in the fall of ’67 called “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” b/w “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby” was produced by Randy Bachman and Harry Taylor. After it reached #3 on the Canadian chart, they followed up before the end of the year with a couple of Motown covers – The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Phil Spector’s “Be My Baby.” They continued on the road and opened for the likes of The Guess Who, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Byrds, Johnny Rivers, Gerry & The Pacemakers, and Herman’s Hermits.
By the spring of ’68 Hamblin was replaced behind the drumkit by Ken Hordichuk. They were hooked up with famed producer Norm Petty (Wes Dakus & The Rebels, Southbound Freeway, Barry Allen), in his Clovis, New Mexico studio, and released a pair of original tune as their third single, “Come Back To Me Baby” b/w “You’ve Got To Let Me Know.”
Shortly after, Andrews left the group and was replaced by Greg Leskiw. Tours across western Canada continued until Hanford quit about a year later, effectively ending the band’s tenure, as everyone else soon followed him out the door. Leskiw formed the short-lived Logan Avenue with Wallace and Winter.
The band remained in limbo until Weiner convinced those three to drop that act and reform Gettysbyrg Address in late 1969. Adding Hermann Fruhm on keyboards and drummer Richard Torrance, they tried to pick up where they’d left off and found some gigs around the prairies. They recorded one final single, Leskiw’s “Baby True” for a Franklin compilation album the following spring, and then again as a single on the Jazzman Records label that summer. It wasn’t long however before the band called it quits for good and everyone went on to other projects.
Most members at one time or another would later be involved in either The Guess Who, or at least one of the other spin-offs of the band. Winter and Wallace both also played with Brother first, Leskiw formed Wild Rice for a couple of months before joining TGW, then formed Crowcuss with Fruhm. He and Leskiw then formed Mood Jga Jga for one album (then a reunion album in 1997), before Leskiw then formed Les Q. After he’d left TGW, Wallace then joined Leskiw in Kilowatt. Leskiw . Hanford also eventually joined a short-lived version of TGW in the mid ’80s, then moved to BC and became a songwriter, most notably for Mainline. Winter passed away in 1997 from kidney failure.
In 2008, Super Oldies Records released a compilation album entitled THE BEST OF FRANKLIN RECORDS – 1967 – 1972, containing all seven Getysbyrg Address songs that appeared on 45. A year later, they released another compilation called FROM CANADA TO CLOVIS, that included the two tracks released as their third single, as well as a pair of unreleased songs – covers of The Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride” and Bobby Bland’s “Stormy Monday Blues.”