Not to be confused with the mid 60’s British group of the same name, The Jitters were formed when guitarist friends Blair Packham and Danny Levy along with bassist Matthew Greenberg left their individual groups in 1981, shortly after recruiting school friend Glenn Martin on drums.
They began playing every possible gig in the Toronto area, quickly establishing themselves as one of the premier bar bands on the circuit. They scrounged up enough money to put together a demo of some original material and caught the attention of famed producer Bob Ezrin (KISS, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper) and took a trip to the studio with him in ’82. Although nothing came from the sessions as far as releases went, the exposure with one of the industry’s top producers gave them invaluable experience that they took with them down the road. By 1983 Martin left to join David Wilcox, and was replaced by David Quinton, ex of The Dead Boys and The Mods.
They continued making regular trips to the studio to fine tune their material, and got some national exposure when they released the independent video “Take Me As I Am” in ’84, which got fairly substantial airplay on MuchMusic. Although there were a dozen or so remixes of the song from various studio sessions, the song never did appear on any official full-length release. By ’85 Quinton left to join Strange Advance, and Martin was back in, now free again. They’d garnered enough attention to land the opening slot for Huey Lewis & The News’ show in Toronto. Later that year they entered Q107’s ‘Homegrown Contest’ with the song “Last of the Red Hot Fools,” and earning a spot on the radio station’s album.
But within a year later, it was Quinton again behind the drumkit. “Fools” was the final piece of the puzzle that got them signed to Capitol Records, and the band’s self-titled debut came out in ’87. But deciding to return to university, the revolving drummers’ door continued, and Quinton was gone again, now replaced by session drummer Randy Cooke.
With Paul Gross (Lee Aaron, Saga) behind the controls, the band went into the studios. “Paul approached the band about producing an album “on spec”, confident that he could get a deal for us. He was explicit, however – it had to be done his way or not at all,” Packham recalled. ” He expressed his opinion that Quinton’s drumming wasn’t the way he heard the band, and that if he were to record The Jitters, he’d prefer the drums be played by Cooke, a sessions vet. Faced with this opportunity, and a regular drummer who was out of town attending law school, The Jitters folded and agreed to make the record Paul’s way.”
With Packham, Greenberg and Levy the principal songwriters, the album was a slickly done fun record full of tight hooks and catchy tunes. For all intents and purposes it was actually done before the band was ever signed. Sessions in Toronto studios were simply tweaked here and there, and featured Vic D’Arsie on keyboards. “Last Of The Red Hot Fools” was released as the first single and found hitself on a number of versions, 45, 7″ and 12″ and was an overnight hit nationwide, earning the band their first gold record. The added attention scored them the undercard on Heart’s UK tour which, along with their other shows, took them well into 1988. “Closer Every Day,” “That’s When I Need You” – which featured the band’s first released song “Take Me As I Am” as the b-side, and “Go Ahead and Love Me” followed suit as singles, and the album was certified platinum.
Popularity grew, and with Peter Nunn (ex of Gowan) on keyboards, the band hit the road. In between tours they managed to write enough material to go to the studios in New York and Massachussets with producer Jules Shear. The result was a more sophisticated approach to things, and LOUDER THAN WORDS was released in 1990. The more mature songwriting and diverse sound earned critical praise while the first single, “Til The Fever Breaks” climbed the charts. By the time the second single, “The Bridge Is Burning” had peaked, the band had earned their second straight gold record and were bona-fide video darlings. “I Love Her Now” became the next single, but a year later in mid ’91, a decade of touring had taken its toll on the group and they called it quits, each going their own way on to indiviual projects.
Greenberg became a top sessions man for the likes of George Fox and Murray McLaughlin among others, and Nunn toured with Honeymoon Suite off and on over the years. Cooke also would lend his services to many, including Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band. Packham meanwhile would go on to co-write a number of tracks with other artists, including Alanis Morissette, Andy Stochansky, Naoise Sheridan, Stan Meissner, and many others. He’s also released a pair of solo ventures, EVERYTHING THAT’S GOOD in 2001 and COULD’VE BEEN KING in 2004. His television credits include working for TSN, CTV, CBC and Global Television and has done some film work as well. He also began teaching songwriting for Humber College’s annual summer workshop with co-producer Rik Emmett.