Frank Rondell (real name Francis Anthony Chiarelli) got his musical start in the late 1950s while growing up, doing various free performances around the Hamilton area.
He moved to Toronto and started Frank Rondell & The Chancellors, releasing a cover of Carl Perkins’ “Your True Love” b/w “Someone Like You” (written by Ronnie Hawkins) on Canatal Records in ’63. From there, he formed The Free Thinkers, who released the single “She’s Hurt” twice over the next couple of years on Mala Records – once with “You Were Born For Me” as the b-side, and then with “Why Why Why.” A second single was released on the indie label, Fujimo – the Halloweenesque “The Bat” b/w “Last Laugh’s On Me,” both written by Rondell.
Rondell carried on for the next few years on the local circuit, trying his hand at various incarnations. This is where he began working with Alex MacDougall, (later with Bond and whose later credits would include writing for or performing with David Duggs and Ritchie Furay, among many others). He also began the musical relationship with his younger sister Rita. They formed The Magic Bubble and MacDougall was gone shortly thereafter. With the Rondells handling vocals, the group was rounded out by guitarist Wade Brown, organist Paul Benton, Brian Kirkwood on bass, and drummer Sonny Milne (ex Little Caesar & The Consuls, Robbie Lane & The Disciples).
A deal with Columbia saw their only album on the shelves in 1970, amidst much ballhoo. Produced by John Williams, the songs were mostly written by Brown and MacDougall. The album was a light pop/psychadelic fusion, and also contained Rondell’s a cover of Bobby Darin’s “Me and Mr Hohner” and Gershwin’s “Summertime.” A pair of singles were released over the next year – “I’m Alive” b/w “Sunshine Man” and “Whiskey Fire” b/w “Circles.” Nothing set the world on fire, and the band continued touring throughout central Canada and into the US.
They released a new single in the fall of ’71 – “Who Turned The World Around” b/w “Ohio and Sun.” But eventually Columbia was becoming disinterested in the group, and they disbanded in ’72. Following their demise, Frank joined Custer’s Last Stand, good for a few years and one single. From there he went solo, releasing four singles throughout the decade – “Borrowed Love,” “Forever In Your Love,” “Hey There Girl,” and “These Are The Dreams.” Starting in the mid ’90s he turned his attention to doing tribute shows – first as a Frankie Valli revue, then a Ray Charles tribute show.
Rita meanwhile joined the short lived Battle Axe, before moving overseas for awhile. On her return under her real name, she launched a moderately successful solo career, and also recorded under the name Rita Greeneyes. Kirkwood went on to join Sea Dog, then got out of the business all together. Milne also found other things to do after the Magic Bubble burst. Brown moved to the east coast and joined Dutch Mason‘s bands until his death in 2010.
In 2006, the band’s only album was re-released on CD, containing as bonus both sides of their 1971 post-album single.