Bill Wade memorial
The original version of Moxy was actually one of a number of groups Buzz Shearman had been in. After the breakup of Sherman & Peabody (named after the cartoon ‘Mr Peabody’s Improbable History’), which also featured Greg Godovitz (Fludd & Goddo) and Gil Moore (Triumph) – he bounced around a few other Ontario groups which included Flapping. But when the nucleus of that group left Hamilton to become Ian Thomas‘ band Tranquility Base, Shearman returned to Toronto and joined the already-established Leigh-Ashford.
Following that bands’ demise in ’73, he hooked up with guitarist Earl Johnson and drummer Bill Wade, who he’d played with before in Leigh-Ashford. They added Kim Frased on bass and began playing together in the spring of ’74, still calling themselves Leigh-Ashford and carrying on the tradition of the ‘original’ band of putting on one of rock’s better live shows without all the ‘fluff’. After problems left them bassist-less, Johnson recommended Terry Juric, who he and Wade had played with in Outlaw Music. A name change later and they released “Can’t You See I’m A Star” as a single for Yorkville Records in ’74.
They landed a deal with Polydor the next year and flew to New York to record their first album with producer Mark Smith. While in The Big Apple, the rock-Gods were smiling. Legendary guitarist Tommy Bolin (James Gang, Deep Purple) happened to be in the studios and ended up working with them on the record.
The eponymous debut was released that summer, with “Fantasy” as the first single. When they returned to Toronto they recruited Buddy Caine as a second guitarist and in no time at all they’d become regulars on the Ontario bar circuit, quickly gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense, to-the-bones rock band. MOXY II came out a year later and spawned the hit single “Take It Or Leave It”. Their simple and blunt approach to music earned them several ‘hot tour pockets’, including Texas – where they travelled with Triumph – another Dixie-land fave.
After the finishing touches were put on RIDIN’ HIGH in ’77, Wade was replaced by new drummer Danny Bilan that March. They hit the road in support of the record, playing 12 weeks in the US, many of which saw them headline AC/DC. The tour wound up grossing Moxy more than any other before or after. But by late summer internal dissension caused Shearmanto quit the band after the tour. He would try his luck afterwards on his own with Buzzsaw. He would later do a duet with Lee Aaron on her solo debut called “Texas Outlaw”.
Moxy would go on – recruiting Mike Rynowski on vocals. They released UNDER THE LIGHTS in the spring of ’78. But tracks like “Highschool Queen” and “Sailor’s Delight” weren’t what was expected – and dismal sales at the cash register spelled the temporary end of Moxy. Rynowski would change his name to Mike Reno and go on to front one of Canada’s best-sellers of the ’80’s, Loverboy.
Shearman regrouped with Juric, Caine, Bilan and new guitarists Woody West and Doug MacAskill (ex of the big-band version of The Stampeders) for the early part of the ’80’s while shopping around for a new record deal. But tragedy struck in 1983 when Shearman died in a motorcycle accident. His wife Valerie was an executive with the indie label Ahed Records and spearheaded a tribute album to her late husband in ’84. Caine, Juric, and Bilan formed Voodoo while ex-drummer Bill Wade had earlier formed the short-lived Bongo Fury with Goddo‘s Gino Scarpelli.
Both groups had songs featured on the El Mocambo Records compilation called TORONTO CALLING. A greatest hits compilation called SELF DESTRUCTION was released in ’95 on Pacemaker Records. Containing material from the first 3 albums, it also featured the Buddy Caine Band’s “Feed The Fire”, written in tribute to Shearman.
Johnson & Caine weren’t doing a whole lot near the end of the decade, so along with original drummer Bill Wade, they added vocalist Brian Maxim, who’d worked with Caine in Voodoo. They decided to give another kick at the cat, releasing MOXY V in 2000. Recorded at Wade’s home studio and self-produced, it very much captured the essence of Moxy – wicked guitar riffs heavy on the blues, a thunderous backbeat and a shrieking vocalist.
Tragedy struck Moxy once again however, when Wade succumbed to cancer in 2001. Nonetheless, revamped interest in classic rock landed them a deal with Bullseye Records, home to MANY Canadian classic acts, who promptly re-released MOXY V two years after its original release, including two live tracks previously unavailable.
Inspired by the renewed interest, the band carried on – recruiting new drummer Kim Hunt, ex of Island, Hanover Fist, Urgent, and Zon. Hunt’s rhythm partner in Zon – bassist Jim Samson also joined the troops for the MOXY RAW record. The band’s first full live album hit the stores in 2002, serving up a healthy 16 track dose of what was always considered the band’s strongest point – the energy and electricity of their live show.
Maxim left the group in 2003 but the void wasn’t long-lived. Alex Machin, original vocalist for classic act A Foot In Cold Water picked up the microphone shortly after. A new album was said to be in the works, but never materialized.