The Pink Plumm

One of Winnipeg’s hottest up and coming groups in a sea of many was The Pink Plumm, formed around vocalist/bassist Fred Turner, guitarists Ralph Watts and Ron Riscoe, and drummer Brian Long. They’d all either played in other local groups while still in high school, or with each other at one time or another. In Turner’s case – there was close to a dozen groups that he was involved with since high school, including The Unnamed, Roy Miki, and The Downbeats.

Even before The Guess Who broke the glass ceiling with “Shakin’ All Over,” bands were a-plenty in Winnipeg in the ’60s, mostly covering British Invasion groups. The Pink Plumm in particular were popular on the community club and high school dance circuit, doing weekend dances around town. At one point, feeling they weren’t polished enough, they actually took several months off just to practice. Once they were in front of audiences again, and after nearly a year, they started playing elsewhere around the province, and even made a couple trips south of the border.

Due in no small part to the success of “Shakin’ All Over,” labels were eagerly handing out recording contracts, hoping lightning would strike twice. In many cases, the labels themselves would appear out of nowhere. In The Pink Plumm’s case, they signed with TCP Records, who also handled fellow-Manitoba acts The Action and Don Brown. One Pink Plumm single in ’68 was released and initially got a fair bit of airplay regionally – Ralph Murray’s “Along Came Pride” (and covered that same year by Belgium’s Joe Harris & The Pink Umbrella and initially a year earlier by Donnie Elbert) b/w a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

The band carried on through the end of the year and into ’69, but TCP Records had folded, and waning interests were pulling the members apart. After the band’s demise, everyone went off to do their own projects, and Riscoe and Long subsequently left the music business all together. Turner went on to join a cover band called the D-Drifters. Although he was writing material, the rest of the group repeatedly rejected the songs, insisting they remain a covers band. In 1971, on advice from Neil Young, Randy Bachman asked him to join his latest group, Brave Belt. Turner joined in time for their second record. While shopping around for someone to release a third album, they changed their name to Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Watts stayed in Winnipeg and wound up in The Fifth for a pair of singles (they had a string of releases before him joining). He also guested on a number of albums and worked behind the scenes, producing the likes of Nuthin Pretty and engineering The Guess Who‘s GUESS WHO’s BACK, and Streetheart‘s DRUGSTOR DANCER albums. He passed away in 1996.

The band would surface in the mid ’00s when Franklin Records released BURIED TREASURES: WINNIPEG ROCK GEMS (1958-1974).

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