Taking their name from a random pick in a Winnipeg phone book, The Pumps formed in early 1978 and centred around friends Chris Burke-Gaffney on vocals and bass, lead guitarist Lou Petrovich, and drummer Terry Norman Taylor. Within a few months, Brent Diamond joined on keyboards. The four of them, sans Petrovich, actually had roots going back to high school, when they played with future Harlequin guitarist Glen Willows in Max Damien.
Playing in front of whatever local audience they could find, they quickly developed a following because of their live shows, full of energy and superb musicianship that seldom, if ever, had people leave unsatisfied. Before long they were doing shows on the western Canadian ‘b’ circuit. All the while they were writing their own music, incorporating the songs into the live shows.
Frank Welpert became the band’s manager, who subsequently turned his friend Bob Ansell on to them. Ansell was the national promotions manager for Polygram, and signed the band to an international recording deal in early ’79, then whisked them off to Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec for four months of recording sessions.
With famed British producers Phil Chapman and Jon Astley behind the board, GOTTA MOVE was in the stores by March 1980. Over the next six months, three singles found their way to FM radio’s playlists across the country, “Success,” “Bust The TV” (a shot at mindless programs, many of which are considered pop culture icons like “Charlie’s Angels” and “Dukes of Hazzard), and the Beatlesesque “Coffee With The Queen.” The album blossomed with some of the freshest sounds of the time. But for the most part hard and heavy power pop riffs weren’t chart friendly, especially Stateside, and none made a particularly huge impression.
Still, the live shows became legendary, as they continued to win over fans across the country and in various belts in the US, opening for the likes of Styx, Streetheart, Prism, Triumph, and AC/DC for the next year and a half.
But problems with Polygram shelved a second album, and the band was eventually cut from the label’s roster. Petrovich left the group, and the remaining members found a new guitarist and resurfaced as Orphan, releasing a pair of albums through ’83 to ’85 to minimal chart success. Following that band’s demise, Burke-Gaffney then dabbled in other projects for a few years, including writing/producing/managing for Chantal Kreviazuk and McMaster & James, and opening CBG Entertainment. In the early ’90s he teamed up with old Pumps drummer Terry Taylor for the short-lived group The Dead Beat Honeymooners, and their one album in 1992.
In the late ’90s The Pumps reformed to play a benefit show at the Convention Centre in Winnipeg to an overwhelmingly positive response. It wasn’t long before the second Orphan lineup (Burke-Gaffney, Diamond, Taylor and McGovern) decided to make a permanent part time gig out of playing together, billed as ‘The Pumps and Orphan.’ The best of those two groups made it to a Vatikan Records compilation disc in 2006 called IT’S A MIRACLE … THEY’RE STILL ALIVE!, with the new tracks “The Pumps Are Back,” “Let Me Love You,” and “Rock Star.”