Born in Sudbury, Ontario in 1947, Rich Dodson moved to Calgary with his family while he was still young. He grew up listening to the top hits of the day, and when he got his first guitar, began emulating the instrumental bands that heâd also taken to, such as The Ventures, The Shadows, and The Fireballs, as well as The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Zombies.
By 16, he was in his first recording band, The Rebounds, which eventually morphed into The Stampeders. Dodson wrote many of the singles, and they blazed a new trail while tearing up the charts with smashes like âWild Eyes,â âCarry Me,â âOh My Lady,â âJohnny Lightning,â âDevil You,â and âSweet City Woman.â
While still with the band, he released his first solo single, âJulia Get Upâ b/w âStone Blindâ on MWC Records in â72. The a-side made it to #11, and became part of The Stampeders‘ live repetoire and inclusion on later compilations.
The band had made is way east and settled in Toronto, and Dodson remained one of the chief songwriters. But mentally drained with it all, he left in late ’77 to pursue interests on the production side. He built Marigold Studios, which along with being a recording home for the likes of Alanis Morissette, Bryan Tyrrell, and Debbie Johnson, also served as the catalyst for his own music.
His string of solo singles over the next few years began with “Lookin’ Back” in ’81. It peaked at #6 at home and made it to # 11 in the US. A particular version of the single was backed by the 10-minute ode to John Lennon, “Silent Grooves,” which oddly was nothing but silence. More singles followed, when “She’s Comin’ Back” followed it to the top 10 in Canada, with “Cruel Emotion” making it three, in ’86.
His hits to that point were compiled into the LOOKIN’ BACK album in ’84, which also featured the top 20 “Natalie,” “Hollywood,” “If You Got a Heart,” and “Givin’ It Up For Love.” Throughout the rest of the decade, his singles also made regular appearances on various compilations.
At the urging by Dini Petty, Dodson hooked up with Ronnie King and Kim Berly on her TV show for the first time in over 15 years in 1992. A few select dates here and there included showcasing the Calgary Stampede, then the comeback album, SURE BEATS WORKING, which contained both new material and re-workings of some Stampeders classics.
A compilation of Dobson’s solo career to that point appeared in 1994 on Aquarius Records, in the form of SECRET HITS. Nearly everything from LOOKIN’ BACK a decade earlier re-appeared, and even the jacket was re-hashed. That same year, he was inducted into the SOCAL Hall of Fame for the smash singles that catapulted Stampeders into the stratosphere – “Carry Me” and “Sweet City Woman.”
In between other projects, two years later he produced friend Debbie Johnson again, also appearing on the album, LONELY LOVER. The title track climbed into the top 20 in Canada. He also recorded Aayasha’s debut, A-YA.
The Stampeders were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame with Dodson’s “Sweet City Woman,” the song he wrote on a borrowed banjo over the course of a couple of days. The song also got used in the CBC’s “Cover Me” program a few years later.
His daughter Holly worked on Gowan‘s MOONLIGHT DESIRE album, then formed pop-synth sensation The Parallels with brother Nick on drums, one of Marigold’s many listees over the years.
Dodson continues to run Marigold Studios, which has also been home to several Stampeders compilations (including one solely of Dodson’s solo material with a re-worked “Sweet City Woman”), the David Suzuki documentary THE AMAZING JOURNEY, daughter Holly’s debut solo album in 2007 called THE CAROUSEL, and a Stampeders show in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan turned 2008 album, LIVE AT THE MAE WEST.
With notes from Gary Bell, Rich Dodson, Gary James, Kevin Murphy, and Keith Sharp.