Sea Dog

albums w/ jackets & lyrics
Sudbury, Ontario natives Mark Corbin and Jim Norris first started playing together while still in high school, and afterwards had formed Taxi. By 1968 the group got enough exposure and good reviews playing the clubs that they moved, trying their luck in Toronto. A name change to The Tote Family saw the release of a pair of singles before the end of the decade, tho neither “The Right Girl” b/w “Miles and Miles” or “Allright Mama” b/w “Leave Me Be” made any headway on the charts.

By the time they’d scored a deal with MUCH Records (CHUM radio’s foray into other media), the lineup was Corbin on bass, Norris on drums, guitarist Michael Argue, and Doug Varty on piano and organ. But before long Corbin was gone and was replaced by Brian Kirkwood (ex of Magic Bubble, and Paul Weston had replaced Argue on guitars. John Redmond was also added as a second organist/ pianist.

They released their self-titled debut album in ’72, produced by manager Terry Fillion, and was issued internationally with a slightly different jacket. A foray into a mix of organ-driven psychadelic pop of the time and blues, it featured the three singles released over the previous year – “It’s A Hot Night,” “I Don’t Wanna Hear,” and “Rock And Roll Business.” Varty, Redmond, and Weston were the principle songwriters, and also included “Everybody,” written by Argue prior to his departure. Although the record did little on the charts to shake up the world, but they still managed to land opening slots on some of the biggest tours of the day across the country.

Personnel changes were frequent before and after MUCH released a pair of subsequent singles in ’73 -“How It Grows” and “Holding Your Hands” – both with “Round And Round” on the b-side. Norris had been replaced on drums by Matt Campbell, who in turn was replaced by Jim Minas. “It’s A Hot Night” was their biggest hit when Plum Records released it in ’74. But that deal didn’t last long either, as Plum also was going through some financial issues. They carried on, with David Van Duzen taking over guitars, Ed Clement replaced Kirkwood and was then quickly replaced himself by new bassist Dave McManus. Varty was the only member from start to finish, but by the time the band called it quits in ’75, Frank Bozzo had taken over the organ duties, and Mark Gendel was the last guitarist.

After the band’s demise, everyone either went on to other projects, or got out of the business all together. The only member from start to finish, Varty re-recorded “Holding Your Hand” and “How It Grows,” then formed the short-lived Lowdown in the early ’80s. He and Weston both became sought-after session players. Norris went on to work for Canadian Musician Magazine, and Redmond got an office job with Polygram.

Their run was short, but they gained a following on the road, opening for the likes of April Wine, Crowbar, Lighthouse, Brutus, A Foot In Coldwater, Fludd, and Rush. They were also a hot commodity when American groups came north, and they opened for Bob Seger, Ike and Tina Turner, Sly and the Family Stone, and Danny & The Juniors.

  • With notes from Ernie Ladd, Doug Varty, Jaimie Vernon