Vancouver, British Columbia
In 1963 Stan Cayer drove from Vancouver to Nashville with $1,000 that he had saved, with the intention of recording some of his songs. Before leaving, he sewed the cash into his car seat for safe keeping, as that was a heck of a lot of money in those days. He was a huge fan of Elvis, and when he arrived, he went straight to RCA Studios, where he found Elvis’ producer, Bill Porter. Bill explained the process to Stan, and they set up a date to record. On June blank? 1963 (see tape box for date) they spent the day recording. Bill Porter had hired some of the top session players to perform on the tracks. Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Harold Bradley, and others were all in attendance. They recorded Stan’s 3 original songs onto 3 track tape, the industry standard at the time, and overdubbed the harmonies during the mix-down to two track masters, which then could be used to manufacture records.
While in Nashville, Stan heard that Little Richard had been arrested (for ‘peeping’ in the men’s room) so he bailed him out of jail for $100. Little Richard was grateful and promised to re-pay him, but never did. Stan left Nashville with the finished master tapes and headed home to Vancouver, where he shopped them around for possible release. Jerden Records in Seattle was interested but Stan turned them down due to some of the conditions in their contract. In the end, he decided it would be in his best interest to release them himself, and sent out inquiries for quotes to various pressing plants in Canada. He named his label ‘SGM’ which stood for the first part of his name: Stanley Gordon Melvin [Cayer]. He also set up his own publishing company, ‘Astral Music Publishing’. When the newly pressed records arrived he excitedly took a copy down to CFUN Radio on 4th avenue in Vancouver. Red Robinson, one of the top Disk Jockeys at the time was on air. Stan, with his smart business sense had decided ahead of time that it would be more professional to have a manager, someone he could trust, someone who could think like himself. So when he went into the station, he represented himself as ‘Mel Gordon’, his fictional manager. Red Robinson took a look at the record and said “We don’t play Canadian artists, sorry”. As Stan turned to leave, Red asked, “Wait a minute, where did you say it was recorded?” Once he heard about the Nashville session, and the talent behind the record, Red immediately played it on air, and the song ‘3 Wild Women’ became a hit in the top 10. It also did very well on Vancouver Island where Stan went on tour, opening for English artist Darryl Quist. Red Robinson also hosted CBC TV’s ‘Let’s Go Show’ and invited Stan to perform on it. Stan appeared 5 times in total, performing Elvis songs each time, as the theme of the show was to have local artists performing the hits of the day.Stan had written a song called ‘Letter to Santa’ and decided to record it in time for Christmas 1964. It was recorded locally at Robin Spurgin’s studio on Broadway and Stan used his unreleased third track ‘Crying on my pillow’ from the Nashville sessions for the B side. The record did well for the holiday season of 1964 and Stan had another hit record. He had realized that the two B sides from the Nashville sessions had received little attention, so he decided to issue a third single with ‘Crying on my pillow’ and ‘Why did I cry’. With some of the money from his success, Stan started his own magazine, ‘Top Teen Scene’, a teenage music magazine in the style of ‘Sixteen magazine’. His first issue featured The Beatles on the cover, and another issue had articles on James Brown with photos he had taken himself at a recent concert. The magazines were rich with ads from local radio stations and restaurants, and photos of bands and stars.
By 1965, Stan had learned a lot about the music business and decided he would like to work with musicians, to record and publish them, and eventually to manage bands. He signed several artists to record and publish. Groups such as ‘The Shags’, ‘Bernard John and the Bats’ and another group called ‘The In-Crowd’ (who recorded 2 songs for SGM) were among the first to work with Stan. The In-Crowd consisted of Mike Campbell, (a local singer from the “Let’s Go Show”), Larry Borrisoff on Bass, Ross Turney on Drums, and Norm Glass on guitar. In Late 1965 when the group disbanded, Turney would leave to join The Collectors, and Borrisoff would leave to join Terry Jack’s band ‘The Chessmen’.
By 1967 Stan’s booking agency, Rols Royce Bookings’ was full blown, and he had a lot of artists on his roster. He wanted a better way for clubs to be able to sample the talent of his bands, so he put together a promotional 4 song record with a cover that had pictures of the bands. He chose the four most popular bands that he represented, The Look, The Reign, The Silver Chalice Revue, and The Sound Set. In May, 1968, Stan sent off the masters to Compo Company in Quebec, to press 600 copies of the record. The Cover was made by Mitchell printing in Vancouver. Most copies were sent out to clubs and high schools to obtain bookings, and the concept worked well. Stan even thought to make a full LP to represent his bands but never got around to it. Representing a large number of bands, Stan was one of the leading booking agencies in Vancouver, and was approached by another (then small time) agent who was interested in a partnership. That agent was Bruce Allen, who today has become a very successful agent representing artists such as BTO, Loverboy, Bryan Adams, and Michael Buble.
One of Stan’s former top bands, ‘The Shags’, changed a band member, re-naming themselves ‘Long Time Comin’ by 1968. The band showed a lot of potential, and soon Stan was dedicating a lot of time to them. They were fast becoming a popular band at high school dances and live events and had some great original songs. So Stan arranged a recording session, and they released their first single ‘Paper Rose’ in 1970.
TO BE CONTINUED...