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DAVID CLAYTON THOMAS & THE SHAYS TOUGH TORONTO R&B FROM 1964


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Here is a very hard to find 1964 45 coming out of Toronto's burgeoning R&B scene, when every Toronto R&B band toiled under the very large shadow of Ronnie Hawkins' former backing group, the legendary Levon & The Hawks, later to become The Band. The main reason I played this tune is for the scorching Robbie Robertson inspired guitar solo by Freddie Keeler.

I e-mailed my pal, veteran Toronto journalist Larry LeBlanc, for some info on this scarce record (and the great guitar player). Larry has always claimed that Freddie's solo on Boom Boom is what inspired him to get into the wild and woolly music biz way back then. Here's just a little bit of what Larry had to say on the subject of Boom Boom:

The guitar player is Freddie Keeler. He was 16 at the time. Incidentally, that guitar solo was a one take.

Acta was owned by booking agent/later Toronto Sun columnist Sylvia Train. Then Toronto DJ Duff Roman started managing David Clayton Thomas and the Shays so they re-did the single for Roman records for the album but never got it right.

Listening to the recent Band box set I realized the direct musical debut to Levon and the Hawks by David Clayton Thomas & the Shays. The Shays were mostly from Willowdale. David's real name is David Thomsett and he went by the name Sonny Thomas & the Shays at first. After the Shays, David played with the Mandala and then David Clayton Thomas Bossmen and Combine among other groups before hitting the road with John Lee Hooker and others.

Freddie Keeler played in a number of bands, notably Jericho who recorded an outstanding album for Bearsville. He was asked to join Steppenwolf and even went down to San Francisco to audition. Bassist Nick St. Nicholas slipped LSD into his Coke. Freddie flipped & returned home.

Thanks Larry!

We heard Boom Boom on the March 29/10 Finger Full Of 45s edition of Roy's Record Room.

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