Interview with Kim Berley and Rich Dodson from The Stampeders

The Stampeders have been together since 1965. In 1971, they won a Juno Award for 'Best Group', 'Best Single' ("Sweet City Woman"), 'Best Producer' and 'Best Composer'. Between 1971 and 1976, they recorded ten albums, with many reaching gold and platinum status. Three of their songs entered the Top 30 in the U.S. ("Sweet City Woman" at #5) and twelve of their singles charted top-ten in Canada. The band went through a line up change in the late 70's and then took a few years off. However, the core of the band has always been Kim Berley, Rich Dodson and Ronnie King, and in 1992 the original line was together again. In 1996 the band made their first trip to Fredericton, New Brunswick (my home town) in 20 years, and it was if time had stood still. The band sounded great. The group is planning a cross Canada tour for the summer of 2001. This interview was conducted pool side at the Fredericton Motor Inn during the summer of 96.

GB - You started the band in 1965. Did you have any idea over 30 years later you would be still doing this?.

KB - When your 16 you don't believe your going to be still alive then, little own playing. (laughs) I didn't think beyond being 25, when I was 16.

GB- Who is coming out to see the band now older fans or younger people?

RD - Its a mixture of both. It's definitely our old fans, some bringing their kids and a lot of curious younger set. It's pretty diverse.

GB- Has the popularity of Classic Rock Radio helped the band out?

KB - Yes because back then we would have one song out at a time, now we got twenty. Classic Rock radio has been going strong now for quite some time, it must be nearly a decade. So the royalty cheques don't get any smaller, so that's kind of a cool thing.

GB - Is it attracting a new generation of fans to the band?

KB - Ya I'm sure it is. I know all kinds or younger people and their tastes are pretty eclectic. They like a nice wide spectrum of music. That's a good thing.

GB - How do you find the music industry has changed since you first started out?

KB - It's gigantic by comparison. It's twenty times bigger in the sense of the number of people who buy records and people who go out to shows. It's way bigger. Plus it's well organized now. There are places to play, there's equipment available all over the country. We used to have to lug truckloads of gear, lights, sound, the whole thing. But now I bring some sticks (laughs) I like it now.

GB - Is the number of clubs booking live bands declining now?

RD - We have been very fortunate to have a good name and a good track record, but in some places there is no place to play, its pretty much all dance clubs and turntables.

KB - One positive sign is that last night we were in Moncton and had a night off, so I walked down the main drag and there is a collection of four of five bars, and I went in all of them and the only bar that had any business was the one that had two live bands. I though that was terrific because it's been a long time.

GB - Perhaps the fans find the prices of concert tickets too steep now?

RD - We are trying to keep them low in the Maritimes. We are trying to keep it no higher than fifteen bucks. But I know what you mean, but it's a little more costlier to tour these days, like the price of sticks. (laughs)

GB - You were one of the first bands to make videos, were you not?

KB - We were quite literary one of the very first bands that made records in the seventies that have videos of our product that we made then. Much Music plays our old videos sometimes on their flashbacks. There aren't many that have videos. We actually went out and we did them on film. Nobody else was doing it. They didn't get played on television but we had a couple of TV specials that we did videos for.

RD - Videos I think have become a very big plus in communicating your product.

GB - Did Can Con help the band out?

KB- That's why you see the development of the Canadian Music Business around the early seventies. That's when Can Con came into being. We were literally one of the pioneers of that era. Us and Lighthouse, April Wine and The Guess Who and so on.

GB - What did you think of the hysteria from the fans in the early days?

RD - Really weird, but it was very exciting.

GB- Did you ever get a chance to crack the US market?

KB- We had a couple of big hits and a couple of lesser hits. But we didn't have nearly the success in the States we had here. We just kept banging them off here and they kept getting on the radio. We had ten albums here and I think four out in the States. It was tough but we toured a lot. We did a lot of work in the United States and whenever we were not here, we were there.

GB - What do you guys listen to now for music?

KB - There is not much I won't listen to. I move around the radio when we're in the car. I listen to everything from classical to country. I don't listen to a lot of retro music as I heard it the first time around and I'd kind of like to hear other things now. Lyle Lovett is one of my favorites right now.

RD- Everything, I produce some hiphop acts back in Toronto. I like dance music, a lot of the new country I like. I'm pretty diverse. I'm into anything I think is good.

GB - What would stand out as the highlight of you career?

RD- Going to the Junos in 71 was a big buzz. I really enjoyed that. Song of the year, Producer of the Year, all that, that was a real highlight. South America was good. We played there at a huge festival. Nineteen million viewers. We were bad. (laughs)

KB - For me it was kind of a general good time. One thing after the other. Your first Limousine ride is a big thrill, then they get pretty ordinary. (laughs)

GB - Any advice you could give to a band starting out today?

RD- Just hang in and keep going at it. If you believe in what your doing, stick to it. Try not to repeat the same mistakes twice and take care of the business.

KB - And get a lawyer too. (laughs)

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