Harlequin Port Theatre
Harlequin Port Theatre with guests: Deborah Pitre & Kenneth Ermter Duo
Winnipeg’s own Harlequin is coming to the Port Theatre for the first time, February 24th.
Since the mid-’70s, Harlequin has been rocking venues, playing the hits everyone loves. If you’ve never seen a Harlequin show you owe it to yourself to see why they are still around after more than three decades.
They still enjoy major airplay on the radio and are featured prominently in many a classic rocker’s music collection.
In 1975, Winnipeg bassist Ralph James formed Harlequin upon recruiting vocalist George Belanger, guitarist Glen Willows, keyboardist Gary Golden, and drummer David Budzak. The band began recording demos and travelling to Toronto to perform in the local bars and clubs. It was in one of these small bars in Toronto that Harlequin were discovered by representatives of Jack Douglas, the producer of Aerosmith, John Lennon, and Patti Smith, after they tried to see another band in a larger bar downstairs, but could not gain admittance due to a sell-out crowd. These two individuals later became the producers of the first album, Victim of a Song. They were Lachlan MacFadyen and Kent Dobney… former bandmates of Jack Douglas.
Douglas helped get Harlequin signed to CBS/Epic Records in 1979, and later that year that band released their first LP, Victim of a Song, which went Gold, and received heavy radio play, particularly in Western Canada. Douglas was listed as the record’s executive producer. For the next two albums, Douglas would act as producer. The band’s second release, Love Crimes (1980), yielded two hits, “Thinking of You”, and “Innocence”, Harlequin’s biggest hit to date. Harlequin’s third album, One False Move (1982), contained two more hits, “Superstitious Feeling” and “I Did It for Love”.
For their self-titled fourth studio album, Harlequin replaced Douglas with The Fixx bassist Alfie Agius as their producer. Harlequin (1984) produced only one single, “Take This Heart”. The band effectively split after this album but, in 1986, Harlequin released their Greatest Hits album with one new track “(It’s) No Mystery”. This track was written by David Bendeth and Tom Cochrane, produced by Bendeth, and featured Belanger on lead vocals backed by Randy Booth, Randy Heibert and some session musicians. In 1986, the line-up was Belanger (vocals), Randy Heibert (guitar), Randy Booth(bass), Igmar Munsch(keys), and Brad Meadmore (drums). The line-up changed almost yearly through the rest of the 1980s until 1987, when the line up of Glen Willows, George Belanger, Nik Rivers, Rob Waite and M.J. Hutton toured coast to coast in Canada for several years, into 2007. Throughout that period Steve Broadhurst toured with the band as a sub for Rob Waite, and Paul McNair was also a sub for M.J.
In 2004, Belanger met James Brose, who had completed a CD of his own, and asked George what he thought of it. After George expressed his opinion, James asked George what he should do. The result was a reverse engineering project which stripped the songs down. Most of the tracks were completely re-written and re-recorded. George rewrote lyrics and melodies, and the result was called Harlequin II.
In 2006, the band was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
In 2007, Harlequin consisted of guitarist Derrick Gottfried, bassist Nik Rivers, keyboardist Darren Moore, and drummer A.J. Chabidon. This lineup released Waking the Jester (2007), which contained two singles, “Shine On” and “Rise”. The band resumed touring and, in 2009, released Harlequin’s first live album, Live On/Q.
In 2013 Harlequin consisted of Lead Singer (original) George Belanger, guitarist Derrick Gottfried, drummer A.J. Chabidon, keyboard and guitar (original) Gary Golden and bassist Paul McNair and is the current line up touring in 2017
The band continues to tour, mostly within Canada.
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