MOXY "A Rock & Roll Path To Self Destruction"
MOXY was built out of the remnants of two Canadian rock groups "Leigh Ashford" and non-recording act "Outlaw Music". Douglas "Buzz" Shearman fronted a number of bands before MOXY. Buzz formed "Sherman & Peabody" , while still in his mid-teens with Greg Godovitz (Fludd & Goddo) and Gil Moore (Triumph) . Buzz then Joined "Flapping" in 1969, but left when they moved from Hamilton to play with Ian Thomas as "Tranquility Base". Buzz then joined the already-established(1967) "Leigh-Ashford" in 1970 and recorded the bands first full length album "Kinfolk " in 1971. Things were looking bright for the band as the album's first single, "Dickens", began gaining attention in the United States. They returned to Canada where they played the Strawberry Fields Festival in Mosport, Ontario. But, creative differences due to member turn-over rate was breaking the band up. It fell to singer Buzz Shearman to pick up the pieces and soldier on in 1972, when founding members Gord Waszek joining "Fludd" and Joe Agnello joining "Grant Smith and The Power". With "Leigh-Ashford" banging its collective head against a wall moving in many directions, Wally Cameron and Doni Underhill also decided to jump ship for the more affluent "Fludd" at the start of 1974.
Buzz eventually hooked-up with other brief former "Leigh-Ashford" members guitarist Earl Johnson (King Biscuit Boy) and drummer Bill Wade (Brutus & Outlaw Music). Still called "Leigh-Ashford" and playing a mix of new and 'original' music make their first appearance together at Scarborough's notorious rock pit "The Knob Hill Hotel" in October 74. Bassist Kim Fraser soon departed after a few shows with Earl recommending Terry Juric ( Outlaw Music ). With this new line up the group changed it's name to "MOXY" and in no time at all become regulars on the Ontario bar circuit, gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense, to-the-bones rock band.
The first single released in November 74 "Can't You See I'm A Star" received heavy radio support in Toronto by CHUM (AM) . MOXY then sign a contract to record an album with Polydor Records of Canada™ . The quick signing was mainly due to the popularity and success of Leigh Ashford and Buzz's showmanship reputation. The independently produced album self-titled "Moxy", was recorded with the help of Mark Smith of "BTO", who acted as co-producer. Tommy Bolin was a guest musician on the album, who had previously been the lead guitarist for the "James Gang" and would go on to replace Ritchie Blackmore in "Deep Purple". Tommy Bolin does all but two guitar solos, all rhythm guitar and the solos on "Sail On Sail Away", "Can't You See I'm A Star" and the ending of "Train" were performed by Earl Johnson. Earl was actually supposed to have done all the guitar parts, but got into a disagreement with the producer (Mark Smith) and was consequently tossed out of the studio. Tommy Bolin, being nearby, was asked by Moxy's manager Roland Paquin to fill in for Earl Johnson. Roland Paquin knew Bolin from when he was road manager for the "James Gang". Having heard the impact of the twin guitars, MOXY then needing a second guitarist, enlist Buddy Caine and quickly go from a bar band to headline concert attraction in Canada.
The debut album originally released in the spring of 1975 by Polydor for distributing only in Canada was picked up by many radio stations in the USA and was one of the most requested albums in Texas. As a consequence of the high demand in the U.S Moxy was picked-up by the larger Mercury Records label in the US and a national distribution deal was made and the album was reissued in 1976 worldwide. Both labels were owned by PolyGram at the time, they are now part of the Universal Music Group.
1976 saw MOXY start touring with another new Canadian Dixie-land favorite "Triumph" and opening for bands like "Black Sabbath", "Boston" , "Rainbow" and "Styx". Mainly touring throughout the Southern-U.S in support of "Moxy II" and the Re- release of 'Moxy" by Mercury Records™, that was issued just three months prior to "Moxy II". Moxy II was recorded in the band's hometown of Toronto at Sound Stage studio with famed "Aerosmith" producer Jack Douglas. Musically not as strong as the debut album and with some slower paced songs, many nevertheless considered this second album to be a carbon copy of the first. Moxy II was highly acclaimed on its release by Geoff Barton of the UK music publication Sounds (magazine), who made the album available to its readers for the special price of only £1.50. Geoff Barton would later refer to Moxy as the "Canadian Zeppelin"
"Ridin' High" released in 1977 with it's dual-guitar riffs heavy on the blues, a thunderous backbeat, a shrieking vocalist and Jack Douglas producing again, gets MOXY nominated for a JUNO award (Canadian Grammy). "Ridin' High" once more contained all-original material written by the band members with an even harder/heavy sound than the first two albums. On July 27th 1977 Joe Anthony the Godfather of Rock in San Antonio, invite MOXY for their first headline appearance in the United States. The first stop was Austin, Texas at Armadillo World Headquarters and the next night at the San Antonio arena, finally in Corpus Christ at the Ritz with "AC↯DC" as MOXY's opening act for all three dates. MOXY then toured California, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan with bands like "The Ramones", "Hall and Oats", "The Runaways" and "Trooper", ending the tour headlined Massey Hall in Toronto.
By the time the "Ridin' High" tour was in full swing most of MOXY's members had been touring in bands for almost a decade non-stop. Living a life filled with sex, drugs and rock & roll they quickly where self-destructing . Bill Wade had left during the tour and had been replaced by Danny Bilan. Buzz Shearman by mid 77 had developed vocal cord problems and singer/soundman Brian Maxim (singer on Moxy V) had to be called in to hit the high notes off stage. Buzz decided to leave the band after the Ridin' High tour, due to personality conflicts over the direction of the band and more importantly to seek medical attention for his vocal cords and drinking problems.
Forced by the record company to complete their contract in due time, Mike Reno then called Michael Rynoski replaces Buzz and makes his debut in music on MOXY's 4th album. "Under The Lights" gives a preview of the sound that Reno takes with him to "Loverboy" that saw great success in the 80s. Despite touring with bands like "Trooper" , "Johnny Winter" and "Aerosmith" MOXY no longer is garnering a strong response in either record sales or audiences it had with Buzz . Earl calls it quits in the summer of 78 with a clear desire for a harder edged sound.
Buzz had formed "BuzzSaw" with ex-"Christmas" guitarist Bob Bulger and drummer Frank Russe during the Reno times. By Oct 79 Buzz was back in control of MOXY and is shopping around for a new record deal, while playing key dates in the Southern U.S and Canada. Then Buzz was considered as a candidate to replace the deceased Bon Scott from "AC↯DC" in 1980. Buzz decline the offer not even going for an audition because his on/off again vocal cord problem would not allow him to tour extensively as AC↯DC did. During this time MOXY members also are helped other Canadian singer/songwriters in the studio like "Lee Aaron", "Thor" and "Stanley-Frank". Then tragedy strikes when "Buzz" dies in a motorcycle accident north of Toronto on June 16, 1983 at the age of 33. Moxy's remaining original members would reunite soon after Buzz's death to put on a benefit concert and release a retrospective package, with proceeds earmarked for Valerie(Buzz's Widow) and Jesse Shearman(Son). The retrospective package released by Pacemaker Records in 1984 called A Tribute to Buzz Shearman, features three previously unreleased Moxy songs with "Buzz" on vocals titled "Highway", "Eyeballs" and "Trouble".
By the mid 80s Earl is still recording some demos with Buddy and performing alongside Howie Warden and vocalist Tom Griffin in local Toronto Night Clubs like " El Mocambo", "Gasworks" and "Larry's Hideaway". Bill, Terry and eventually Buddy all latter formed there own bands "Voodoo", "Bongo Furies" and "The Buddy Caine Band" touring the same circuit.....
1999 saw the reunion of MOXY when Bill got Earl and Buddy back in the studio with vocalist Brian "Max", for a new album appropriately titled "Moxy V". Recorded at Bill's home studio and self produced. Bill was the catalyst behind the project, but grew very ill shortly after Moxy V was released and would succumb to cancer a year later on July 27, 2001.
The popularity that Moxy still holds in Europe prompted the band's first tour outside North America in 2001, accompanied with a new CD cover of Moxy V unique for the European fans. 2002 saw the release titled "Raw" that features songs from Moxy's appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 8, 2001 and there January 12, 2001 appearance at the El Mocambo in Toronto.
THE GODFATHER LIVES ON
A FAN site dedicated to the golden age of San Antonio radio station KISS/KMAC and it's legendary DJs, Lou Roney and "the Godfather" of Rock and Roll, Joe Anthony
San Antonio’s always been a rockin’ town. One of the primary reasons I’ll make the trip is because the city attracts classic hard rock acts that Austin usually won’t get. The true gems of San Antonio rock are the bands that broke onto the album-oriented hard rock scene of the mid-70s but didn’t get the national attention that Aerosmith or KISS received. Local favorites like Legs Diamond (California), UFO (England) and Moxy (Canada) were every bit as talented and influential as their Clear Channel classic rock-format colleagues that survive to sell thousands more CDs to this day.
The genre that predated the 80s heavy metal onslaught has always played well in traditional blue-collar places like New Jersey, Cleveland and Detroit. But something about San Antonio was a little bit different. In that era, albums and touring shows were the widest distribution a rock band could get. There were no cable networks for music videos, and the Internet and mp3s would be unknown for another generation or two. This made local radio DJs extremely influential, especially those with freedom to play entire album sides on their shows (the longer the better, for those wishing to step outside and indulge in a smoke of their choice).
San Antonio’s “Godfather” of rock was Joe Anthony of the KISS/KMAC stations. Anthony was hip to rising rock acts and would showcase the ones he thought most deserving by giving their LPs airtime on his shows. Many of these acts would be invisible to Texans from that decade had Anthony not played them. Besides his work as a DJ, Anthony also was a master promoter, bringing the domestic and imported acts he loved most to Texas and helping them gain a local fanbase. Moxy was one such band.
Moxy was a Toronto five-piece that debuted with a self-titled album seen as their best and most influential work by die-hard fans. The first album became popular through Texas airwaves and Anthony organized to bring them to the Lone Star State with an Australian opening act also popularized in San Antonio by the name of AC/DC. In July of 1977, Moxy headlined AC/DC’s first-ever United States show at Austin’s famed Armadillo World Headquarters. They followed that show with consecutive nights in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Dallas. Texans had gotten a taste of international rock and roll flavor- and they loved it.
Fast forward 30+ years. Music has changed, but favorites haven’t necessarily followed suit. San Antonio still prides itself as a rock Mecca, every bit as interested in the old guard as they were three decades ago. The names of bands, long reunited and broken up and reunited again, that come through this town reads like an inventory of your father and mine’s vinyls: Moxy, Budgie, Montrose, Saxon… Many of these bands come from other countries, continents even. And if they do only a handful of U.S. dates- even one- San Antonio is sure to be on the calendar.
With that spirit, thousands of San Antonians flocked to a free show at a Harley-Davidson dealership on the outskirts of town Saturday night to witness one of their favorite bands, Canadians at that, return to their second home. Moxy is not what they used to be, at least on paper. With deaths and retirement, plus the expected lineup changes after 35 years of being a band, Moxy is now a four-piece with lead guitarist Earl Johnson as their only remaining member from the “classic” mid-late 70s period. That didn’t stop them from rattling through all of the fan favorites, including 7 of the 8 tracks on that blockbuster 1975 debut album. Johnson was masterful in his first San Antonio gig handling both rhythm and lead duties, proving to all in attendance that he may have even gotten better with age since the last time I saw them, a 2004 gig at the Sunken Gardens with Budgie and Michael Schenker, a guitar legend in his own right. The newest addition to the band was lead singer Russ Graham (ex-Killer Dwarfs). Graham delighted in hitting the high notes and energy of original vocalist Buzz Shearman. Moxy closed with SA radio staple “Sail On Sail Away,” and the lighters came out in the light rain. Soon denim-vested, perm-mulleted, middle-aged men- and I- started headbanging along to the epic power ballad and all was right with the night.
Not to mention the lawless nature of the event. No firearm checks, no gate. Just $5 for parking in a grass field and you could walk right in. Had my father and I known we would have brought a cooler and set up shop selling Bud Lights for a dollar less than the licensed vendors were. Damn.
Here’s to hoping Moxy returns soon, because this close proximity to San Antonio that I take for granted won’t last once I graduate in the spring."
Earl Johnson Interview
* Buzz Shearman: vocals (1973-1977) (1979-1983)
* Earl Johnson: Guitar (1973-1978) (1999-present)
* Bill Wade: drums (1974-1978) (1999-2000)
* Terry Juric: Bass Guitar (1974-1983)
* Buddy Caine: Guitar (1975-1983) (1999-2008)
* Tommy Bolin: Guitar solos: Studio only MoxyI(1975)
* Tom Stephenson: Keyboards: Studio only MoxyI (1975)
* Mike Reno: Vocals (1978)
* Danny Bilan: Drums (1978-1983)
* Scott Cushine: Keyboards (1978)
* Woody West: Guitar (1978-1979)
* Doug MacAskill: Guitar (1979-1983)
* Brian Maxim: Vocals (1999-2003)
* Alex Machin: Vocals (2003-2008)
* Jim Samson: Bass (1999- present)
* Kim Hunt: Drums (2000- present)
* Russ Graham : Vocals (2008 - present)
* Moxy (1975) (1976)
* Moxy II (1976)
* Ridin' High (1977)
* Under The Lights (1978)
* A Tribute to Buzz Shearman (1984)
* Best Of: Self-Destruction (1994)
* Moxy V (2000)
* Raw (Live) (2002)
MOXY fan Club!
MOXY on YouTube
Reqiescat in Pace "R.I.P" ...
† Buzz Shearman 1950-1983
Lest We Forget.....
† Bill Wade 1948-2001