Willie

Willie was always ready for a laugh as though nothing bothered him. He always seemed to know what was happening especially with pop groups and musicians when Rock and Roll was coming into view. I've often wondered if I'd ever've taken up drumming if it weren't for Willie. It was Willie’s idea to start a band that would need a drummer; and Willie knew that Phil Exton on the Lakeshore had a drum set to sell. And when our friend, my neighbour Harry, abandoned his Eaton's catalogue guitar, Willie found Gibbie who had a garage to rehearse in. Willie knew of the Gem movie theater up on Dundas where groups played at Saturday matinee movie intermissions. He found Norm Parish our brilliant 15 or 16 year old saxophone player who seemed to know all Red Prysock's swinging tunes with their thundering off beat. And when Gibbie left, Willie recruited guitar playing singer Gene MacLellan, future writer of Ann Murray hits .

I never did ask Willie about his past and why at the age of about 17 he was living at Mrs. Beatty's tourist home overlooking the Sunnyside amusement park and the big wooden roller coaster painted white where Reese Pitcher, a rabid R&B fan until "The Franker"(Sinatra) reappeared in the late 50's used to ride standing to the top and down waving his arms over his head and yelling. And I never asked why at 17 Willie had a steady day job and why he never seemed to take a day off or why he called everyone "George".

Willie's greatest feat was getting myself, Gene and Norm from our west end, Parkdale, rehearsals to become with Bruce, Len and Harold at Playter Hall at Broadview and Danforth, The Consuls , and I never had a chance to ask him how he did it.