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The Magic Circus

James Houston (Guitar, Vocals) 

Al Palmquist (Guitar, Vocals) 

Al Spencer (Bass) 

Roz Parks (Drums) 


Colin Walker (Drums) 

The Magic Circus were best known for containing future Paupers’ members Roz Parks (b. 15 April 1945, Picton, Ontario) and James Houston (b. 25 May 1946, Belfast, Northern Ireland).

Houston, Parks and Spencer (b. 7 March 1947, London, England), had previously been members of The Creeps but changed name in early 1967 when guitarist Al Palmquist replaced Dave Morgan.

The band was best known for the 50-minute rock symphony, ‘March of The Mushroom’, written largely by Houston. Aside from playing other original material, the group also played Beatles, Beach Boys, Association and Mamas & The Papas covers.

The band was popular on Toronto’s club scene and opened for many of the top artists of the day, including Del Shannon, Wilson Pickett, The Turtles, Mitch Ryder, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Ronnie Hawkins and The Left Banke. They also toured widely throughout Ontario playing high schools and dance halls.

Parks left in July 1968 to play with Edward Bear briefly before replacing Skip Prokop in The Paupers in October.

Australian Colin Walker from the Australian band, The Flying Circus joined in his place. The band then played as The Carnival (apart from a couple of shows, including the ‘Time Being’ held at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in September where they played as The Magic Circus).

Houston also joined The Paupers in April 1969 after turning an offer down from Skip Prokop to play bass in Lighthouse (he may also have fronted Wizard’s Hand for a while).

Palmquist and Spencer carried on as The Carnival on TV shows and then resumed the Magic Circus name.

Advertised gigs

18 March 1967 – Lakeshore Lions Arena, Toronto with The Strays

24 March 1967 – Queen’s Park, London, Ontario

25 March 1967 – Hidden Valley, Huntsville, Ontario with The Left Banke

27 March 1967 – St John’s Church, Niagara Falls, Ontario

28 March 1967 – The Night Owl, Toronto

29 March 1967 – The Castle, St Catherine’s, Ontario

30 March 1967 – Brant Inn, Burlington, Ontario

31 March 1967 – Royal Plaza, Clarkson, Ontario


1 April 1967 – Huntingdon Park Commercial Centre, Hamilton, Ontario


3 June 1967 – The Flick, Toronto

10 June 1967 – Scarborough Arena Gardens, Scarborough, Ontario with Eddie Spencer & The Mission, Roy Kenner & The Associates, The Tripp, Bobby Kris & The Imperials, The Lords of London and others


5 July 1967 – Muskoka Pavillion, Bala, Ontario

21 July 1967 – Huron Park Recreation Centre, Cooksville, Ontario


9 August 1967 – Cobourg Pavilion, Cobourg, Ontario

27 August 1967 – Summer Gardens, Port Dover, Ontario with The Federations


1 October 1967 – Paradise Gardens, Guelph, Ontario with Three to One

16-18 October 1967 – The Flick, Toronto

19 October 1967 – The Flick, Toronto


2 November 1967 – Stratford College Institute, Stratford, Ontario

3 November 1967 – Crosby High School, Forthill, Ontario

4 November 1967 – Belleville Arena, Belleville, Ontario

5 November 1967 – Club Shingaling, Welland, Ontario


21 December 1967 – Annandale High School, Ontario

22 December 1967 – Brampton High School, Brampton, Ontario

23 December 1967 – Pelham District High, Fenwick, Ontario

26 December 1967 – St Nick’s Church, Hamilton, Ontario

27 December 1967 – Kitchener College Institute, Kitchener, Ontario

28 December 1967 – The Night Owl, Toronto

29 December 1967 – St Martin’s Church, Niagara, Ontario

30 December 1967 – Haileybury High School, Haileybury, Ontario

31 December 1967 – Kirkland Lake, Ontario


6 January 1968 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario

12 January 1968 – York University, Toronto with The Paupers and The Last Words

12 January 1968 – Brantford Collegiate Institute, Brantford, Ontario


1 February 1968 – University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario

2 February 1968 – Forrest Hills Collegiate, Forest Hills, Ontario

3 February 1968 – Forest Hills CI, Kitchener, Ontario

4 February 1968 – St Martin In The Field Church, Toronto

6 February 1968 – St John’s Church, Niagara Falls, Ontario


5 April 1968 – Cayuga High School, Cayuga, Ontario

6 April 1968 – Barton High School, Hamilton, Ontario

11 April 1968 – Port Dover Composite School, Port Dover, Ontario

12 April 1968 – Club Shade Blue, Toronto

13 April 1968 – Wallaceberg Teen Club, Wallaceberg, Ontario


18 May 1968 – Sauble Beach Pavilion, Sauble Beach, Ontario


13 June 1968 – Waterford Arena, Waterford, Ontario

14 June 1968 – Elmiria District HS, Elmiria, Ontario

15 June 1968 – Crystal Beach Pavilion, Crystal Beach, Ontario

16 June 1968 – St Gabriel’s Church, Burlington, Ontario

18 June 1968 – Glenbriar Arena, Kitchener, Ontario

20 June 1968 – East Hamilton Kiwanis Club, Hamilton, Ontario

21 June 1968 – Brantford Collegiate Institute, Brantford, Ontario

22 June 1968 – Rideau Ferry Inn, Smith Falls, Ontario

25 June 1968 – Dundas Arena, Dundas, Ontario

26 June 1968 – Georgetown Arena, Georgetown, Ontario

27 June 1968 – Stratford Arena, Straford, Ontario

28 June 1968 – Cobourg Pavilion, Cobourg, Ontario

29 June 1968 – The Gette, Oshawa, Ontario


2 July 1968 – Toronto City Hall, Toronto

3 July 1968 – Wallaceburg Arena, Wallaceburg, Ontario

5 July 1968 – Pav-Orillia, Orillia, Ontario

6 July 1968 – Kee-to-Bala, Bala, Ontario (Roz Parks’ last gig?)


10 August 1968 – Sauble Beach Pavilion, Sauble Beach, Ontario


1-2 September 1968 – ‘Time Being’ at CNE, Toronto


14 February 1970 – The Get (O’Neill Collegiate), Toronto


7 March 1970 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto


16 May 1970 – Hidden Valley, Huntsville, Ontario with Beadree

17 May 1970 – Hidden Valley, Huntsville, Ontario


5 June 1970 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Onatario with The Poor Souls (billed as Majic Circus)

Most of these gigs were taken from the After Four section of the Toronto Telegram. Thanks to Roz Parks, James Houston and Al Spencer for their input.

Copyright © Nick Warburton. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author

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Left to right: Gord Fleming, Frank De Felice, Fred Keeler and Denny Gerrard. Photo may be subject to copyright.

Fred Keeler (Guitar, Vocals) 

Gord Fleming (Keyboards, Accordion, Vocals) 

Denny Gerrard (Bass, Vocals) 

Frank Di Felice (Drums) 


Scott Cushnie (Keyboards) 

Danny Marks (Guitar, Vocals) 

Bob Yeomans (Drums) 

This musically interesting band was formed in March 1970 by former Paupers member (turned manager) Chuck Beal, who teamed Fleming and Keeler, both of whom had worked together in the mid-1960s with The Shays with former Paupers’ bass player Gerrard and ex-Grant Smith & The Power drummer Di Felice.

Between The Shays and Jericho, Fleming had played with Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks, John Hammond and Gord’s Custom R&B Sound, while Keeler had been in The Majestics. Gerrard had done stints with McKenna Mendelson Mainline and Luke & The Apostles.

The group recorded an album, produced by Todd Rundgren, at The Band’s Bearsville Studios. Rundgren incidentally also worked with The Band around this time and is also featured on guitar.

The sound not surprisingly then is reminiscent of The Band’s Stage Fright period and is thoroughly recommended. Rundgren’s production is top notch, particularly on tracks “Make It Better” and “Lonely As Me”.

“Make It Better” reached #80 on the Canadian RPM chart in July 1971 by which point Fleming and Keeler had lost interest and left. Gerrard left too to join Heaven and Earth.

Di Felice quickly reformed the group with ex-Tundra member Scott Cushnie and former Edward Bear and Mama Lion member Danny Marks.

Bob Yeomans replaced Di Felice in late 1971 but the band broke up soon afterwards. Cushnie subsequently played with Mudlark (and also worked with Aerosmith) while Yeomans was one half of Jackson Hawk.

Fleming subsequently joined Great Speckled Bird and also did stints with Cat Stevens and the McGarrigle sisters. He died in February 1996.

Gerrard played with Heaven and Earth and recorded two singles for RCA Victor before forming Great White Cane (both groups were fronted by Rick James).

Marks subsequently joined Rick James & The Stone City Band after a brief stint with Zig Zag.


45 True Fine Girl/Back Track (Ampex 1303) 1971 (Canada)

45 Make It Better/Cheater Man (Bearsville X31003) 1971 (US)

LP front cover. Left to right: Gerrard, Fleming, De Felice and Keeler

LP Jericho (Ampex 10112) 1971 (Canada)

LP Jericho (Bearsville 10112) 1971 (US)

Copyright © Nick Warburton. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author

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David Clayton-Thomas Combine

David Clayton-Thomas (Vocals)

Jack Mowbray (Guitar)

Peter Hodgson (Bass)

Pat Patterson (Drums) then

Pat Little (Drums)

David Clayton-Thomas formed this band in Toronto in February 1968 with former Bossmen guitarist Jack Mowbray, who had been playing in Italy for six months backing pop singer Nicola di Barri.

He also brought in former Jon-Lee Group (aka Jon & Lee and The Checkmates) bass player Peter Hodgson for his new band and drummer Pat Patterson who was quickly replaced by ex-Luke & The Apostles and Edward Bear drummer Pat Little.

The group recorded the original versions of “Spinning Wheel” and “Father Dear Father” for Arc Records, which were pressed for a single but it’s not clear if any copies were released.

In June, Clayton-Thomas was asked to be Al Kooper’s replacement in Blood, Sweat & Tears and the band split up. Hodgson moved out to LA and joined Jackson Browne’s band (recording an unreleased album) and later Rhinoceros.

Little and Mowbray joined another ex-Bossmen, Tony Collacott in The Georgian People, which soon changed name to Chimo!

Advertised gigs

16-24 March 1968 – El Patio, Toronto (After Four section of Toronto Telegram)

Thanks to Pat Little and Peter Hodgson for help with the entry

Copyright © Nick Warburton. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author


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