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David Clayton-Thomas & The Phoenix

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David Clayton-Thomas (Guitar, Vocals)

Michael Fonfara (Keyboards)

Larry Leishman (Guitar)

Peter Hodgson (Bass)

Jeff Cutler (Drums)

When singers John Finley and Lee Jackson left The Jon-Lee Group (aka Jon & Lee and The Checkmates) in mid-September 1967, Toronto singer David Clayton-Thomas picked up their backing band, renamed it The Phoenix and moved to New York.

After a month’s rehearsals, the group debuted at the Bitter End and then briefly played at the East Scene in October before working as the house-band at Steve Paul’s The Scene.

The band’s career, however, was cut short during early November  when Clayton-Thomas was deported for being an illegal alien.

Leishman also returned to Toronto at this point and played with several groups, including The Power Project and Bobby Kris & The Imperials before joining The Duke Edwards Cycle in late 1968.

Hodgson meanwhile was offered a place in Project Supergroup (later Rhinoceros) in December and flew out to Los Angeles to audition.

After being passed over for the group in early 1968, he briefly rejoined David Clayton-Thomas in his group, David Clayton-Thomas Combine. When that split in mid-1968, Hodgson moved back to the US and became a member of the Paxton Ranch Band, playing on Jackson Browne’s early recordings (aka Baby Browning).

Cutler stayed in New York and worked with an embryonic version of Hot Tuna and then did a stint drumming and managing The Crazy World of Arthur Brown during the band’s summer ’68 North American tour. He later worked as a manager for The Holy Modal Rounders.

When Clayton-Thomas had previously worked in New York in March 1967, he had shared a flat with former Bob Dylan bass player Harvey Brooks, who was in the process of putting The Electric Flag together.

Apparently Brooks had offered Thomas the original vocal slot in the group, but he declined.

Fonfara however, did accept an invitation from the Flag’s drummer Buddy Miles to replace Barry Goldberg when the latter got busted in November 1967.

Fonfara duly appeared on the group’s debut album, before becoming a member of Project Supergroup the following month, which soon changed name to Rhinoceros.

Hodgson and Leishman both rejoined Fonfara in Rhinoceros in 1969.

David Clayton-Thomas joined Blood, Sweat & Tears in June 1968.

Advertised gigs

19-22 October 1967 – Steve Paul’s The Scene, New York with The Carnival Connection

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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The Power Project

Doug Stokes (Vocals)

Greg Carducci (Bass)      

Ray Rychlewski (Drums)


Josef Chirowski (Keyboards)

Larry Leishman (Guitar)

Singer Doug Stokes formed The Power Project in mid-1967 with former Roy Kenner & The Associates members Carducci and Rychlewski.

Former Mandala member Josef Chirowski and ex-David Clayton-Thomas & The Phoenix and Jon-Lee Group guitarist Larry Leishman joined around November 1967.

The band never recorded but did open for James Brown at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. The Power Project played during the evenings only as Chirowski was working for Canadian Pacific Railways during the day.

After a few months of playing live, the group changed name to Freedom Fair in January 1968.

The band reverted to The Power Project name in mid-1968. Chirowski joined Grant Smith & The Power at the end of 1968, before becoming a member of Crowbar, while Leishman ended up with Rhinoceros after a stint with The Duke Edwards Cycle and Bobby Kris & The Imperials.

Advertised gigs

10 June 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

30 June 1967 – North York Centennial Centre, Toronto with Mandala, The Spirit and Livingstone’s Tripp

30 June 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto


14 July 1967 – Balmy Beach Club, Scarborough, Ontario

15 July 1967 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario with The Ugly Ducklings and Trayne

26 July 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

28 July 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto


6 August 1967 – Port Carling Surf Club, Port Carling, Ontario


8 September 1967 – The Thing, Toronto with The Jon-Lee Group

15 September 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

23 September 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

Chirowski and Leishman joined during November

4 November 1967 – Hawk’s Nest, Toronto with The Tiffanies

11 November 1967 – The Pavilion, Orillia, Ontario

19 November 19 1967 – Maple Leaf Gardens with James Brown (this may have been May 1968)

25 November 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto


2 December 1967 – Inferno, Toronto

9 December 1967 – The Bunny Bin, Toronto with The Counts and Bunny Band

30 December 1967 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

31 December 1967 – Broom and Stone, Scarborough, Ontario with Jackie Shane, Frank Motley The Hitch-Hikers


26 January 1968 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto


28 June 1968 – Port Carling Surf Club, Port Carling, Ontario


5 July 1968 – Port Carling Surf Club, Port Carling, Ontario

The gigs were taken from the After Four section in the Toronto Telegram. Thanks to Larry Leishman for some background information.

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