#1270: I’m Running After You by Major Hoople’s Boarding House
In their early promotional material Kitchener, Ontario’s, Major Hoople’s Boarding House said of their young quintet: “Over 69 years of musical experience comprise the Boarding House Band. The Band started when Major Hoople got himself a set of drums, and with his nightly practice, kept everybody else awake all night. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And so other boarders got instruments and started singing and making sounds all night long, too. Freddie Fritz, basement dweller, still three years behind with the rent, plays lead guitar. Peter Patter, third floor apartment, plays rhythm. Pop’s thumbs base guitar… And Ma Hoople plays organ. And what a voice. You should hear her call the boarders for supper.”
Major Hoople was actually Richard Riddell from Brazil. Riddell didn’t sing. But the rest of the band, in addition to their instruments, all contributed to their vocal sound. Peter Patter (Peter Paladino) was from Milano, Italy. Freddie Fritz (Richard “Rocky” Howell) was born in Gaspe, Quebec. Ma Hoople (Gail Selkirk) was born in Kitchener, Ontario. And Pop’s (David Lodge) was the premiere songwriter for the group and was born in Wiarton, Ontario.
Rocky Howell and Peter Paladino met each other in 1960 when Rocky was in grade six at St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School. Rocky had performed his first concert for the public at the school. He and Peter started performing at local parties. In 1965 the duo added drummer Rick Riddell to form a trio and in 1966 named themselves the Shan-da-leers. Their manager was Larry Shannon, a local DJ at Kitcheners’ CHYM. During 1967 they added vocalist and bass player Dave Lodge to become a quartette.
There was a comic strip called Our Boarding House/Major Hoople. It began in 1921 when cartoonist Gene Ahern was asked by the Newspaper Enterprise Association to create a comic strip around the theme of a boarding house. Ahern first began to create scenarios for the new comic strip based on his own experiences as a boarder while he was an art student in Chicago. Set in a boarding house run by the sensible Mrs. Hoople, the comic strips humor drew from the interactions of her grandiose, tall-tale-telling husband, the self-styled Major Hoople, with the rooming-house denizens and his various friends and cronies. The comic strip ran from September 16, 1921, to December 22, 1984. Major Hoople has been compared to Shakespeare’s character, Falstaff, the buffoonish suitor of two married women in the play The Merry Wives of Windsor. In the comic strip Major Hoople is a retired military man of dubious, often invented, achievement. Like Falstaff, Major Hoople often brags about his adventures in the army. Due to the sketchy tales the major tells, his buffoonery sometimes evoked pity for Major Hoople in the comic strips readership.
In November 1967 the Shan-da-leers got permission from Our Boarding House/Major Hoople comic strip to use their name. As a result Major Hoople’s Boarding House band was born. In 1968 the band added one final member, Gail Selkirk. Peter Padalino called her “the little girl with the big voice.” From 1968 into the mid-70s the band was a regional sensation in south-central Ontario, while based in their hometown of Kitchener. They invited concert goers to discover “the Hoople-delic rock sound of Major Hoople’s Boarding House.” Their live concerts were primarily between Kitchener and Kingston, Ontario, including Toronto and Hamilton as regular stops while constantly touring. They got a record deal with a small local label, MUCH Records in 1970.
Major Hoople’s Boarding House was known for their accomplished musicianship. They tackled difficult material that other bands stayed clear of. The band could bring down the house with their cover of Richard Harris’ 1968 hit “MacArthur Park”, “Hocus Pocus” by Focus and anything by the Moody Blues. With Rocky Howell’s falsetto voice, they could do exhilarating covers of any numbers of songs by the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (and maybe Lou Christie if they’d wanted to). There were a few changes in the lineup. Richard Riddell and Gail Selkirk left the band in 1972 and were replace by Peter Beacock and Ed Miller. David Lodge focused on songwriting for the group and management and was replaced in the band’s lineup by Keith Stahlbaum. A sixth band member, Dave Gooding on saxophone, was added in 1975.
In the early 70s the band moved to Polydor Records and then in 1975 signed with Axe Records. This collaboration resulted in the release of their sixth single and signature song called “I’m Running After You”. It was their only Top 30 hit in Canada. The song peaked on the Canadian RPM charts at #28 and in Vancouver peaked at #15. The song is sung from the perspective of someone who recognizes that the relationship they have is the one meant for them. It appears the relationship has reached a crisis point. One person in the relationship has split and so the one left behind wakes up each morning to find that they really are all alone. Now they are running after their recently exited partner to make the pitch that they mustn’t give up the life they knew together.
Chorus: I’m running after you
I can’t forget the things you do,
I won’t give up the life we knew,
I’m running after you, after you.
How was I supposed to know
that you’d grow up and knock me off my feet?
Ever since we spent the night together,
loving you is all that matters,
no one else can make me feel this way.
Now I know how much it means
to touch your hair and hold you in my arms.
Only you can start my senses reeling,
loving you’s a crazy feeling
I just got to have you back again.
Bridge: Every night I dream about you
but then you’re gone when I awake.
I don’t think I can live without you,
I got to have you before I go insane.
In 1976 they had a follow-up single called “You Girl” that peaked at #80 on the Canadian RPM singles chart. One other single cracked the RPM singles chart peaking at #89 in 1980 called “Someone.” In 1982, they performed with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
One of the founding band members, David Lodge, rejoined Major Hoople’s Boarding House for a tour in 1985. Lodge had recently co-written the 1983 hit by German recording artist Peter Schilling, “Major Tom”, as well as another track,“Lifetime Guarantee” from Schillings’ album Error in the System. In 1986 they released a new album, New Adventures of Hooples, which entered the Top 10 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary Album chart. Sadly, the band’s successful songwriter, David Lodge, passed away at the end of 1986 of cancer at the age of 39.
By the end of 1987 Major Hoople’s Boarding House re-formed and played festivals and concerts into the early 90s. A highlight during this period was a concert in London, Ontario. Then, after nearly twenty years of being dis-banded, Peter Paladino, Gail Selkirk and Rocky Howell got together to re-start the band in 2010. They added two other musicians to complete their line-up. They signed keyboard player Ralph Hetke and drummer Ron Duke. On September 9, 2011, Gail Selkirk wrote to Toronto Mike on his blog to let him know Major Hoople’s Boarding House had two upcoming concerts at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener, Ontario, on November 25th and 26th. As of the fall of 2016 Major Hoople’s Boarding House has appeared at concerts in southwestern Ontario.
Meanwhile, Gail Selkirk was part of a duo named the Katfight Keys. In early 2015, she and Chuckee Zehr performed at the International Showcase – International Blues Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. Gail wore cat ears onto the stage which was a bit hit with the audience. The duo were thrilled to be able to play “Layla” on the very piano that Eric Clapton wrote the song.
January 12, 2017
Major Hoople’s Boarding House ~ History, Major Hoople’s Boarding House Band History.com
Major Hoople’s Boarding House, Citizen Freak.com
Toronto Mike,Major Hoople’s Boarding House’s Gail Selkirk, Toronto Mike’s Blog, June 10, 2008.
Steve Kannon, Picking Up Right Where They Left Off, ObserverXtra, Woolwich and Wellesley Townships, November 30, 2012.
Scott Wishart, Katfight Keys, a Stratford-Tavistock blues duo, impress at International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., Stratford Beacon-Herald, Stratford, Ontario, January 28, 2015.
Peter Schilling, “Major Tom,” 1983 (co-written by David Lodge)
Major Hoople’s Boarding House, “You Girl,” 1976
Major Hoople’s Boarding House, “Someone,” 1980.
“CKLG ‘Thirty’,” CKLG 730 AM, Vancouver, BC, October 14, 1975.
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