#1305: Moonlight Desires by Gowan
Lawrence Gowan was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1956. His family moved to Scarborough, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, when he was a child. He recalls that his “marks in high-school were of a caliber that left me no option but to pursue the occupation of Rockstar.” He practiced piano and was trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He formed a trio called Rhindgold in 1976. As the lead vocalist and keyboardist, Lawrence Gowan also demonstrated acrobatics on the stage and dancing on top of his baby grand piano. Rhinegold was a progressive rock act in the mold of Supertramp, Electric Light Orchestra and Yes.
However, there were numbers of other groups crowding the pop music circuit and airwaves that sounded much the same, like Rush and Trooper. In addition, the late 70s was the time of Donna Summer (“Bad Girls”, “Hot Stuff”) the Bee Gees (“Night Fever”, “Stayin’Alive”), Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”) and Chic (“Le Freak”, “Good Times”). Even the Rolling Stones had some disco-infused rock ‘n roll with hits at the time with “Hot Stuff” and “Miss You”. In the face of the disco onslaught, Rhinegold disbanded.
In the aftermath, Lawrence Gowan joined the Toronto band, Klaatu (“Calling Occupants“). Then a new medium broke open new possibilities for him. Gowan appeared on a music video. He released his first self-titled album, Gowan, in 1982. The following year he received a Juno Award nomination in the category of Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year.
In 1985 he received critical acclaim for his second album, Strange Animal. Recorded at Ringo Starr’s Startling Studios in the hamlet of Ascot in England’s Berkshires. He won two Juno Awards, one for Best Album Graphics and a second for the first single from the album, A Criminal Mind. This led to being an opening act on tour in Canada with The Kinks.
His third studio album, Great Dirty World, spawned three single releases. The first was “Moonlight Desires”, a song featuring the backing vocals of Jon Anderson of the rock group, Yes. The lyrics explore the power of erotic attraction and ongoing bond between two people in a relationship.
Without desire in a relationship affection and attraction can quickly smolder and burn out. In this relationship the nightly desires give freedom to what burns inside “unknown, raging on never mentioned.” Many listeners in Vancouver resonated with the song.
“Moonlight Desires” peaked at #2 in Montreal, #4 in Hamilton (ON), #14 in Vancouver, and #17 in Buffalo (NY).
Gowan went on to tour a number of times in the UK. He played one of his own compositions, together with the London Symphony Orchestra, for the opening of Princess Diana’s memorial at her resting place in Althorp on September 6, 1997, after the procession from Westminster. On another trip to the UK Gowan opened for the punk rock band The Stranglers.
In 1999 Gowan was invited to be lead vocalist and keyboardist with the American progressive rock group Styx (“Babe” and “Mr. Roboto“). Over the past 16 years Gown has enjoyed frequent touring with the band including two Superbowl concerts, the Tokyo-dome and a 2007 concert at Wembley stadium.
October 26, 2016
The Life and Times of Lawrence Gowan, Gowan.com
Aaron Broffy, The Strange Stories Behind ‘Strange Animal,’ Gowan’s 30-Year-Old Classic Album, Huffington Post, February 4, 2015.
“CKLG Top Thirty,” CKLG 730 AM, Vancouver, BC, May 5, 1987.
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