#1304: Oh My Lady by The Stampeders
The Stampeders are a rock trio from Calgary named after that city’s football team, The Calgary Stampeders. Although, it could be argued that the yearly Calgary Stampede was also an inspiration for their name. During the band’s most successful chart run from 1968 to 1976, it was made up of guitarist Rich Dodson, bass player Ronnie King (born Cornelius Van Sprang) and drummer Kim Berly (born Kim Meyer). All three provided vocals. Originally, the band was a group of five formed in 1964 called The Rebounds. The Rebounds had five members: Rich Dodson, Len Roemer, Brendan Lyttle, Kim Berly, and Race Holiday. They renamed themselves The Stampeders in 1965 and Len Roemer was replaced with Ronnie King and Van Louis, making them a band of six for a few years. But after a temporary move to Toronto in 1966 the band was down to three members, Dodson, King and Berly by 1968. Between 1967 and 1976 The Stampeders charted 15 singles into the Canadian RPM Top 40.
Originally outfitted with cowboy hats, T-kay denim pants, shirts and jackets and cowboy boots, by the early 70’s the band kept only the cowboy boots as mandatory attire. Their first single as a trio was in 1971 called “Carry Me”. While the song got some air play in Vancouver, it did not chart here. However, it climbed to #2 nationally. Their cache only increased with the release of their debut album and a #1 hit across Canada called “Sweet City Woman”. It also made the Top Ten in the USA. The band won four Juno Awards for “Best Composer,” “Best Producer,” “Best Single” and “Best Vocal Instrumental Group.”
On the strength of their success, their UK label, EMI, sponsored a tour to the UK and continental Europe. While on tour in 1972 they found themselves booked at the same hotel in Amsterdam overlapping with The Eagles. Back in North America, The Stampeders flew to Los Angeles where they performed at the iconic Whisky A-Go-Go, and were guests on the TV shows Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and The Dating Game. It was in Hollywood that the band met The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, who invited them to attend his birthday party at the Beverly Hills’ Wiltshire Hotel. In addition The Stampeders toured extensively in the early 70’s and on either side of the Canada-U.S. border found themselves variously sharing the billing with Black Oak Arkansas, Santana, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller, The James Gang, Robin Trower, Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, ZZ Top, The Eagles, Earth, Wind And Fire, Mountain, America, Tower Of Power, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Genesis. The Stampeders also traveled to Brazil to perform at a song festival in Rio in front of 90 million TV viewers.
A second album, Carryin’ On, produced several Top Ten singles across Canada: “Devil You”, Monday Morning Choo Choo” and “Wild Eyes”. A third album, Rubes, Dudes and Rowdies brought them further sales successes with several more single releases, including “Oh My Lady”.
“Oh My Lady” is a song plausibly about the end of a relationship. The singer is alone, and can sense that his “lady will be free.” Presumably, free from him. The simile referencing the pouring rain implies the circumstances are unwelcome, something they have to get through to move on to whatever follows in life. In the aftermath, there will be time for reflection and the hope that the darker night that is unfolding will be followed with a “brighter day.”
Another release from The Stampeders third album, “Minstrel Gypsy”, made the Top Ten in many radio markets across Canada, but failed to chart in Vancouver. In 1975 the band released their fifth album featuring the rocker, “Ramona”. Another studio album followed with two covers. One was the old Ray Charles hit, “Hit The Road Jack”, while the other was a former hit for Gary U.S. Bonds, “New Orleans“. The former cover by The Stampeders featured the DJ of American Graffiti fame, Wolfman Jack. The single won The Stampeders another Juno.
But the days were numbered for The Stampeders as a hit-making machine. They had some success again in 1976 with several singles. But after that in most Canadian radio markets the band was off the radar. By degrees the band was breaking up as Ronnie King and then Kim Berly left and were replaced by numerous other musicians. The larger line-up of Stampeders made the cost of touring unfeasible and the band finally split up in 1980. As of July 2017, The Stampeders trio of King, Berly and Dodson continue to tour with 13 upcoming concerts across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
July 9, 2017
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