CHAMPION

Country Canada

Style AOR

Formed in 1982 in Michigan, CHAMPION is an electric mix of musicians brought together by singer / songwriter Alex Machin, a Scottish born front man and the driving force behind CHAMPION’S music.

After being convinced at the age of 15 to put down the guitar and pick up the mike, Alex began a prosperous career that would span a spectrum of playing for 10 people in a small Northern Ontario bar, to playing for 100,000 people at a rock festival in Vermont. From the beginning Alex seemed to surround himself with gifted musicians who had bright futures in the music industry.

At age 19 he briefly joined the CHRISTOPHER EDWARD CAMPAIGN whose members included Bill Wade, the future drummer of Moxy, and Doni Underhill who went on to be the bass player for TROOPER. The CAMPAIGN, ended however when Alex met “Hot” guitarist Paul Naumann, and in turn joined NUCLEUS, a thriving Toronto based rock band with a strong reputation. Along with Hughie Leggat on bass, Danny Taylor on drums and Bob Horne on keyboards, the powerful quintet preformed successfully at outdoor and indoor venues highlighted by a concert before 25,000 people with the Guess Who at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium. A trip to the studio was imminent.

The independently released NUCLEUS tape made it’s way onto CHUM FM, the biggest progressive rock station in Canada at the time. The exposure caught the ear of Frank Davies of Daffodil Records who immediately signed them onto the label. It was Frank Davies who concocted the now famous name for the band: A FOOT IN COLDWATER. With the release of their debut album, a stunning rock balled, (Make Me Do) Anything You Want , was quickly discovered and rocketed to number one across the nation. Critics and fans alike anxiously awaited something new from the band who hand an instant classic on their first album. A FOOT IN COLDWATER did not disappoint.

In 1973, The Second Foot In Coldwater was released and another successful ballad, “In My Life” climbed the charts. With such a strong Canadian reaction to “Foot”, American interest escalated, and in 1974 a deal was consummated with Electra Records. John Anthony, Queen’s original manager and producer, was brought on board to produce an international version of Foot music at London’s famous Trident Studio’s. The Elecktra LP contained all the Canadian hits plus some brand new material from an exciting, young Canadian band. Upon the date of their debut American release entitled “All Around Us”, Rolling Stone Magazine glowingly compared the Canadian classic “Make Me Do (Anything You Want) “ with Procol Harem’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”.

As the second LP option was to be called for by Electra, an unexpected merger of Warner Brothers, Electra and Atlantic records took place and the now famous WEA Alliance was formed. It now appears in hindsight that Alex and Foot got “lost” in the shuffle.

During the next two years, the band toured in Canada and eventually signed with Anthem Records. They released their fourth album “Breaking Through”, but were seriously disappointed with Anthem’s marketing approach to what they felt, was their best musical effort to date. Their relationship with Anthem ended, and shortly thereafter A FOOT IN COLDWATER disbanded. Their seven years together had it’s highs and lows including having fellow Canadians RUSH as an opening act to becoming an opening act for Rush and performing with such acts as Electric Light Orchestra, The Guess Who, Procol Harem and the J. Geils Band.

Looking back, philosophically on his career, Alex realized that he had been a co-writer for most of his proceeding years and felt that now was the time to work on his own material. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles where he landed a staff writer position with United Artists Music on Hollywood Boulevard. Management changes in the early 80’s, however, found Alex looking for new opportunities.

Later Alex hooked up with L.A. Lawyer Gary Turnbull, a former Trontonian himself and patron of the arts. Gary ensured that Alex’s demo’ tapes continued to be financed. (These tapes would end up playing an important part in obtaining a record contract for Champion). It was at this time that Alex met Robin Rabbins, the former BOB SEGER AND THE SILVER BULLET BAND keyboardist who had just left the band after 7 years. Alex and Robin struck up a friendship and when Robin returned to his home base of Michigan, he called Alex some 6 months later and asked him to become the lead singer of his new band called CHAMPION. Alex decided he had had enough of L.A. and promptly hopped a plane to Michigan joining Robin and a line up consisting of John Duva, a lead guitarist and session player from California, David Rose, a Michigan born bass guitarist and Dean Campbell on drums.

While in Michigan, Alex met Mark Farner, lead vocalist of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (As an interesting note, on the first version s of CAN’T GO BACK featured on this CD, was recorded at Robin’s home studio and Mark Farner sings background to Alex’s lead).

The College scene was big at this time in Michigan and CHAMPION had no problem filling venues around the state for the next 7 months. Realizing it was time to record, Alex suggested to Robin that they make there way up to Canada where bands like LOVERBOY and BRIAN ADAMS were tapping the ever elusive American market like they never had before. Music in Canada, it seemed, was being taken seriously for the first time. In the spring of 1983, CHAMPION landed in Toronto. Shortly after landing, Dean Campbell, the drummer, left the band and was replaced by MOXY’S former drummer Bill Wade.

Trough Alex’s past connections in Toronto, CHAMPION obtained instant recognition and caught the eye of Ralf Jolivet, President of Platinum Artists, one of the booking agencies in Toronto at this time. Ralph heard Alex’s demo tapes from L.A. (remember those!) and began to shop them around to various record companies. In the meantime, Robin left the band for personal reasons and headed back to Michigan. Many record labels expressed interest in the tapes, but it was Solid Gold Records, a smaller label whose owners played an active “hands on role” in all their artists development, that was most sincere in their pursuit. Unfortunately Solid Gold was adamant that they would not sign the band only Alex. In November of 1983 Alex went ahead and signed a solo artist deal promising the remaining members of CHAMPION – Dave Rose and John Duva – he would see what he could do.

Intense pre-production of the album began almost immediately. Brian Allen, former lead guitarist and main songwriter of the band TORONTO (another Solid Gold act) was chosen to produce the album. (Brian, along with wife, Sharon Alton, and Jim Valance, penned the number1 hit for HEART entitled “What About Love”). Further writing for the album ensued, and Ashley Mulford, who had previous musical success with the band SAD CAFÉ and who had just completed an album with Bill Henderson’s CHILLIWACK (another Solid Gold Act), was brought on board with former CHAMPION guitarist John Duva to collaborate. Session musicians Mike Gingrich, Paul Hannah and former CHAMPION member David Rose (now with the popular Toronto threesome DAVID WILCOX) rounded out the rhythm section. Sharon Alton, also of TORONTO, helped with background vocals. The album was recorded at Eastern Sound in Toronto’s opulent Yorkville with Alex assisting in the production. On the date of the album’s release in September1984, Solid Gold Records slipped into receivership, and the Champion album and accompanying video for the hit single ”I’d Lie to You for Your Love” slid along with it.

Alex Machin is proud to present what he described in 1984 as “an offering of music which covers the rock spectrum and which was a pure pleasure to record”

 

– Champion [1984]

 

 

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