SPRING 1970 REHEARSAL AT THE GERMAIN FAMILY REC ROOM
1ST KNOWN PICTURE OF THE BAND
John Donnelly, Kevin Fyhn, Alex Chuaqui, Jeff Germain and their good friend Rocky Stewart gathered together in the Donnelly family rec room on an
ordinary winter day during Christmas break to start a band. Kevin at age eleven was the youngest, the others had reached the age of twelve years and all
five were in seventh grade at St.Matthews elementary school. None knew much about rock n' roll; except from the little they heard on local am radio. They
knew they liked it though.
They were all interested in music and were already enrolled in music lessons. Alex was learning the violin and guitar. John was a already a bagpipe star
and was also learning guitar. Kevin was already showing his 6 string prowess and was the first to get an electric guitar and amp. Jeff had been playing in
the Police Boys Band for a few years but his parents had not yet caved into the pressure to buy a drum set. All five of the boys were introduced to the fun
of a rock band by their school music teacher Ken Danylchuk. After hearing Kevin lead the class in a rousing version of Hey Jude, John, Jeff and Rocky
invited Kevin to join the new band that they were starting. Kevin insisted that his best friend Alex could sing and should be invited too. The first practice
was a tension filled affair with friends and family watching as the boys worked their way through songs by the Beatles, Bee Gees, and the Animals. More
practices followed and the guys became best friends quickly. Jeff got his much yearned for drum set and all the guys got electric guitars. Rocky eventually
dropped out of the group but remained a good friend to all the members of the band.
.By the summer the guys needed a name, as they were about to audition to play at the annual Pile of Bones Day festival in Wascana Park. They went
with a name suggested by John's Dad, The V.I.P.'s. They passed the audition and began putting together a set of crowd-pleasers like Wipe-Out and
House of the Rising Sun. Their performance was given rousing applause and the reviews were very kind. After that afternoon, playing for thousands of
people and having such a good time the group was intent on working toward stardom. Even if they were still in grade eight! Next, The VIP's entered the
Saskatchewan Homecoming 71 talent contest and were chosen to appear at the Regina Centre of the Arts to compete. It was a complete surprise to them
all that they won the trophy and prize money for 2nd place in the province. Only the The Lions Stage Band had placed higher. The trophy was proudly
exhibited at each boys house for one month at a turn. It is passed amongst them as a fun ritual to this day.
The VIPs were playing a lot of Beatles material and other British invasion groups. They practiced hard but found few gigs other than the odd local school
dance or band battles at the YMCA. Then they started listening to the heavier British groups. With all the British influence they wanted an image and name
that was like their new idols, like Cream and Deep Purple who didn't use " The" in their group names. Jeff came up with Cambridge. It was immediately
accepted and a new phase in the band's career began. Cambridge auditioned for the Nellis booking agency and to the band’s delight were quickly given
work playing small town dances all over Saskatchewan. It was great fun
for a group of boys that had just gotten their driving licences and were getting quite a good reception wherever they went.
Never ones to be content for long, the boys soon decided that they wanted to be booked by The Quicksilver Talent Agency. This was the agency that
booked the local heroes that the boys were in awe of: A Group Called Mudd, Eden, Wascana and Sunband. A phone call was made to Don Hergott the co-
owner of the Quicksilver. Don saw something special in the the band as unpolished as they were and after a memorable meeting at the Regina Inn coffee
shop, a deal was struck to book exclusively with Don and his brother Sam. The group soon took on a new more professional attitude and began to build
their show. A budding audiophile and rock fanatic named Mike Martin was eager to join the adventure and agreed to come on the road and do sound and
lights for the band. Mike was to become the fifth brother and an integral part of the band and as they strove for greater things.
Thus, began a period of rapid growth and advancement for the band. Under Don's wing the band began to become a polished act that could entertain and
impress the harshest rock critics. The band's writing matured quickly and they began to make demo recordings for the first time. Cambridge also got the
attention of Gary Stratychuk, manager of Wascana and local impresario. Gary booked the band to open for a little known band named Rush who were on
their first western Canada tour and stopping at the Trianon ballroom in Regina. Even though the Cambridge boys were only 16 and were playing mostly
cover material, Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat and the like, they wowed the crowd with their energy and received a glowing review from Leader-Post music
critic Gary Dealy who called the band "seasoned well beyond its years."
Meanwhile, Rush had completely blown the doors off the Trianon ballroom and needless to say Cambridge as well. Unbelievably to the young Cambridge
group, a quick friendship grew with the members of Rush and their crew who were unassuming and down to earth. On Rush's next tour of Saskatchewan
they asked if Cambridge would again be opening. They did get the spot and it was to be a very memorable tour as Cambridge really got to see what the
road could really be like at the next level up. There was to be no turning back after that. They liked what they saw.
The members of Rush were very open with the boys and gave them fateful advice about getting a good manager. They suggested that Gary Stratychuk
might be a good choice. Stratychuk had the same idea. He approached the band with his vision of taking the group to the top. After much agonizing the
guys decided to leave the Hergotts and sign an exclusive contract with Stratychuk's company StarKommand Productions.
The immediate goal was to get a record contract. First came a change of name. The group needed a name that was about them now that they were writing
their own songs. They wanted to get away from being identified with the British idea and say something about where they were from. During one road trip
Mike came up with the Queen City Kids and as the guys heard the name for the first time they realized that they had found the one. A great celebration
took place in the van as Cambridge became QCK.
Many demos and showcases for many labels had failed thus far to secure the Kids a credible record deal. It was at this point the band decided to take
matters into their own hands again and this time produce release an independent album. Gene Martynek producer of the successful Rough Trade album
agreed to produce for the band. However, when CBS records heard that Gene was interested in the project they quickly came on board and signed the
Kids to a multi album deal.
It was arranged for the first album to be recorded at Century 21 studios in Winnipeg. Most of the songs for the album had been performed and honed to a
sheen on the road so there was not much to do except go in and record them. It was a bit of an eye-opener though as the Kids discovered how different it
was to play in the studio. Now the emphasis was on technique, not just the raw energy that was the trademark of their live shows. But under the kind wing
of Gene the band put out a very interesting album with a lot of diverse sounds and styles. It was a little hard to categorize the band. But the fans didn’t
mind and they bought it up quickly in the markets that the band had played heavily. The album went to number one in Regina and Winnipeg. And very
quickly was certified gold.
The group was booked to tour with Ozzy Osbourne and played Maple Leaf Gardens. They received great response and had some fine reviews along the
way. By this time the touring was non-stop and the pace was dizzying. Back and forth across the country the band played tours with April Wine,
Streetheart, Joan Jett, Blue Oyster Cult. ,As well as many showcase dates of their own including a show at the legendary el Mocambo. On top of this they
were expected to be writing material for their next album which they were told was needed quickly as CBS records in the states had decided to pass on
releasing the debut. They (CBS) were anxious to hear more though and promised to help get the second one recorded and ready for the states.
A search was started to find a producer from the states that could help with getting a release down south. Rob Freeman, an engineer from New York who
had worked with the Go-Go’s on their smash debut album was found and agreed to take on the project. Rob’s vision was to try to better capture the live
essence of the band. His idea was to build a studio in an ambient room and mic the room for all its interesting echo effects and simulate the sound of arena
The Mitchell – Copp building on Portage avenue was an abandoned turn- of- the- century bank with huge ceilings and cavernous rooms. It was rented for
the month of January and recording equipment brought in to begin the 24 track recording. The weather was frigid and the equipment did not like the
transition from cozy studios to this new environment. But all adversities were overcome and the album was done on time and under budget.
Despite furious touring and extensive air-play for the songs Dance and Girls, Black Box - QCK's second album, did not reach gold status. Poor marketing
and management were beginning to dog the band and the amount of touring was wearing it down. They had now been together for 13 years and living in
each other’s pockets for much of that. The guys had little money personally and were tired of seeing all their hard earned wages go to their increasingly
On top of all this it was becoming very uncertain that their next album would get released at all by CBS who had released a very minimal number of Black
Box albums in the States and did almost no support of the project at all. It was decided that it was time to break up the band up and everyone go their
separate ways. No one would carry on as the Queen City Kids. Instead, John and Jeff formed a punk influenced band called Love Active with former Doris
Daze singer Kim Albright. Alex went out with a new project called Straw Dog. While Cal free-lanced with some Regina groups and later with Kenny Shields.
It would be a few years before the Kids again surfaced. As a way of helping Alex finance his wedding nuptials the group agreed to reform for one show and
throw Alex a social. It was a great success and buoyed by the event and the realization that they hadn’t been forgotten by their fans the group made a
point of performing a few reunion gigs each year.
In October 2007 QCK was inducted into the Western Canada Music Hall of Fame. The guys were honored by their peers and humbled by being included
with the likes of Streetheart, Loverboy and Harlequin, as well as cultural legend Buffy St. Marie. Now in their 46 th year of operation the Kids are still out
there rocking from time to time at special events and festivals. Watch this site for updates and news of gigs, recordings, and happenings. Who knows how
long the kids will be kids? They don’t seem to show any signs of wanting to grow up just yet.