Canada has produced some of the greatest selling musical performers in history. Regular pop acts such as Celine Dion have sold album after album and she is ranked in the top10 selling artists of all time. However the country has also produced many great rock acts and the man who set the ball rolling was Neil Young. He started his career by moving to Los Angeles joining Buffalo Springfield. He then went on to join Crosby, Stills and Nash. During his solo career he was often in conflict with his record company as he loved to experiment with his records. He could play the guitar and the piano and he loved to fuse the different styles of folk country and rock together.
At the time when Young came on to the music scene so too did Joni Mitchell. One of the greatest songwriters ever, her songs have dealt with social and environmental issues. Born in Fort MacLeod, Alberta she spent her early career touring Canada before moving to the States in 1965. Settling in Southern California her 1971 album “Blue” is regarded by the New York Times as one of the 25 albums representing “turning points and pinnacles in 20th century popular music”. She continued to make albums mixing rock with country and jazz, and has been a long time fierce critic of the music industry.
Bryan Adams came into prominence in the early 1980s with the release of the albums “Cuts like a Knife” and “Run to You”. Born in 1959 in Kingston, Ontario much of his childhood was following his father’s army postings around the world. In 1976 he appeared as the lead singer for “Sweeney Todd” but left the group after a year. He then followed his sole career in which he and Jim Vallance wrote the majority of the songs together. The 1980s was when his career went from strength to strength with hit albums and sell out tours.
In 1991 he released the single “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” which featured in the film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”. The song spent 16 weeks at number 1 in the UK charts, and won a Grammy Award for the best song written for a film. He has sold over 75 million records in his career that is still continuing today. One of the most influential hard rock bands to emerge in the 1970s were Rush. The original line up all hailed from the neighborhood of Willowdale in Toronto and they started playing a combination of Blues and hard rock.
The group found commercial success difficult to find until they released their 1980 album “Permanent Waves”. On the album the sound appeared to be influenced by new wave and two singles, “spirit of radio” and “freewill’, achieved success and pushed the album into the top 5 in the US charts. Success continued in 1981 with the release of the album “Moving Pictures”. The band have continued to release records and tour, and were even playing together in 2016. In 2013 the band were inducted into the Rock and roll hall of Fame having being nominated for 7 Grammy Awards during their long career.
One of the more recent Canadian bands to have made an impression the music scene have been Nickelback. Formed in Hanna, Alberta in 1995 the group have already sold more than 50 million albums world-wide and in the decade of the 2000’s only the Beatles, as a foreign band, sold more albums than them in the US. Their single “How You Remind Me” was the highest selling rock single of the decade. Canada has proved to be a productive breeding ground for influential rock musicians.