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Vancouver Island band Big Rock releases album nearly decade after singer dies

“After all this time” features voice of lead singer Hugh McGregor, who passed away in 2014

Four decades after splitting up, the band is back together.

That’s the case with Campbell River based Big Rock, who reformed to create an album entitled ‘After All this Time’. It is a commemorative project in honour of their front man, Hugh McGregor, who passed away in his sleep back in 2014.

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The band was formed in the early 1980s.

“It was a great time,” said bassist Dave Davendisch about growing up in Campbell River. He currently resides in Comox. “We were all listening to bands like Rush and Saga. When Hugh came along, he exposed us to band we’d never heard of. Progressive bands like King Crimson and Bob Marley and this sound we’d never heard before. We were just like ‘wow!’”

Big Rock travelled from the Rivercity to Vancouver in 1984, just after their high school graduation. Davendisch says it was there they recorded a demo tape in 1985. With high expectations, it seemed that musical stardom was within their grasp.

“We had toured around Campbell River and had a bunch of original songs we had done,” Davendisch recalls. “Those guys had moved to Vancouver a little bit before I had. We were ready to take on Vancouver when I got there.”

Unfortunately, Davendisch says music execs didn’t agree. After being sent up to Northern Alberta for what he describes as a ‘long time,’ the band went their separate ways. Music certainly was still at the forefront though: drummer Clayton Hill went on to become the drummer in the rock band Trooper, guitarist Steve Hillis toured, and Davendisch went on to tour with bands who opened for musicians such as Kid Rock, currently playing with a duo called Easy Street .

“The thing is when that music bug is in your system it never leaves you,” said Davendisch. “I toured with Kid Rock. I played in stadiums.”

It’s interesting that, in a way, Davendisch’s musical career has come full circle. Using the old 1985 demo tape and modern recording technology, Big Rock was able to re-form and edit the vocals to re-record what would become After All this time. Proceeds for the album will go toward Lookout Society’s Russell Housing Centre, a low income area in New Westminster where McGregor was living.

“The tape just kind of laid dormant,” said Davendisch. “It got shuffled around, drinks spilled on it. I had recorded so much since then, I have a recording studio in Comox. Clayton said to me one day ‘we should re-record the Big Rock stuff,’ and I said ‘that’s a great idea.’ The challenge was to only rip Hugh’s vocals and nothing else. To put them on time with the music we were playing. You had to time stretch it, then compress it so it goes with the music.”

Not only is the album available on Apple music, but they are planning a physical copy as well. It will be made available on Easy Street Duo’s website.

“It looks like an old cassette,” said Davendisch. “But it has a USB key on it. You put the key into a computer and there’s pictures and stuff. We understand that people nowadays don’t have CDs anymore, and we wanted people to have a physical copy. So it’s a very limited edition.”

Edward Hitchins

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