Five Man Electrical Band

Formed in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1969, The Five Man Electrical Band is a rock band best known for their 1971 hit single “Signs”. The beginnings of the band date back to 1963 when Dean Hagopian (vocals), Vern Craig (guitar), Brian Rading (bass) and Rick Bell (drums) came together as the Staccatos. The following year, Hagopian left the group and was replaced by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Les Emmerson. After releasing an independent single, they signed to Capitol Records and released the Top 20 hit “Small Town Girl”. The band released their debut album, Initially, in 1966 and followed that up with another hit single, “Half Past Midnight”, before the hits started drying up. Looking for a change in direction – and after a line-up change – the group changed their name to Five Man Electrical Band and released their self-titled debut album in 1969. They released the single “It Never Rains on Maple Lane”, which was a minor hit but then the B-side “Private Train” took off and became a Canadian Top 40 hit. In 1970, they released their second album, Good-byes and Butterflies, which featured the track “Signs”, which became an international hit single the following year. Two more albums followed – Coming of Age (1972) and Sweet Paradise (1973) – but the band lost momentum and focus amidst line-up changes and Five Man Electrical Band ended up splitting in 1975. Various forms of the group reunited over the years, but never on a permanent basis. Original bassist Brian Rading died of cancer on June 8, 2016. On December 10, 2022, Les Emmerson, the band’s main songwriter, died of COVID-19 at the age of 77.

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