The first Canadian Music awards were presented in Toronto on February 23rd., 1970. The simple ceremony was held at the St. Lawrence Hall across from the St. Lawrence Market. Approximately 250 people attended that first awards ceremony ...
Stan Klees, who had started the Red Leaf record label in 1965 (original label home to The Paupers and The British Modbeats) and Walt Grealis, founder of RPM Weekly in 1964, are credited with coming up with the first "formal awards ceremony" for Canada's music industry. This tied in with the formation of the CRTC in Ottawa in 1968, initially headed by Pierre Juneau, and the push by the Government of Canada to promote "Canadian Content" .. now lovingly called "CANCON". Radio stations in Canada were regulated to play a certain percentage of Canadian records. These efforts were designed to promote Canadian culture in the wake of the dominance of the non-Canadian artists on our radio airwaves ... sorry Elvis ! The 1970 awards ceremony was a simple affair and the awards were called Gold Leaf Awards. RPM Weekly held a contest to rename the awards .. and initially they were then called "Juneaus" after the CRTC pioneer. In 1971 the annual awards were renamed to Juno. The CBC would broadcast the first JUNO awards show in 1975.
From humble beginnings ... well, RPM Weekly began publication from their office at 420 Merton Street, Toronto in February 1964 in the belief that there was a Canadian music industry and that it needed to be promoted
In the first "glossy" issue, the weekly chart for October 5th., 1964 looked like this:
.. and you can see from this chart that there were just a few truly Canadian artists in the charts. They included Gale Garnett (via New Zealand !) , Bobby Curtola, and Terry Black. These Canadian artists were competing with the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Motown ... and such newcomers as the Kinks and Manfred Mann.
The first few issues of RPM were heavily supported by advertising from Capitol Records Of Canada as is seen by the following advert from page 6 of that very first issue.
Following the establishment of RPM in 1964 ... would come the likes of Ann Murray, Edward Bear, Rush, Robert Charlebois, The Stampeders, Bruce Cockburn, Gord Lighftoot, Andy Kim, The Tragically Hip, K.D. Lang, Celine Dion, etc. etc. etc. Without the early efforts of RPM , the CRTC, and of others in the Canadian music industry ... it is doubtful that we would be celebrating 40 years of the Juno Awards.
We salute the early pioneers of the Canadian Music Industry and the JUNO Awards !
For more information on RPM Weekly, here is the best link:
Lastly, here is a small playlist of early Canadian singles that represent some of the very best releases that were ever promoted within RPM Weekly:
1965 The Guess Who
"Shakin' All Over / Tossin' And Turnin' " Quality 1691X
1966 The Haunted
"1-2-5" / "Eight O'Clock In The Morning" Quality 1814X
1966 The Ugly Ducklings
"Nothin / I Can Tell" York Town 45001
1967 The Staccatos
"Lets Run Away / Face To Face" Capitol 72395
1967 Lords Of London
"Cornflakes And Ice Cream / Time Waits For No One" Apex 77054
1968 MRQ (Modern Rock Quartet)
"Games / Plastic Street" RCA Victor 1002
.. and then one great LP :
1969 Kensington Market
"Aardvark" Warner Brothers WS-1790
These pioneering Canadian recordings from the 1960s are all well worth checking out if you have not heard them before.