1946 (Greenock, Scotland) ~ 2018 (Niagara Falls, Canada) Rest In Peace
My dear friend, the former lead singer of The British Modbeats and, The Village S.T.O.P. has passed away. Fraser Loveman was truly one of a kind and, God, whoever she is, discarded the mold when he was created. What he did as an extremely flamboyant performer in the 60’s and, 70’s took some real courage. First of all, in 1965, he must have had the longest hair of any man in the province of Ontario, Canada. In those days, propogating such a look meant that, when you walked down the street you were completely opening yourself up to derision from the general public. Nothing could phase Fraser. The hippie scene was just starting in Toronto’s Yorkville Village, but, for a guy coming out of St. Catharine’s, the get-ups that he wore onstage were truly outrageous and, involved a vision that was often ahead of any of his contemporaries at that time. If you go to my FUN page, you will see a feature that I did on the Mobeats circa 2010, when they were involved with some reunion shows, and, that piece shows some vintage 1960’s black & white publicity shots that exhibit some of these highly original costumes.
Click here to go directly to Modbeats FUN Page feature.
Besides an inordinate amount of time spent studying 45rpm records and, rehearsing his singing via those records , Fraser had to spend a fair bit of time sewing these one of a kind, self invented fashions ! As a self taught artist in more ways than one, thousands of aural and, visual influences were dissected and, lovingly absorbed by the time he was 20 and, was becoming a known performer. Curtains that had been deaccessioned by some of the British Modbeats mommies were turned into giant bell bottomed trousers and, vests for himself and, his bandmates. Pre- Janis Joplin, perhaps influenced by British pop songstress Sandie Shaw, Fraser/Modbeats began a habit of performing in bare feet. At their mid 60’s gigs at Ontario teen dances at fairgrounds, community halls and, hockey arenas, their unexpected visual appearance and, garage band sound caused a furor that delighted the youngsters and, worried the older folks. Fraser’s well rounded vocal sound took some of the edge off of the raw vibe of the group. It was a highly original, exciting mix. Fraser’s affable dad managed his son’s new fangled singing group, The British Modbeats, who at one point, travelled all the way to New York City to perform with poppa in tow to supervise the tour.
Because of his British roots (his family had moved to Canada in 1953) , Fraser travelled back to Britain in those days of “Swinging London” and, besides his already extensive knowledge of the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll, he was, he was now hip to what was going on in the new music that was then emanating from England. Of course all of the new, 1960’s English popsters were influenced by the American 1950’s music that Fraser Loveman already knew so well. Relatives in Scotland also sent the latest UK records to him and, the record collection that Fraser’s older sister, Mae Loveman had started him on when he was a pre-teen was by then growing out of control.
Since the band did not write songs, Fraser pulled in things that he’d heard from both sides of the big pond . As a result, by the time it was released in 1967, the “Mod Is … The British Modbeats” LP incorporated sounds from the many disparate musicians that Fraser was influenced by at the time ~ Doris Troy, Cilla Black, Lulu, The Merseys, Manfred Mann, Spencer Davis Group, The Pretty Things, The Merseys, The McCoys, Chris Kenner, Cannibal And The Headhunters, Wilson Pickett had all frequented his personal turntable and, the band covered them. About 10,000 of “Mod Is …” were pressed. Today, collectors will pay $ 750 or more for a mint copy of that British Modbeats album.
While people like Ruth Brown and, Howlin’ Wolf had kickstarted the motor that drove Fraser musically and, remained lifelong favourites, Fraser always stayed up to date. Following the Mod period, during the Village S.T.O.P. era, psychedelic groups and, the San Francisco sound became an influence, and, the lone S.T.O.P. 45rpm single from 1969, “North Country” b/w “Vibration”, shows the influence of late 60’s groups like Big Brother And The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Cream and, Blue Cheer. Fraser’s warm vocal sound and, Paul Marcoux’s soaring lead guitar work remain impressive to this day, even if the recording was made under less than ideal circumstances (“in some guy’s basement in Hamilton”, according to Fraser). A thousand copies were pressed of a record that may someday be worth a thousand dollars in the collectible world. It can currently fetch $ 500. To me, it is simply a psych masterpiece. It’s a legendary ‘cult’ item of the first degree in terms of Canadian music recordings.
Speaking of rare records, rarely have more been seen than what I saw in Fraser’s collection of 45s. I used to go into radio stations to do on-air interviews when I was an active performer and, I have scarcely seen more 45s at any radio station. His collection was crazy good fun. The history of pop music, particularily Rock ‘n’ Roll was pretty much all carefully archived there. To sit entranced at Fraser’s apartment on a Friday or Saturday night was much more fun than going out someplace with him for the night. Fraser loved to hold court and, expound on the history of the music. Maybe I myself already knew a lot about what he was preaching but, his opinions were always fascinating and, amusing and, his knowledge of records often went well beyond my own. Ask for an obscure song and, he had a copy of it (or three) ! I shall treasure those times with Fraser, lovingly, forever.
I was just a kid when I first saw Fraser from up close performing with the Village S.T.O.P. He had a great charisma. He came on stage forthrightly with a pleasant manner about him and, an utter confidence about him and, you knew that something cool and, fun was about to happen. I learned a few things about stage presence that night that I carried with me throughout my own little singing career. So, thanks for that, Fraser.
In one of his personal letters to me (1983) where he was commenting on his performing career with the Modbeats, Fraser simply said “we made people happy”. In my own opinion, that’s the job that a good entertainer always tries to do. When you can see that some of the people in your audience have forgetten their daily problems for a little while, you’ve done your job! Fraser always tried to do that job as an entertainer. He strived to make the people happy and, that should be his epitaph.
John Mars spring 2018
Click here to read a 2 part interview with Fraser Loveman by John Mars ~ “The Fraser Loveman Story” Blitz Magazine # 45 (March/April 1983) and, Blitz Magazine # 46 (May/June 1983). Plus an amusing hand written personal note from Fraser Loveman to John Mars.
Click here to see Paul Marcoux’s history of the Village S.T.O.P. citizenfreak.com/artists/104891-village-s-t-o-p