Whatever Became of … Edward Bear?

In 1995, at the annual awards night for the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, a slightly graying but fit-looking music publisher received a special award to acknowledge the air play of three songs — Close Your Eyes, Last Song and You Me and Mexico. The recipient was Larry Evoy. The recordings (now nearly 25 years old) were those of his former pop band, Edward Bear. The award recognized the tunes had each been aired on radio more than 100,000 times.

“It’s wonderful to know our songs still have this life so many years after they were recorded,” glows Evoy, who started the band in 1966 with architect (sometimes keyboard player) Paul Weldon. Soon after, they were joined by guitarist Danny Marks, whose blues roots, together with Larry’s pop interests and Paulls jazz background, seemed the perfect combination.

Edward Bear (the name literally taken from the first lines of A. A. Milne’s book Winnie-the-Pooh) began playing birthdays, high schools, hotels and bars, and was the house band at the Night Owl coffee house in Toronto’s Yorkville scene, “but we were only discovered and got a music contract with Capital,” says Evoy, “beuse (producer) Paul White accidentally saw us on a CBC television show… Right place, right time, I guess.” Or, in music commentator Ritchie Yorke’ s words “the band hit the magic circle of acceptance.”

Twelve years, thousands of road trip miles, four albums and at least four hit singles later, Edward Bear packed it in.

“By the mid-70s,11 admits Weldon, “I was in my mid-30s. My wife and I were expecting our f irst child, and I had an architectural career to tend to.”

Today, he’s part owner of Stanford Design (a graphic art design and printing firm in Toronto) with corporate clientele that includes Cineplex Odeon, Nesbitt Burns and BMG Records. And just to keep his hand in music, “Saturday nights I play piano in a band called the Jazz Extension.” Even when he left Edward Bear, Danny Marks never stopped playing and learning about music. “The real danger of being so big so young, was that it seemed too easy. I played every strip joint on Yonge street, and learned from the ground up. I played in all kinds of bands I did road shows for Datsun (cars) … I even did rock ‘n roll revival stuff and became the king of chicken wing bars,” till a CBC producer, David Malahof f put him on the air doing cover tunes a . nd regular spots on Basic Black and The Hum Line, a monthly radio show, during which Marks and co-hosts Arthur Black and Sheilagh Rogers try to solve musical mysteries based on partial melody lines or lyrics sent in by listeners. Last month, Marks, Cabbagetunes label released a labor of love — a recording called Guitarchaeology — a CD of his guitar playing “without the wawa pedals, without the fuzz-tones. . . just the pure tone and clean sound of electric guitar.”

Meanwhile, originator of Edward Bear Larry Evoy, has left the playing of music behind. Today, he and his wife run a horse farm, and a music publishing business whose sole activity is “managing the copyright and re-packaging of Edward Bear songs …

“It’s catering to the baby-boom bulge in the States, where all these oldie goldie stations keep playing our songs. It’s almost a full-time occupation, feeding the apparently insatiable market for Edward Bear material.” A quarter century after the fact.