Bobby Faulds would probably have loved his comeback gig at CFB Esquimalt this Saturday.
Although he’ll only be there in spirit — the Edinburgh-born entertainer died Oct. 10 in Australia at age 73 — his final “show” will celebrate the wit, style and music that made him famous.
Family and friends will gather at the Chief and Petty Officers Club from 1 to 6 p.m. for a celebration of Faulds’s life.
“He was larger than life — very talented, with a great voice and funny as hell,” said Barry Casson, former drummer for Bobby Faulds and the Strangers, the Victoria rock band that was inducted into the Victoria Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Faulds immigrated to Canada in 1952. His family first settled in the Prairies before moving to Victoria, where Faulds became a fixture on the music scene in the 1960s and 1970s.
After changing his name to Bobby Hanna, the former Oaklands Elementary School student established a lucrative career as a singer, songwriter, actor and TV personality.
Faulds formed his first local band, the Wayward Trio, with his brother-in-law, Bill Hodgson, and Jimmy Moody, performing at the original Club Tango, later renamed the Scope, and the Pink Panther, then the Purple Onion.
He later hired Doug Edwards, now with Chilliwack, to play rhythm guitar, Terry Budd as drummer, Brian Newcombe on bass, singer Alex Stewart and guitarist Lenny Siemens.
“If you were a musician in the ’60s you would definitely know Bobby,” Casson said, recalling the handsome frontman referred to locally as Fauldsy and the Kid.
One of the biggest thrills for the members of Faulds’ rock band the Strangers, Casson recalled, was winning a battle of the bands competition in the 1960s at Mayfair mall. The prize was an RCA Victor recording contract for a single that featured Faulds’ song Walking Away and When My Baby Says Goodbye, written by saxophonist Wes Chambers, on the flipside.
“It was a big feather in our cap having a 45,” recalled Casson, whose bandmates in the Strangers included Chambers, Edwards, Newcombe and trumpeter/trombonist Bill Stewart.
“We had a pretty hot sound and this was when the Beatles and the whole British invasion thing was happening.”
Having “exhausted our possibilities in B.C., we had to get out to be recognized,” Faulds once said during a radio interview on Royal City Music Project, the archival site curated by Glenn Parfitt.
Faulds was recalling the genesis of the Canadian Strangers, the band he formed for himself and his collaborators overseas after Edwards and Newcombe bowed out.
That’s when David Foster, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer, then a hot young pianist struggling to make ends meet, joined the band that would help launch his career.
“David was a genius then, even when he was 17 years old,” Faulds wrote.
Before long, Faulds, Casson, Foster, saxophonists Chambers and Rich England, bassist Mike Stymes and trumpeter/trombonist Bill Stewart were London-bound.
They stayed with their bandleader’s relatives in Kettering, Northamptonshire, said Casson, recalling gigs in Europe backing up artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and the Drifters.
“Our agent, Roy Tempest, was bad news for us. He worked us too hard,” Faulds once recalled.
It’s an observation Casson can now laugh about in retrospect as he recalls their British adventures.
“Roy knew his business, but, oh yeah, he worked us to death on the road.”
Chambers, England and Stewart, all married at the time, returned home earlier than the rest of the band for practical reasons, Casson said.
“When [the horn players] all left England we had lost our sound we were striving for,” Faulds lamented in an interview. “But we had a lot of fun.”
The Canadian Strangers played clubs including the Cavern in Liverpool and an unforgettable concert at London’s Saville Theatre, owned by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, during the mods versus rockers era.
After the Canadian Strangers disbanded, Faulds became a Decca recording artist as Bobby Hanna, and won the Spanish International Song Festival with his version of Written on the Wind in 1968.
He found success singing at London hotspots such as the Astor Club, Churchill’s and the Latin Quarter, and as resident vocalist at Talk of the Town in the early 1970s. He did two command performances for the Queen, recorded on the Philips label, climbed the European charts, appeared on the BBC’s Top of the Pops TV show and sang the theme song for the Raquel Welch western Hannie Caulder.
In October 1972, Faulds married Pauline Stasinowsky, described as “a bewitching brunette” by the Victoria Daily Times, in her hometown of Perth, Australia.
His successes Down Under included making guest appearances on TV shows with entertainers such as Rolf Harris and hosting his own show, Blind Date.
Friends say Faulds never forgot his Victoria upbringing. He even returned in 1972 to do a two-week floor show at the Red Lion Motor Hotel Cabaret before embarking on a tour Down Under.
Faulds, whose first gig was singing You Are My Special Angel at a Royal Canadian Air Force base in Moose Jaw, Sask., when he was 13, fitted in another local club date in 1972, at CFB Esquimalt.
“This is all he lived for until his children and grandchildren came along,” said Faulds’ sister Margaret, who with her husband Bill and Jimmy Moody will sing Sh-Boom (Life Could be a Dream) and Down by the Riverside.
Original members of the Strangers, including Edwards, Newcombe, Casson and Stewart, flying in from Scotland, will jam and sing songs in Faulds’ honour, she said.
His World of Bobby Hanna LP will play as friends, family and former musical collaborators arrive to pay tribute to Faulds, who also once sang with Ed Attfield’s first big Victoria rock band, the Pharaohs.
“They brought Bobby in because they needed a glamour guy up front,” Parfitt said.
“The girls just loved Bobby.”