As a countercultural scene developed in San Francisco the term Psychedelic Rock was used in 1966 to describe the new drug influenced music and the term was being widely used by 1967. In Oshawa, Canada the music scene was the same as anywhere else in the 60s’ with lots of kids trying to emulate their musical heroes. Lots of people doing British Invasion and American psychedelic and all the crossbreeding that came with that.
In 1968 six teenagers from Oshawa went into a basement recording studio owned by Bill Bessey and recorded an album. It was recorded in a day for a tiny label called Allied owned by Jack Boswell. The band and the album were called Reign Ghost. They were Bob Bryden, Lynda Squires, Dave Hare, Jim Stright, Jerry Dufek and Bob Stright. The combination of Bob’s baroque lyricism and Lynda’s beautifully trained soprano voice defined the Reign Ghost sound.
Allied had achieved moderate success issuing British and U.S. hits in the Canadian market, but little experience actually recording anyone, let alone a group of teenagers ranging from fifteen to eighteen channelling the energies of folk and acid rock. It was what we would now call an indie studio-basement record decades before there was the term indie. It's an absolute psychedelic classic with all the right ingredients, including fuzz guitar, swirling organ, male-female vocals, studio effects and some weird lyrics.
In late 1969, Reign Ghost went back to the basement and recorded their second album called Reign Ghost featuring Lynda Squires. The band consisted of Lynda Squires, Bob Bryden, Rich Richter, John Pudlis and Russ Erman. This time they included Lynda’s name as part of the album cover as she was now known as a cast member of the Toronto production of HAIR. This record included absolute psych classic Enola Gay. It is known as one of the rarest Canadian psychedelic albums ever produced. Just like the first Reign Ghost record, this too was recorded in one day.
1n 1970 Reign Ghost split up as now eighteen year old Lynda Squires was busy in HAIR which was a huge hit and very controversial of the times because of the nudity. So because Bob Bryden never stops when it comes to music he formed a new band called The Society for the Year Round Preservation of the Spirit of Christmas, or Christmas. Bob and Gary Squires, Lynda's brother, replaced Lynda on vocals with this new group. The 5 piece group recorded one album for Allied's Paragon label that year which has since become one of the most coveted vinyl albums by collectors with one selling for $4000 in 2019 and most others fetching in the $2500+ range.
In early 1970 while in HAIR Lynda had met Frank Davies, a young music executive who had come from England’s music scene to start Daffodil Records in Toronto in partnership with Ronnie Hawkins.
On August 20, 1970, after being introduced by Lynda, Christmas, now a four piece with Bob on vocals, auditioned for Frank Davies. The audition was at the Hawk’s Nest which was owned by Ronnie and was upstairs from the legendary Le Coq d’Or on Yonge Street. Lynda came that day to support her friends, Christmas signed a record deal with Daffodil Records, and Frank subsequently married Lynda.
The band Christmas morphed into different variations. The first album was called Christmas, and included Bob Bryden, Tyler Raizenne, Rich Richter, Robert Bulger, Wolfgang Hryciuk and Gary Squires. The second Christmas album the first for Daffodil Records was titled Heritage and was Bob Bryden, Tyler Raizenne, Rich Richter, Robert Bulger. A truly polished album, Heritage was widely reviewed, and was compared favourably to the music of Procol Harum. The third studio album under the name the Spirit of Christmas was Lies to Live By again released by Daffodil and had the same line-up as the second record but now included Preston Wynn taking over the lead vocals and co-writing. This final album is a mature work with new member Preston Wynn sharing vocals and guitar duties. The vision for this record darkens as Bryden’s song writing reflects the longer narrative forms of progressive rock, and conceptually presents a vision of post-apocalyptic despair, alienation and dehumanization.
Reign Ghost recorded two albums on Allied Records. Although no one from the label could ever say how many albums were produced or sold. Reign Ghosts’ vinyl albums have been selling on eBay over the past several years for well over $1500 U.S each. Retail price for the album was $2.49 in the late 60s. The second album was known to be purchased by a collector for $2000.
Christmas released three records. One on Allied Records Paragon label and two records on Daffodil. This band and it’s recordings have gone on to become a critics and cult favourite, a progressive group with a far larger following amongst avid record collectors some fifty years later than they had when playing together in the 60s’. All of the Reign Ghost and Christmas/Spirit albums were released in the U.S on CD in the 1990s. Both of these bands and their albums are now legendary.
In the late 70s’ Bob Bryden was introduced to new wave and punk by Mike Star of Star Records. He went to manage the Hamilton store and immersed himself in the punk scene. Bob Bryden produced two albums for the legendary punk band The Forgotten Rebels, This Ain’t Hollywood and In Love With The System.
Fourteen music loving teenagers followed their hearts and dreams and created five albums of psychedelic songs that music afficiadoes and collectors have deemed some of the very best music of the Psychedelic genre ever. It was recorded over fifty years ago and still to this day is being re-released and enjoyed by more than ever before. These Oshawa bands and their albums are now legendary.