The Five Man Electrical Band was a rock group from Canada's capital city of Ottawa, best known for their 1971 hit "Signs". The group consisted of Les Emmerson, Brian Rading, Ted Gerow, Mike Belanger and Rick Belanger. Originally recording and touring as The Staccatos, they chose the title of their second album (1969) as the new name for the band. In 1969, the band recorded "Moonshine (Friend of Mine)" for an unsuccessful movie The Moonshine War starring Alan Alda. "Signs" was originally released in 1970 as the B-side to the unsuccessful single "Hello Melinda Goodbye".
The group consisted of Les Emmerson, Brian Rading, Ted Gerow, Mike Belanger and Rick Belanger. Originally recording and touring as The Staccatos, they chose the title of their second album (1969) as the new name for the band.
In 1969, the band recorded "Moonshine (Friend of Mine)" for an unsuccessful movie The Moonshine War starring Alan Alda. "Signs" was originally released in 1970 as the B-side to the unsuccessful single "Hello Melinda Goodbye". Re-released in 1971 on the A-side, "Signs" reached number 3 on the Billboard charts. Their second single, "Absolutely Right", reached number 26. Other Canadian hits included "Moneyback Guarantee" and "I'm A Stranger Here".
The group disbanded in 1975 to pursue solo careers. Since 1986, they have continued to reunite for several concerts a year.
This group was known for its strong harmonic vocals?all five members could sing lead vocals?its solid rhythm and classic rock keyboards/guitar sound.
The band would inspire the group Tesla to record a live album in 1990, Five Man Acoustical Jam, which included a cover of "Signs".
Ted Gerow (keyboards) Brian Rading (bass) Rick 'Bell' Belanger (drums) Les Emmerson (vocals, guitar) Mike 'Bell' Belanger (2nd drums)
The Staccatos had emerged from the Ottawa scene in the mid-'60's with financial backing from journalist Sandy Gardiner. He helped launch their first release to gain any prominence called "Moved To California". They began to receive more notice with gigs in Toronto's Yorkville Village after the release of "Half Past Midnight" (1967) which became a national hit.
Around this time they hooked up with Coca-Cola Company to share half an LP recorded at Hallmark Studios with The Guess Who called 'A Wild Pair' on Jack Richardson's Nimbus 9 Records. The album was a big seller prompting the band's U.S. label to release "Half Past Midnight" along with a commitment to record new material in L.A. Though they received a lot of hype in California from the record label, the group was seen as being 'too Beach Boy sounding' and The Staccatos records failed.
Taking a cue from their own 1968 2nd album, they soon changed their name to The Five Man Electrical Band in 1969 and commuted back and forth to Los Angeles recording sides for Capitol Records. The first single from this batch was "It Never Rains On Maple Lane".
When their deal with Capitol ended they signed to MGM Records who released "Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)" from the movie 'Moonshine War'. The record did little as did its follow-up "Hello Melinda Goodbye" which featured a b-side called "Signs" which garnered some interest on LA radio. MGM flipped the record over and re-issued it but nothing happened.
In 1971 Five Man Electrical band signed with a little label owned by writer Jimmy Webb and producer Dallas Smith called Lion Records. They re-issued "Signs" from the band's first full album Goodbyes & Butterflies (shortly after changing some cover art) and the single went to No.3 in the U.S. and No.4 in Canada selling more than 2 million copies worldwide.
Later in 1971 they released "Absolutely Right" which went to No.3 in Canada and Top-20 in the U.S. By 1973 they were exhausted and called it quits, though Emmerson continued recording as Five Man Electrical Band until 1975. After this, he remained in California and started a faltering label called Perfect Records. Following this he returned to Ottawa, resumed a solo career (with a brief stint in The Cooper Brothers).