You really can go home again, picking up right where you left off even after a 25-year hiatus.
Just ask Ed Miller.
A long-time member of Major Hoople’s Boarding House, a group with roots that go back to the 1960s, Miller headed out west when the band broke up in the early ’80s. In 2010, back in Kitchener, he met up again with some of his bandmates: a reunion seemed like just the thing.
“At that first rehearsal after 25 years, everything fell into place – it came together fairly quickly,” Miller said this week in advance of Sunday afternoon’s concert the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill. “After the first song, we were all together and I thought ‘Oh my god, this doesn’t sound too bad after 25 years.’”It sounded so good, in fact, that the band began writing new music, recording a single and working on a new album due to be released in February or March.
Today, Miller is enjoying the music as much as he ever did back in the heyday. Not, of course, that it’s been a smooth ride.
Major Hoople’s Boarding House began circa 1967 in Cambridge the Shan-de-leers, featuring Rocky Howell, Peter Padalino, Gail Selkirk, Dave Lodge and Rick Riddell. This group recorded the singles “Lady” and “Face on the Wind” for the Polydor label.
In the early 1970s, Peter (Moss) Beacock – originally from Gaslight – replaced Selkirk on keyboards, and Miller replaced Riddell on drums.
In 1975, the band was signed to Axe Records. Founding member Dave Lodge then left the band, moving into the songwriting/production/management side of the business, and he was replaced by vocalist/bassist Keith (Chippy) Stahlbaum. Padalino left the band just as they released their first and biggest hit in August 1975, “I’m Running After You,” which reached number 16 on Canada’s top record chart and is still played on many Top 40 and oldies stations to this day.
As the single climbed the charts, they added David Gregg (trombone) and David Gooding (saxophone/flute) and lost no time in capitalizing on their new radio success with a cross-country tour and a second hit single “You Girl.” This was followed by “Got You on my Mind” and “Someone.” These songs were all included on The Hooples Album.
The classic ’70s lineup of Howell, Stahlbaum, Beacock, Gooding and Miller travelled the country throughout the decade.
The group changed its lineup again with the loss of Rocky Howell, and the addition of James Leroy (formerly of James Leroy & Denim) and the departure of Gregg and Gooding (who joined the Lulu’s Roadhouse Band).
In 1985 after the release of the ‘New Adventures Of Hooples’ album, the group made the Top 10 on the Adult Contemporary charts in Canada with the song “Late Night Invitation” on the Major Records label.
By the mid-‘80s, however, all that touring was taking its toll, said Miller.
“We’d been on the road forever and ever. It just got to be too much. … But it was a friendly parting of the ways,” he said of the decision to break up the band.
For the next couple of decades, those involved with Major Hoople’s Boarding House (the name comes for a comic strip that began in the 1920s) continued to play music in a variety of capacities, eventually drifting back to their roots. In 2008, a new band, under the name The Fossilz, was formed featuring original Hooples members Beacock and Keith Stahlbaum, as well as former Gaslight lead guitarist Brian Tozer, former Trollie/Beothuck drummer John Rankin, and former Eddie & The Edsels drummer/vocalist Ron Duke.
In 2010, Gooding and Miller returned, prompting the band to go back to the name Major Hooples. They were joined by Stahlbaum’s brother Brad on keyboards. Today’s band includes Keith and Brad Stahlbaum, Brian Tozer, Dave Gooding and Ed Miller.
When they take the stage at the Commercial Tavern tomorrow (Sunday), they’ll be featuring the classic songs of the band’s heyday, but they’re not just reliving the past, so there’ll be new Hooples music on tap, said Miller.
Major Hoople’s Boarding House performs at the Commercial Tavern Sunday (December 2) at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit www.commercialtavern.ca.