Forty years of Forbes

Forty years ago, an 18 year old songwriter, with an unusual voice and the nickname “Bim,” left his hometown of Dawson Creek for the bright lights of Vancouver.

Now a legendary Canadian singer, songwriter, soundtrack composer, producer and radio host, Roy Forbes is celebrating his 40 years in the business with a concert on Saturday, April 9 at 8 p.m. in the Harrison Memorial Hall.

In July of 1971, 18 year old Roy Forbes left his home in Northern B.C. for a music career in the city. Playing in coffee houses to start, Roy became an opening act for a wildly diverse range  of performers from John Lee Hooker to Supertramp, and from Santana to Earl Scruggs.  By the end of 1971 Forbes had made headlines in the Vancouver newspapers opening for Rita Coolidge at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. His first album Kid Full of Dreams came out in 1976, featuring the signature song You Can’t Catch Me.  His next record was Raincheck on Misery, with another great song in Tender Lullaby.

Casino Records, who had signed Forbes, folded and he got a deal with US giant Electra Records and released the album Thistles. Forbes was now the headliner with a major U.S. label deal and selling-out his own shows. The U.S. label was more interested in remixing his older material than promoting him, and Roy returned to Canada where he worked closely with Connie Kaldor throughout the 1980s. During this time, he matured as an artist and songwriter and eventually shed the “Bim” nickname.

Since those early days, Forbes has toured extensively, won many awards and his songs have been covered by Sylvia Tyson, Valdy, Connie Kaldor and many others. In the late 1980s, he began to branch out from just touring and began producing albums for other artists.  By the 1990s, Forbes was writing music for movie and documentary soundtracks. Over the last decade, he hosted radio shows on CBC Radio and CKUA.

Despite all this activity, Forbes still performs solo shows and records his music.  His last album was a tribute to his mother and the music he grew up with called Some Tunes For That Mother Of Mine.  He also tours with his “once-in-a-while” group UHF with Shari Ulrich and Bill Henderson and occasionally joins Henderson touring with the rock band Chilliwack.  Forbes has also gotten involved with the Songwriters Association of Canada, and has taught at songwriting workshops.  He received an honourary arts degree from Northern Lights College and Dawson Creek named a street in his honour – Roy Forbes Drive.

Tickets for this show are $22 and are available by phone at 604-796-3664, online at www.harrisonfestival.com or in person at Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.