3's a Crowd (band)
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3's a Crowd was a folk rock band originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that existed from 1964 to 1969, spending most of that time in Toronto and Los Angeles. The group had some moderate Canadian chart success, but is particularly notable for the wide range of Canadian musicians who passed through its ranks and would later establish successful music industry careers of their own, including Bruce Cockburn, Colleen Peterson, David Wiffen, Trevor Veitch, and Brent Titcomb. 3's A Crowd is also remembered for its association with Cass Elliott, who co-produced the group's sole album release.
3's a Crowd
|Also known as||Bill Schwartz Quartet|
|Origin||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Associated acts||Cass Elliott|
The group was formed in 1964, and was originally called the Bill Schwartz Quartet (though no one named Bill Schwartz was actually in the group.) The group initially consisted of Donna Warner, Trevor Veitch and Brent Titcomb. In 1966, the group moved to Toronto, released two singles, and acquired new members Richard Patterson, David Wiffen and Comrie Smith. Smith was later replaced by Ken Koblun. In 1967 and 1968, 3's a Crowd played folk music clubs across Canada, and also in Southern California, including the Ash Grove in West Hollywood and the Ice House in Glendale, sometimes bringing Jim and Jean as an opening act.
They were spotted performing at the Riverboat (Toronto, Ontario) by one of the entertainment co-ordinators for the Ontario Pavilion at the Expo '67 world's fair (held in Montreal, Quebec in 1967) and were subsequently hired for a gig at the Pavilion in late August and early September. In mid-September they went to Bell Studios in New York where they recorded three songs with producer Rick Shorter.
In 1968, they recorded their only album, Christopher's Movie Matinée, produced by Cass Elliot and Steve Barri. Bruce Cockburn, who took part in a later version of the group, does not perform on the album, though three of his songs are included. Fellow Canadian folkie/rocker/musician Murray McLauchlan also contributed one song, "Coat Of Colors", his first recorded songwriting credit. The song was issued as the b-side of the band's minor hit, "Bird Without Wings" (written by Cockburn). Donna Warner was the primary singer, but David Wiffen and Brent Titcomb also sang lead. They did a slow, military rendition of "(Let's) Get Together" by Chet Powers, and had a minor hit with "Bird Without Wings".
A related documentary, Christopher's Movie Matinée, under the sponsorship of the National Film Board of Canada, was released in 1968, using some of the same songs. The film is about 1960s Canadian counterculture.
In early 1969, David Wiffen and Richard Patterson revived the name for use on a Canadian television program entitled "One More Time". Besides Wiffen and Patterson, the new group consisted of Bruce Cockburn, Richard Patterson, David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson, Sandy Crawley and Dennis Pendrith. The group toured for most of the first half of 1969, with Crawley dropping out very early on. Cockburn soon left to pursue his solo career, and the group had disbanded permanently by the end of 1969.
Since the group's demise, Bruce Cockburn has had significant success as a solo act, and Colleen Peterson and David Wiffen were also successful artists, though on a more modest scale. Sandy Crawley and Brent Titcomb also developed solo careers, while Richard Patterson, Dennis Pendrith and Trevor Veitch continued their careers as accompanists for many years. Donna Warner did not continue her music career after her departure from the group. Comrie Smith's subsequent involvement as a professional musician does not appear to have been documented, although he was quoted extensively by Mojo magazine in a feature article about the release of Neil Young's Archives CD boxed set - because Smith had backed Young on some of the early recordings. (Young's associations with the group create their own fascinating web, what with both Smith and Koblun playing with him in his early days, and Donna Warner having sung with him in Toronto.)
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1966||"Bound To Fly"||34||Non-LP singles|
|"Bird Without Wings"||61||Christopher's Movie Matinee|
|1968||"Let's Get Together"||70|
|"Coat Of Colors"||—|
|Release date||Title||Chart positions|
|May 1968||Christopher's Movie Matinee||—|
- Museum of Canadian Music - 3's a Crowd
- IMDb - Christopher's Movie Matinee
- The Eclectic Screening Room, Jan 15, 2008 - Christopher's Movie Matinee (1968), (See discussion)
- Bush, John. Biography of 3's a Crowd at AllMusic
- Profile of 3's a Crowd The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia; www.jam.canoe.ca.
- Detailed history of 3's a Crowd during period of Brent Titcomb association; www.brenttitcomb.com.