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Exclusive Interview

   In GODDO We Trust

an interview with Greg Godovitz



      by Lisa McDonald

      Live Music Head

      September 2010

Brian Pilling on guitar and brother Ed on vocals,

drummer Jorn Andersen, guitarist Mick Walsh,

and a bass player known as Greg Godovitz,

were the formation of a band called Fludd back in the 1970s.

Cousin Mary was a big hit for them

before Walsh was replaced by Mick Hopkins

and a keyboardist joined by the name of Peter Csanky.

But driven to fulfill musical desires of his own,

Mr Godovitz took his bass and left Fludd around 1974.

Along with Gino Scarpelli on guitar

and Marty Morin on drums,

Godovitz formed a power rock trio a year later.

Quickly gaining a reputation as a party band,

GODDO ripped apart Larry’s Hideaway

and the Gasworks of Toronto,

as well as any other Canadian rock and roll joint

that had the guts to welcome them.

When Morin left the kit to catch a bus,

Doug Inglis was picked up,

and If Indeed it's Lonely at the Top...WHO CARES...

It's Lonely at the Bottom Too

may have been the title of GODDO’s 1978 release,

but the band didn’t appear lonely rocking the pews of

the first-ever CityTV simulcast,

In Church.

And when GODDO’s growing popularity caused a riot

at the Ontario Place Forum in 1980,

resulting in the facility placing a life-long ban against the group,

Pretty Bad Boys was released,

their most successful LP to date.

In 1982,

the Juno folks awarded GODDO the nomination for

Most Promising Group of the Year

while they performed shows with Teenage Head

and had a record co-produced and mixed by

the renowned Terry Brown.

They also made their first and only music video,

Was It Something I Said?

To celebrate GODDO's 25th anniversary,

a party was thrown at Toronto’s Warehouse in 2000

featuring Ronnie Hawkins, The Partland Brothers,

Andy Curran from Coney Hatch and members of

Godovitz's new British invasion act,

The Anger Brothers.

In 2001,

Godovitz released Travels With My Amp,

a book chronicling the excess of the rock and roll road

and the dvd, Up Close and Uncomfortable followed in ’04.

While Greg began hosting a weekly

radio show called Rock Talk on 1010 CFRB,

the years 07 and 08 saw the release of the anthology set,

Under My Hat: Volume 1 - Active GODDO

and a ‘final’ gig at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse

before Godovitz moved to Calgary to play salesman for Axe Music.

Mr Godovitz resides in Alberta today

working as a studio producer

and developing emerging acts.

But GODDO still performs the occasional gig.

One such gig happened last May at the Sound Academy in Toronto

where the band celebrated their 35th anniversary.

I caught up with Greg prior to the concert

to discuss his past

and the upcoming GODDO documentary,

for which the concert was captured.

GODDO will return to Toronto on October 2

for a show at the Rockpile,

where documentary filming will again commence.

To be honest,

I expected Godovitz to chew me up

and spit me out in this interview,

given the bad-boy persona that is so lovingly portrayed in his book.

But the opposite happened.

Greg is not only a rocker who can tell a funny story,

he’s also a gentleman. 

Can you tell me about your parents and what brought them to Canada?

I have no idea what brought them here, but my mom’s side of the family is Russian and my father’s side is Polish. During the war, my mom’s family ended up in England. I remember the first time I visited Aunt Edna and Uncle Walter, my aunt said, “oh, those nasty Rolling Stones used to live on our street”. She told me stories about all the girls screaming outside the house in the 60s. They gave me an almost-life-size Beatles poster too, which I still have. My mom sang on the radio during the war, so the musical gene probably comes from her. But I also dance like my father. I’ve never been formally trained and I may never appear on Dancing with the Stars, but the girls in Calgary always want me to dance with them. At Sunnyside, my parents would go dancing during the big band era and according to my mom, my father was the best dancer of all the men. They lived at Dundas West in Toronto before buying a house at St Clair and Victoria Park in 1951, the year I was born. And they still live there. We’ve been trying to get them to sell and move into a retirement home, but they won’t.

And who does that these days; buys a house and stays in it their entire life?

The fact that my parents have stayed together for sixty years is amazing. My dad went overseas during the war and served in the Canadian Armed Forces. He fought the Germans and lived to tell the tale, although I’ve never heard him tell one war story. We used to have amazing Christmas Eve parties at the house and I remember Hank, an American friend of my dad, who was at Pearl Harbour. I was intrigued by Hank and asked him, “What were you doing when the Japanese first came in?” He said he was sitting on the throne doing his business when the first bombs went off.

Oh my god.

And when you think about how historical a moment that was! Some of my dad’s other friends would discuss the war and I’ve seen photographs, but I’ve never really heard my dad discuss it. I put a photo of him up on Wastebook (aka Facebook), dressed in leopard skin and a highland kilt of whatever regiment he was in. I wrote,“This is a photo of my dad in his famous leopard skin uniform during the war”. Many comments followed saying, “we’ve Google’d this famous leopard skin regiment, and can’t find anything!” (laughs)

This just in Facebook friends... Greg was only kidding!

I use Wastebook primarily as a marketing tool, but when I say dumb things, it’s usually because I’m juiced. I’m still learning to stay offline if I’ve had a couple of drinks. But there’s something about Wastebook I’d like to know... how come you’re cut off at 5,000 friends? Why can’t we have 20,000 friends? I don’t get it. Do they run out of cyber paper?

What is your earliest memory from childhood?

Sometime in the 50s, I was with my mom and our neighbour Helen at the Danforth & Dawes street car loop. I remember my mom putting me down on the ground so she could pound on the doors of the street car. A woman had got her skirt caught in the wheels and Helen was busy trying to tear the skirt before the woman’s legs went under. I was just a babe in arms so my mother can’t believe I remember this. I hadn’t even started walking yet. I figure I was about eight months, maybe a year old.

Holy cow, that is an early memory.

I also remember crawling on a black and white checked floor and seeing something appealing. I managed to stick my feet in the oven drawer so I could climb up. It was the element that was fascinating. It was glowing bright red.

Oh my god.

I stuck my hand on it. But the funny thing is, I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the heat until my mother came in the kitchen and started screaming. I looked at her, and fell off the stove. It’s believed I remember these events because they both involve serious trauma.

Right. It’s like “why is the news always bad?” I think it’s designed that way because it’s human to always remember the bad stuff.

These days, I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday. But I can go to a party and meet fifty people and remember all their names. It was Backward Bob who taught me. Back in the early GODDO days, Bob was just beginning to develop memory techniques and he said the trick is to look at the person’s face, concentrate on their mouth and equate the name with something else. We were at a cottage sitting on the dock. I wrote out the numbers 1-50 and correlated them to different things; 1, bird, 2, rock, etc. Bob would close his eyes and listen as I read them off, and he would memorize them. When randomly saying the number 39, he would say the right word that correlated to it. But he never got 19. Sticking the paper with the word on it in my mouth, I dived off the dock and he came after me frustrated, because I wouldn’t tell him the word. I shredded the paper under the water, and to this day he still doesn’t know what the word was. Backward Bob now teaches memory classes to big corporations for tons of money. He can memorize the atlas. He’s unbelievable. Bob’s also in the Guinness Book of Records for unilateral upside down reverse handwriting with both hands and feet simultaneously. 19 was iron pipe.

What about your first exposure to music, and The Beatles particularly.

The first time I heard Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and that ilk was via Uncle Raymond who played Sun Studio records, for which I broke one and he almost killed me. But it was my two older brothers who were instrumental in my musical development. My brother Gary came home one day with an album cover of faces half in shadow. It was Meet the Beatles. I remember thinking how stupid their haircuts looked. I was 13. But when the needle dropped down on It Won’t Be Long, that was it. Even though Gary brought it home, the album became mine. I played it till the grooves wore out. Within six months I was in a band with the same haircut. It was like an epiphany. The minute I heard those voices and that sound, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

I love to hear first time Beatle stories.

When Elvis went in the army, we were left with the Pat Boones and the Bobby Rydells of the world; sanitized, clean cut, non-threatening made-for-America rock and roll. When the Beatles came out, they weren’t threatening at all, outside of the overt haircuts. The threat came with the Rolling Stones, which was the greatest marketing coup of all time. The Beatles were loved by everyone and their mom, and the Rolling Stones were shown as dirty and smelly. It was phenomenal marketing.

The Rolling Stones are getting a lot of attention in the news right now.

I don’t listen to any of the new Stones material, but with all the hype, I did listen to the re-release of Exile on Main Street . I didn’t really hear anything different. Early Rolling Stones and the Brian Jones era is what I prefer anyway.

It was in the news recently that Toronto’s City Hall, aka Nathan Phillips Square will be receiving a long overdue face lift. In 1974, Fludd performed a free concert there in front of 50,000 fans. Were you still a part of Fludd at the time of this concert?

Yes, but I was just about to leave. An interesting side bar to my family history actually is that my father owned three parking lots in the same area as City Hall, but lost them to gambling. Consider what those properties would be worth now. He would have made millions of dollars off those lots. To his credit, he no longer gambles and he’s the longest serving member of gamblers’ anonymous in Canada. I’ve been to a couple of his pinnings. Gambling addiction is just like sex addiction, drug addiction or alchoholism, and my dad won’t even accept a free lottery ticket now.

How old is your dad?



And he’s coming to my gig on Friday.

Get out! That’s awesome.

Yea, it is awesome. Good genes. I can’t believe I’m 59. Everyone in Calgary thinks I’ll live to be a hundred. But I tell them, “my dad didn’t do all the drugs I did. My dad didn’t even smoke cigarettes”.

Do you remember any of the Nathan Phillips Square show?

I remember a plane pulling a banner overhead that said, “Fludd welcomes Toronto to summer”, or something like that. Brian, Ed and Mick had a way of doing bigger-than-life things. Fludd were the first band to have a big PA system in a club. When we got tired of waiting for the big time, we simply bought one ourselves. We were the first band to have an extra truck just for the equipment. We had the best lights, fog machines and all that shit.

Ed Pilling along with brother Brian (who succumbed to cancer), meant a lot to you. What instantly pops into your mind when you think about Brian, and do you still stay in contact with Ed?

I wish Brian was still alive for starters. We met in grade 9 and after forty years, the songs he wrote are still getting airplay today. I hear Cousin Mary all the time, no matter where I go. How could a kid compose such timeless music at the age of 20? I would love to know his mind today. When I first met Ed, he was a drummer. And then he became a front man and a darn good one. In fact, it’s common knowledge in certain circles that Robert Plant stole everything from Ed Pilling. Ed and Robert were friends back in the day, and it was Ed who had the open shirt and whole stage presence thing going on long before Plant took it to another level.

And it’s been said that Robert Plant never felt he could sing until the fourth Led Zeppelin album. Up till then he competed with the guitar by screaming over it.

I never liked Robert Plant’s voice until I heard the Alison Krauss album. Now I’m in love with it.

Raising Sand is a great record.

Plant’s voice has mellowed with age, the same with Geddy Lee (RUSH). There are so many examples of people who have proven you don’t have to be a great singer to be successful; Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young all come to mind. As far as staying in touch with Ed, I see him all the time. Ed will be playing with us at the Sound Academy. We’ll do Cousin Mary acoustically and Home Made Lady electrically. Actually the only song Brian and I wrote together was Fortune in Men’s Eyes, which truth be told, I wrote ninety percent of. I figured the only way to get a song on a Fludd album was to give them full credit. Of course they didn’t fall for that (laughs). It was frustrating because I was writing all these songs I thought were good, and they were good. When my mom asked Brian, “why don’t you do some of Greg’s songs?” Brian said point blank, “This is my band Mrs Godovitz.” But you see, Fludd were starting to become real musicians when I was still into smoking pot and screwing everything that moved. I wanted to be a rock star. I was the lone guy on the bus who was into the lifestyle and the great looking clothes. Not using my songs was a mitigating factor in leaving Fludd, but it was also the fact I didn’t like the direction the band was going. They got all musical and all theory. Leaving the band when I did makes sense now, because the band went on to become Saga.

You were the straight ahead rock and roll guy.

Yea, and Saga is a prog rock band with all those flourishes and shit. Give me a Chuck Berry riff any day! And once I had the power of my own band, I did the same thing to the GODDO guys as the Pillings did to me. No one could get a word in edgewise.

Travels with My Amp is quite a document of the rock and roll lifestyle; especially the last chapter of the Fludd days (pre-AIDS, with warts and getting a needle in the penis). Do you consider yourself lucky now that you didn’t end up dead?

Everyone who’s read the book tells me how amazed they are I’m still alive. All that hanging off balconies thirty floors up, jumping from high rises and riding atop cars...

Mick Jagger was just in the news saying, “that’s what you did then. It was all about excess.”

Even the guys at Axe Music were amazed. I never said anything to anyone about what I did when I started working there, but they found out. They’d say, “you’re the only guy in this store that’s actually lived the life that we all dream about.” I may have lived that lifestyle but it’s like Ronnie Hawkins says, “We made a million, but spent two.” (laughs) It’s been a great life, and GODDO is still going. And who’s to say what will happen with the doc. With a bit of luck, perhaps we’ll be the next Anvil.

A band I don’t know anything about really.

Anvil used to open for us. Have you seen their documentary?


Oh, it’s brilliant! But am I expecting the same brilliance with our doc? No, because we’re not nearly as charming or as endearing as the members of Anvil. But I am looking forward to having a look back at the last thirty five years of my life. It’s one of the things I like about Wastebook. Many people post stuff I’ve never seen. On the other hand, I wish I hadn’t seen some of the photos. Back in the old days, we’d get 500 or so pics done, but only two went out to the public. These days, photos and videos of musicians picking their nose and everything else gets thrown up on Youtube and Wastebook by anyone, anytime, instantly.

When we were teenagers, cameras would be confiscated at the door of a concert. Now, not only are we no longer holding up lighters like we use to, everyone holds up cameras and cell phones. Does it bother you to look out at an audience of raised technology?

The first time it happened to me, I loved it. Seeing all those cameras raised is a cultural phenomenon. But later, when I saw the photos on Wastebook, I hated it.

Photo by Harold Bransch

I was recently communicating with your friend Lindon Henthorn, and here is what he had to say... “I really enjoyed playing drums with Greg, Eddie Schwartz, Kerry Crawford & Peter Flaherty in a band called Mushroom Castle. Greg was a killer bass player even back then. Greg smoked his first joint with me. Please give him my warmest regards and ask him about the $5k mink coat he got from Lou Myles in 1980. That was a killer coat!”

Mushroom Castle was a great band. There’s a story in my book of when I almost burned Lindon’s house to the ground. But as for the coat, I remember going to Lou Myles which was not a place I would normally shop, but this is when GODDO was doing very well. I was looking as punk rock as I could, and I tried on this Gestapo-looking, soft black leather coat with mink lining. I’m not really a fur guy, but I bought it simply because the sales guy pissed me off. His attitude implied the coat was way out of my league. I was stupid for buying it because I only wore it once before giving it away. And I think it cost more like $3k, but still a lot of money back in 1977. By the way, back in the Yorkville days Lindon Henthorn had the look of a British mod. There were guys who looked like the Beatles and guys like Lindon who were the dedicated followers of fashion. Lindon was a really handsome guy with perfect mod hair, and he’s also a great drummer, very Keith Moon. I ended up joining his band.

Lindon’s great and drummer’s rock, but tell us about almost burning his house down.

I was lying on Lindon’s bed in Scarborough, smoking a joint and killing myself laughing. Lindon had this lamp from the head shop where he worked; the Mexican kind with hearts and stars cut into the shade. I stuck the shade over a candle which not only caused the hearts and stars to flicker on the walls, but the shade caught fire. Lindon and Kerry (a really talented Robbie Robertson-type Fender Telecaster guitar player), were in another room high on acid. They came rushing in screaming, “What the hell are you doing Godovitz? Are you trying to burn my mother’s house down!” (laughs)

Lindon’s been living in Florida, but he’s back in Canada now living in the Niagara region.

I haven’t seen Lindon in a long time. And I don’t remember how Eddie came into the fold back then, but I do admire the fact he wrote all the songs for Mushroom Castle. It was the psychedelic era and we all wore the pre-requisite caftans. I wore a blue one with dragons on it.

Let’s jump ahead now to your days as an activist. Upon learning Toronto radio station CHUM FM wouldn’t play GODDO’s record Under My Hat, you picketed outside the station with a sign that read, “CHUM FM unfair to local acts”. The song was eventually added to the playlist, becoming a staple and giving your hometown of Scarborough a rock and roll anthem. What do you think of radio today and its role in rock and roll?

Sweet Thing makes for a better anthem, but I wish I still had the sign. I think it read, “London, Los Angeles and New York - cities where legends were created, not deflated. CHUM FM unfair to local talent”. At the same time as this, we opened for Golden Earring at Massey Hall and the following day Larry Wilson (deejay, CHUMFM) couldn’t stop talking about us on the 6:00 rock news. From then on, everything changed really fast. Every band wanted to play The Gasworks and when we did, we packed it to the point they were turning people away. As for radio today, Q107 is what I call Who-Bono-Zeppelin. They play the same 30 songs over and over.

But Q107 still plays GODDO, where I assume CHUM FM probably doesn’t.

GODDO was one of the bands who helped build Q107. The station had a Win GODDO at Your High School contest and received over a million entries. A million! I remember seeing boxes of letters. A whole office with nothing but stacks of letters saying, “we want GODDO at our high school”. It was a French immersion school that won. Years later, Q107 had a Win No Doubt contest and I think they got 50,000 entries. We got a million; a million GODDO fans were listening to their station!

Do you hear GODDO on the radio in Calgary?

I’ve done interviews on the Q in Calgary, and had to bring in product because they didn’t have any. Yet when I first moved out there and drove around, I started to remember, “hey, we played there!”, and “we nearly sold out that place”. We had a fairly big following in Calgary. When asking customers at Axe if I could help them, they’d often give me a look to say, “get the hell away from me”, until I gave them my business card. Then I’d hear, “holy fuck”. On one occasion after seeing the business card, a 6 foot 7 customer got down on his knees and started bowing. Richie, who also works at Axe said, “does this happen to you often, Godovitz?” to which I replied, “not by anyone this big!” There’s a station in Edmonton called CKUA. I’ve been listening to it for the last two years. The disc jockeys choose their own music, and there are great programs by Holger Petersen and Terry David Mulligan.

Speaking of Terry David Mulligan, I use to watch MuchMusic when he hosted the show Backtraxx. I mailed in a request and because it was played on the air, I won a James Brown boxed set. But they never sent it to me. If you’re in contact with Mulligan, tell him I’ve been waiting a couple decades for that boxed set!

I’ll have a word with Terry when I get back.

An Act of GODDO was recorded in Florida in the same studio that made the Bee Gees famous. Maurice Gibb dropped by at the time and wanted to help re-record Chantal, but you blew him off. The Bee Gees were easy to hate back in their over-exposed disco days, but they are undoubtedly superior song writers. Have you had any run-ins with the Brothers Gibb since then?

No, but it’s like every time I get to a juncture in the road where I could make a turn toward candy trees, fairies and elves, I head straight toward disaster. I mean, Maurice Gibb is a guy who was being managed by Robert Stigwood, one of the biggest managers in the world and he’s asking me to come and stay at his place so he can introduce me to Stigwood. And I blow him off? On another occasion, my wife sent my recording of You Can’t Do That to the offices of Yoko Ono, but it turned out it was really sent to the offices of Yoko’s ex. A girl called me up and asked, “is that you singing on this thing?” I said, “yea”. She said, “I work for a guy named Wes Farrell”. The name rang a bell, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She went on to ask me if I wrote original songs and when I told her I did, she asked me to send them to her. Shortly thereafter, I realized Farrell was the guy who wrote Boys, which the Beatles recorded. Farrell was also responsible for inventing the Partridge Family and made millions writing songs for David Cassidy. One day the phone rings in my office and a New York accent says, “Greg, it’s Wes Farrell calling.”

I loved the Partridge Family growing up.

Farrell says to me, “if you’re not doing anything on Monday, I’d like to fly you down to New York for a talk.” I accepted the invitation and a limousine met me at the airport. I had written a song called Dreams of New York City and one of the lines in the song is “I love Manhatten in the falling rain”. We were driving across a rainy Manhatten at the time, and my song was blasting inside the limousine. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. The next morning I was taken to meet Wes. I’m ushered into this oppulent office with gold and platinum records lining the walls and the first thing Wes says to me was, “I don’t think you’re a very good songwriter”. I was crestfallen. “I think you’re an important songwriter. Listen, I’ve got some business to do now, but my boys will take you out on the town tonight, and we’ll meet again in a couple of days.” The next day Farrell found out his partner had embezzelled him for seven million dollars, and suddenly I’m back on a plane headed to Canada. (laughs)


At least I got to hear Farrell say, “I think you’re an important songwriter”. But ya know, had something come of all that where I made a zillion dollars, I’d be dead now anyway. There was enough excess going on in my life at the time, with the modicum of success GODDO had achieved; any more, and I wouldn’t be standing here today.

“I’m going to be so famous some day, you should get to know me now!” was what was written on a note you passed to Linda Lovelace. I read Lovelace’s book and watched the film Deep Throat. I believe it was the film that pretty much started off the whole porn industry. I find comparing porn from the 70s to the porn of today is very much like comparing music of the 70s to music of today. What do you think about the culture of the 60s and 70s and the impact that’s still being felt today?

Linda Lovelace was stunning; a beautiful woman. I had the jacuzzi fired up, waiting with champagne and candles. But Linda’s boyfriend cum manger wouldn’t let her out. What a missed opportunity. I would have got her! (laughs)

What about comparing the culture from back then to the culture of today?

I was listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage last night and he says there was another renaissance between ’51 and ’71. And he’s right. There was social consciousness, fashion, music, and sexual revolution. Back then, the music was real. The sex was real. The culture was real. Steve talked about how the era of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt was the big renaissance, but in the future, historians will look back on the years between ’51 and ’71 as another one. And what a time to be 13 years old. In ’55-56, I got to witness the start of rock and roll; seeing Elvis on Ed Sullivan. Knowing now how records are made, it’s amazing That’s Alright Mama was done with only a two-track machine and one microphone. Sam Phillips, the ultimate engineer decided mic placement would be the best way to get that sonic quality. When I had the radio show, I’d receive free stuff all the time. I would listen to bands like the Fountains of Wayne and the Rembrandts, because I’m a big fan of pop music and great harmonies. I listened to Fleetfox too, a band with a Beach Boys influence.

Are these bands still together?

Yes, and they’re fantastic. The Rembrandts had a big hit with the theme song from the tv show Friends, but that song isn’t indicative of what they can really do. They have three albums and they’re brilliant. I’ve been vying for a show on CKUA because I have a record collection that’s probably never been heard by their listeners, along with a rolodex of amazing people I could interview.

That wouldn’t include Linda Lovelace obviously. But had she joined you in the jacuzzi, would the story have made it into the book.

The original copy of Travels with My Amp had the publisher asking me, “do you really want to include this story? At some point your mother or daughter will read this.” I looked over some of the material, and said “maybe you’re right, that’s pretty disgusting.” On the other hand, I left the story in about my friend screwing the chick after a dog was in her.


After I wrote it, I called him up. He said, “don’t pwint that!” (He couldn’t pronounce his r’s). “Don’t pwint that in your book Gweg!” “Okay, fine it’s out,” I said. Half an hour later the phone rings, (and this happens all the time) “Pwint it Gweg. It’s a gweat wock and woll stowy”. Now everyone knows my friend Bruce did a chick after a dog was in her.

I laughed out loud reading the story of Wayne, the crazy looking guy who lived under a bridge in your hometown.

Wayne, the Mayor of Scarborough.

(laughs) You were convinced Wayne was an alien writing a thesis on Scarborough. And apparently Myra, GODDO’s wannabee manager is an alien as well. You talk about seeing funnel-shaped objects resting on clouds from your seat inside an aircraft, and there’s also mention of a UFO sighting while travelling through Egypt. What is it with Greg Godovitz and UFOs?

I saw a great one yesterday just before I left Calgary.


I’ve seen too much in the sky to not believe. That funnel-shaped object we saw from the airplane was a couple miles long. And when the stewardess saw it, she said “holy shit!” before heading straight toward the cabin. When we landed, the crew got off first and then these people came on board before we were allowed to get off, so something was definitely going on. I was coming from a gig in Markham once, at about 3am on a Sunday. Coming down Hwy 9 which was totally deserted, I looked out and saw a ball of light the colour of blue. You couldn’t tell how big it was or how far away it was, but it was hovering. I pulled over and rolled the window down. It couldn’t be the moon, I thought, because the moon was over there. Suddenly it turned this funny red shape and started moving all over the place, and then it stopped and turned blue again. I’ve seen enough UFO abduction movies in my time to know I didn’t want the anal probe, so I got the hell out of there.

So you’re not like the Richard Dreyfuss character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind who is so curious, he’s the first to sign up to board the alien ship?

Only if they proved to me they’re benevolent. It’s the bad ones out there that bother me. In the movie Fire in the Sky, they came down and stuck goo in your mouth and needles in your eyes. Driving by the Toronto Zoo that same night, a cop stopped me. I said, “But, I live over there.” He said, “they’re shooting a movie at the Zoo”. I said, “are they using helicopters on the shoot?” He says, “no, why do you ask?” I said, “well, about two miles back I spent a half hour watching...” The cop put his hand on his gun and looked up toward the sky. (laughs) He was the only cop on the beat. I really didn’t want to turn back, but I had to. I was shitting myself though, because I’m perceptive to these things. And they’re obviously letting me see them. We never actually questioned anybody on the airplane about that funnel shaped thing resting on a cloud, but my wife saw it. It was conical, completely cornered at one end and rounded at the other. You couldn’t tell how far away it was, but it was massive.

I suppose you’ve seen that episode of Twilight Zone where William Shatner’s character sees the alien outside the aircraft?

I don’t get on a plane without looking for the gremlin on the wing.

(laughs) The advanced paycheck GODDO received for Pretty Bad Boys in ‘82 was used to finance a playboy-styled vacation to Egypt. You were known as Lawrence of Scarberia while there. Did Egypt live up to your expectations? Have you been back since?

Lawrence of Arabia is my all-time favourite film. I haven’t been back to Egypt, no. It’s very expensive to go there. I think the advance I got was $30,000, which was a lot of money for a young guy back then. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid, so I was excited to see the Coliseum, the Acropolis and the Pyramids. It was a wonderful month. And we went through thirty thousand dollars pretty fast. I remember being in Rome and contacting my manager for another ten grand. We were renting cars and being chauffered around everywhere, in total rock star decadence.

photo by Marko Shark

Tell me about the strange encounter you had with a wizened old man that somehow resulted in Nile, your first born child.

Everyone was hitting us up for money and this 4ft old man comes over and grabs us by the hand. There was police tape that said, “no unauthorized personnel beyond this point”, but he took us under the tape anyway and we found ourselves in a place with a 12ft Pharoah with a huge phallus and a pregnant-bellied Queen kneeling in front of him. The old guy took one of my wife’s hands and put it on the phallus and took one of my hands and put it on the pregnant belly. He said all this jibberish and then left. We stayed for a while taking pictures and stuff, wondering what it was all about and then later that night, I seduced my wife in my sleep. Just before I orgasmed, I awoke to find myself on top of her. I said, “did I just do what I think I did?” She said, “yea, you should stay asleep more often!” I still have the cassette tape of the old man’s incantations, but I’ve never had it translated. I don’t want to know what he was saying. Naming our first child Nile seemed appropriate, however I did check his head for 666 when he popped out.

With the birth of your son and the responsibility fatherhood brings, did this lead to the breakup of GODDO?

No, I was still the guy who watched his kids grow up over the telephone. I assume Nile grew up thinking it’s what everybody’s dad did. Even now, the last time I saw the kids was when they came to the Metalworks recording studio in Mississauga. I was quite proud and introduced my granddaughter to the band. I played with her on the floor for a few minutes and then it was back to work.

As for marriage, fatherhood and the breakup of GODDO?

We’d have dinner parties and people would say to my wife, “you know what he’s like on the road, don’t you?” Christ. She knew there were tons of slips, but never said anything about it. My wife and I eventually divorced and she remarried a lawyer in Cleveland. As part of the settlement, I said she could have the house, the furniture, and the money, but I want the kids. It cost me a fortune, but I got them. As a father I think I did okay. As for the breakup of GODDO, there were mitigating factors within the band that were causing us to self-destruct. I started to think that nobody cared as much as I did anymore. So I wanted to do something else; to grow. I was tired of the format of playing as a trio. I wanted a bigger band.

Are any of your children musicians?

Growing up, Nile picked up the bass and guitar. But he soured on me when his mother and I broke up. He hated me for it, and I was the last guy he wanted to be like. Now at 28, Nile has had a change of heart, so I sent him a keyboard at Christmas time. But ya know, I’m the absentee grandfather now, just like I was the absentee father. What am I going to do? They’re here, I’m there, and their mother lives in Cleveland. It’s the way our lives turned out.

What’s your other book about, The Fartian Chronicles?

I’m still working on it, but the book will be a collection of short stories about what happens to me every day. There’ll be stories about shopping and traffic congestion; and the story of Aunt Toni, Van Gogh and Me. When Stella and I were first going together, this little old lady showed up on our doorstep. Stell said, “holy shit, it’s my Aunt Toni!” When I learned Aunt Toni’s son (a serious art dealer in Paris and New York) had died from AIDS but had an eight million dollar Van Gogh stored in a Geneva vault, I suddenly became Mr Attentive and lit all of Aunt Toni’s cigarettes. I took her for walks. She smoked her first joint with us and almost died. And then she wanted me to find her some coke. Despite being a million years old, she asked me to leave Stella to go with her. Toni ended up dying in Paris where an evil daughter showed up, and Stella’s name disappeared from the will. Two years ago, I was fifty pages from finishing the book. I only needed one more story to tie it all together. Just recently I realized that the breakup, moving to Calgary and all the subsequent madness that’s happened since is just the story I need to finish it.

I honestly thought the Fartian Chronicals would be a book about your UFO sightings.

Well I did get the title from Ray Bradbury. And ya know, when I was on the book tour for Travels with My Amp, I was crapping myself at the thought of being interviewed by a woman. Just before going to air in an interview with Eileen Bynon, she said, “you treat women like bottles of beer.” I replied, “I like beer”. Her eyes turned to slits so I decided I better watch my p’s and q’s. I was scheduled for fifteen

minutes and ended up bumping the next guy by staying on forty minutes. At the end of the interview I told Eileen, “Christ, you scared the hell out of me.” She said, “oh, I could be scarier”. I replied, “but you have to remember I fried a million brain cells during that time”. Eileen says, “seems to me you held on to more than you fried”. The producer came over and said, “man, I think she liked you”. (laughs) And when I got home, Stella said, “she was flirting with you!”

On your radio show, some of the guests included Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas (who you’ve said was one of your best interviews), Meatloaf, Alice Cooper and George Harrison’s ex, Pattie Boyd. You also met Bruce Springsteen at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1977, and talked with him about ulcers. But surely meeting Paul McCartney must have been the greatest celebrity meeting of ‘em all.

McCartney is definitely the one. When I walked in his dressing room it was like seeing a cousin. I talked to him for about thirty minutes. McCartney is expert at making everyone feel at ease. His wife Linda was hovering about and she spotted the hand painted shoes I had on. She got right on me about them. I knew what she was driving at when she asked, “what are those made of?” But I assured her they were made of plastic, just like her. Like we’ve never seen photos of Linda in a fur coat. I don’t know if he’s read it, but Paul has a copy of Travels with My Amp, as does Elton John. Elton’s partner, David Furnish is a GODDO fan.

Not surprising, being Furnish hails from Scarborough.

I sent him a bunch of cds and two copies of the book.

You’re an avid reader as well.

I’m a big reader of rock biographies actually and I have hundreds of them. I just finished reading a biography on Johnny Cash. When I was doing the radio show, I was on the mailing list of four New York publishing houses and would get copies of books as they came out. At the cottage, I once read seven biographies in a week. Rock authors loved coming on my radio show, because they knew I took the time to read their book and I’d come up with better than the standard questions.

Heading into your sixties, do you take better care of your health and diet these days?

Well, not really. I love to cook, but I’m a bachelor again and I don’t like cooking for myself. There’s this place I play twice a week and they make me a great salad, and I’ll often stop for Indian food on my way home. But I drink like a bloody fish. I mean, it’s certainly not like the old days when we’d go on stage legless, but at the end of a show I really look forward to the glasses of red wine waiting for me in the dressing room. I tell my doctors, “I drink two bottles of wine every day, easily, and get up the next day totally functional. And I still smoke.”

Being totally functional is a sign of an alcoholic.

I went to Alcoholics Anonymous for three months. But I stopped going because all they talk about is drinking. The times I wanted a drink the most is when I was hanging out with them.

Unfortunately I’ve missed all the John Lennon tribute shows you were involved with at Healey’s over the last few years. But I really like the photo I saw of the two Gregs; Greg Wyard and Greg Godovitz. Are there more of these tribute shows scheduled in the future?

Greg Wyard is a fabulous musician who knows the Beatles stuff inside and out. The thing about the tribute shows is that we never really rehearse because I handpick the right musicians. But the songs aren’t easy, especially the Beatle chords in John’s quirky stuff. Lennon had banjo training in the beginning and learned all these strange chords with little fingers that I still can’t play. Wyard is a student of Lennon’s music and David Love is the best 12-string Rickenbacker player ever. I would send them a list of songs we’d be doing, and the keys. We’d hook up and do Strawberry Fields with a mellotron, compliments of Chris Dale (the Canadian mellotron expert living in Windsor) and we’d do 30 seconds of And Your Bird Can Sing just to make sure the guitars were locked in, and that was it. Everyone had homework to do, but the musicians are so good we didn’t miss a note at the show. It’s Randy Charlton who puts on the tribute shows and he told me people are screaming for more. But I didn’t do one last year. I was breaking up with Stella and didn’t feel like flying in. But I’d come back for another one now. Ya know, I always had massive nerves before performing and it’s something that’s just begun to tail off. I don’t know why, but one day the nerves went away and it was during one of the Lennon tributes. One of the things I wish is that Jeff Healey were still alive. Since Iiving in Calgary, I’ve been playing a lot of guitar and I wish I could show Jeff how much I’ve improved as an old man.

Do you enjoy playing with Gino’s son, Gene Scarpelli? I would think it could be somewhat emotional for the band having the next generation on stage.

Playing with Gene is like playing with Gino twenty five years ago; probably feels similar to Led Zeppelin having Jason Bonham play with them. Gene told me he dreamed of playing with GODDO his whole life. It’s great that he knows every lick his dad ever played, but Gene’s also a great guitar player in his own right.

One night at a gig in Barrie, GODDO had a comedian open up who was nearly booed off the stage, until you came out and pleaded with the audience to give the kid a break. When asked by Q107 “what was the worst experience you ever had on stage?” fellow Canadian Jim Carey replied, “Without a doubt, opening for GODDO when they did their live album in Barrie.” Are you still in contact with Carey?

No. Jim Carey has a multi-million dollar lifestyle now. There’s been talk of getting in touch with people like him and Mike Meyers for the GODDO documentary, but I don’t know if they’ll come forward. They certainly don’t owe me anything, but if they do step up, it would be fabulous.

When GODDO rolled into Toronto’s Rock and Roll Heaven in October of ‘09, I was there. The band rocked.

I had to be helped out of my shirt. I was that soaked. It’s the way I see Springsteen; the greatest rock and roll entertainer in history. I loved it.

There were other bands at R&R Heaven that night too; other bands that as a producer, you were introducing. But there was a big difference between when they played and when GODDO hit the stage.

photo by Jamie Patchett

The other bands were new; kids who’ve been together for only a month. GODDO, despite looking like we may fall apart, rock, because we’ve been doing it for a long time. I don’t feel right unless I have a guitar in my hands. It’s like an extension of my body and personality.

Tell me about the bands you produce now.

It used to be I never worked with women, but I’ve done three projects with women artists over the past year. I did a traditional East Indian folk album with Devi Naryani. I love sitar music. And I’m about to start working with Dani-Lynn, a 15-year old country singer who is also a great songwriter. A couple of others would be Britney Paige and Netty Mac.

Will you continue performing regularly around Calgary?

I’ve never seen a music community quite like the one in Calgary. People from Toronto will ask, “what the hell are you doing out there?” And I tell them, “it’s like an oil well ready to blow.” I enjoy playing with different musicians and get calls all the time to play the clubs. I like being in Toronto right now and I’m looking forward to the Sound Academy show, but I think it’s my destiny to be in Calgary; to discover the next great artist. There are a lot of things I want to do. In fact, I’d like to form a record label with people who have millions of dollars and can afford to do it the way the old guys did it.

Like Gene Simmons.

I want to be the A&R guy, the producer who goes out to find the acts.

Today is Bob Dylan’s birthday. Anything meaningful about Dylan come to mind?

Dylan wrote to me on Wastebook and asked,“do you have a functioning brain?”

What? I can’t imagine Dylan actually Facebooking. I would think his peeps do it for him.

There’s a lot of misrepresentation on Wastebook I know, but I found out it was really him. I wrote asking, “you hired a guitar player who’s a friend of mine. Who is it?” And when he wrote back asking if I had a functioning brain, I let him have it. I’d been drinking, so I didn’t give a shit who I was writing to. I wrote back saying, “Listen, I asked a simple question to find out if you are who you say you are. As far as my functioning brain, have a word with Gordon Lightfoot or Ronnie Hawkins.

What is the most outrageous thing you’ve heard said about yourself?

I’m gay and have cancer.

What is the best piece of advice you were given, and whom did you get it from?

My mother. She told me, “whether there are five people in the audience or five thousand, give them the same show”.

And now for the most important question... did there have to be so much assholery in GODDO?

I hear this from everybody. But I’m an affable oaf.

There are substantial amounts of assholery in your book. It may have been I who approached you to arrange this chat, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat hesitant about interviewing you.

The guy that wrote Travels with my Amp is not necessarily the guy in the book. I have always treated our fans with respect. I have always treated our opening acts with respect. I still have people coming up to me saying, “we opened up for you and you let us use your amps”. It was me going to the roadies saying “make sure these kids get fed and something to drink and make sure they’re treated with respect”.

I like GODDO music and I have a fondness for 70s rock. I can also understand to a degree the bad behaviour of men in the decadent world of rock back in the 60s and 70s, but...

Fidelity to me was always impossible to imagine. Yet I was faithful to Stella for the last ten years. Now finding myself single again, the girls pursuing me are young enough to be my daughter. Am I stupid enough to think it’s my good looks that are winning them over? When I asked the latest one, “when did you know this was going to happen?” she said, “about half way through your first solo”. I thought to myself, “you’re that shallow?”

Being a woman with an enormous attraction to all things rock and roll, I admit I’ve allowed myself to be degraded by the men who make it.

I think both parties usually get something out of it.

But I just received the biggest hurt ever by a rock and roll relationship I had. It’s one thing to go through it when you’re young, but for me rock and roll assholery at our age is unacceptable. We’re not eighteen anymore, so why do reasonably intelligent human beings continue to treat each other in such hurtful ways?

I can still be accused of bad behaviour. I can still make bad decisions in regard to women. But I recently had a great chat with a woman who’s never been my girlfriend. When I asked her why she wouldn’t sleep with me, she said, “Because I want to be your friend”. As a result of not sleeping together, she’s become my confidant. I’m not delusional enough to think most chicks wouldn’t look at me twice, if not for what I do. I’d like to meet a woman who knows nothing about me.

But why do you treat women badly?

I don’t treat women badly. I hold doors open for them, I buy flowers for them, I light their cigarettes, and I stand up when a woman arrives at the table. My mother taught me well.

Your book does not convey this.

The book conveys what I want it to convey. I am capable of great cruelty at times, sure. I’ve drank, taken a lot of drugs and said and done things I totally regret. At the same time, what’s my adage in the book? “The glass is half full, the other half was delicious”. It’s a double positive, and that’s the way I look at life. Why dwell at the bottom of the barrel when you could be swimming at the top?

No woman likes to be taken advantage of, used, lied to and then betrayed. And at our age it can bring irreparable damage.

Welcome to life. It happens to everybody. The last woman who moved in and left after three months, broke my heart. Watching her walk around the apartment I’d say, “I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but thank you God!” But she was just using me to further her music career. And you’re absolutely right how we continue to put ourselves in the same position time and time again. No one likes being used, but you know what I did after she left?


I wrote five of the best songs of my life.

“I used to be a bad boy

never did what I was told

A snotty nosed mad boy

I could be rather so

But I grew into a bad man

with no feeling of regret;

No regrets!

A man who’s been a high man

and one who won't forget”

~ Tough Times / Cock On,

GODDO Live, CityTV simulcast 1979...


For tickets to GODDO at the Rockpile on October 2, 2010...

All Access Productions

The GODDO sway shop

GODDO on Myspace


About Lisa McDonald: otherwise known as Live Music Head, Ms McDonald is a vegetarian who enjoys practicing yoga and pilates, but it’s an enormous passion for music that keeps her tapping away at a keyboard. A freelance music writer living in downtown Toronto, Lisa is currently in conversation with local musicians and television personalities as she develops her interview skills and publishes articles at web-based magazines. She may be contacted at:

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