Honeymoon Suite Rocked The Eighties

In his book about the now defunct  Music Express magazine, writer Keith Sharp talks about being a judge for the 1983 Q107 Homegrown contest.  Entries from regional bands were adjudicated in a three-hour listening session.  About the fourth or fifth track into the process they heard Honeymoon Suite’s “New Girl Now” and fell off their chairs. One of the judges was Warner Canada’s new A & R chief Bob Roper“It was like, ‘Wow! Who are these guys?’”

Honeymoon Suite had taken its name from its home town, Niagara Falls where it was founded with the help of producer Tom Pendergast.  He brought lead singer Johnnie Dee together with guitarist Derry Grehan to form the group which with the later addition of drummer Dave Betts, Ray Coburn on keys and Gary Lalonde on bass, became Honeymoon Suite.  He’d already scared up some interest in the UK and was in the process of pitching the band to Warner when Bob Roper was scribbling in his notebook at the Q107 Homegrown judging.  So it didn’t take long for things to happen.

“New Girl Now” peaked at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100, the video was a mainstay on MTV and three hit singles followed in Canada.  By 1985 the album was selling platinum in Canada and the band toured the world with bands like Billy Idol, Jethro Tull, The Kinks.  Their 1986 album went platinum out of the box. (By now those sales have tripled).

They ruled the eighties. In 1986 they were awarded ‘Best Live Act’ at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo.  That same year they took home a Juno for “Group of The Year”.  Their songs were used in “Miami Vice”, “Lethal Weapon II” and “One Crazy Summer”.

And great songs they were – : “Burning in Love,” “Wave Babies”, “Stay in the Light” – songs with videos that were always on high rotation on Much.  Big waves of synths, crunchy guitar riffs and great vocals.

Through the nineties, as trends moved away from big hair bands toward grunge, Honeymoon Suite continued to tour and record.  They worked with some of the biggest producers in the business, including Bruce Fairburn and Ted Templeman.  After multi-platinum success the band was no longer selling as well and the inevitable lineup changes happened as some members left.  Johnnie Dee and Derry Grehan remained at the core of the band, working as a songwriting team.  They filled the gaps with sidemen who had played with Billy Idol, Sass Jordan and others.  When Johnnie Dee was hit by a car at LAX airport, and had to take time off to recover, he was temporarily replaced by Michael McDonald, formerly of The Doobie Brothers and yet to break out as a solo artist.

In the new century, recording independently gave the band more room to stretch creatively.  In 2007 the original lineup reformed and recorded “Clifton Hill” with Tom Treumuth, who had produced their breakthrough initial album.  In the years since then the touring band has had some departures and returns, but they came back together this past spring to record some new songs for an EP entitled “Hands Up”, featuring new songs along with a couple of bonus tracks, live recordings of their old hits “Burning In Love” and “New Girl Now”.

Since then they have been touring across Canada with the show they are bringing to Meaford Hall, featuring new and old songs from the original band.

Showtime is 8 pm on Sat., Dec. 23rd.  Earlybird tickets are sold out but some remain at the door for $55

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