The top 10 songs by The Paupers come from a roster of musical material by the short-lived Canadian psychedelic rock band from Toronto, Ontario. From 1965 until 1968, Chuck Beal, Denny Gerrard, and Skip Prokop enjoyed a successful ride as one of the nation’s most popular groups. There was Bill Marion, but he opted out as the band’s rhythm guitarist in 1966 and was replaced by Adam Mitchell. Before the year was over, Mitchell became the group’s new lead singer and shared the primary songwriting duties with Prokop. It would be this core lineup that would launch The Paupers to a new high as a popular rock group before each band member decided to go his own way.
The Finkelstein Era
Before officially becoming The Paupers, Beal, Gerrard, Marion, and Prokop were first known as The Spats. The reason behind the name change came about when it was learned about an American rock group that also called itself The Spats. As suggested by Marion, The Paupers was a name that pointed out the men were always broke. These four men first came together as a rock band in 1964 before making the name change in 1965. Originally managed by Duff Roman, The Paupers signed a record deal with Red Leaf, an independent label from Toronto that recorded and released the group’s first two singles. 1965’s “Never Send You Flowers” and “If I Told My Baby” were moderately successful for the group, prompting another crack at the recording studio to produce more.
The start of 1966 witnessed The Paupers sign up with Duff Roman’s label, Roman Records. After recording “For What I Am” and a cover version of “Long Tall Sally,” The Paupers moved on and signed up with Bernie Finkelstein. The working relationship the group shared with the same manager that later managed Bruce Cockburn’s career began in the spring, shortly before its two singles with Roman were released. Before 1966 was over, Bill Marion was out of the lineup and was replaced by Adam Mitchell. Marion’s career direction after The Paupers began as a solo artist before teaming up with an Australian punk group known as The Last Words.
Originally from Scotland before moving to Canada, Adam Mitchell quickly became The Paupers’ new lead singer. He also teamed with Skip Prokop as the band’s primary songwriter. Under the management wing of Finkelstein, The Paupers were signed to MGM and were part of the fourteen-hour rock concert that was held inside Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens on September 24, 1966. By the time 1967 hit, the popularity of The Paupers became so great that it won over the attention of Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman.
The Grossman Era
After Albert Grossman assumed interest control of The Paupers from Bernie Finkelstein, the contract the Canadian rock band had with MGM was renegotiated and it was signed to its associate label, Verve Forecast. This led to Mitchell’s debut as the group’s lead vocalist with “If I Call You By Some Name.” It would be the first time The Paupers realized a hit on the Canadian Top Singles Chart. At the time, it was referenced as RPM, the Canadian equivalent of the US Billboards magazine setup. “RPM” was an acronym to describe Records, Promotion, and Music. It was a Nielsen-based rating system that began in 1964. After it was dissolved in 2000, Music Canada and the 2007 introduction of the Canadian Hot 100 have since taken over as the official rating system when it comes to musical material produced by Canadian recording artists.
While The Paupers was teamed with Grossman, the band members received greater exposure to a larger audience base across Canada and the United States. It also supported a number of recording stars such as Cream, Jefferson Airplane, and The MC5. These men were also supported The Jimi Hendrix Experience. 1967 was a year The Paupers enjoyed the height of its success as a rock group.
It was also a year met with bad luck, internal conflict, and an overload of press-related hype that would ultimately lead to the band’s demise. After MGM released Magic People as the group’s debut album in 1967 with a less-than-impressive sales performance, the roster within The Paupers became even more restless. They also met with financial issues that resulted in the need to put forth a second studio album in an effort to pay off the band’s debt.
1968’s Ellis Island was recorded with some changes to the group’s lineup. Bass guitarist Dennis Gerrard was out and Brad Campbell was in. There was also the addition of keyboardist Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat & Tears fame. Skip Prokop still rocked on as the drummer while Chuck Beal continued to perform his magic as lead guitarist. Adam Mitchell again performed lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Of the nine tracks recorded on the album, Mitchell sang the lead in all but two of them. It was Campbell who performed “Numbers” while Prokop sang “Oh That She Might.” Since Ellis Island featured Campbell and Kooper as two new talents to play off Beal, Mitchell, and Prokop, the musical content poured into The Paupers’ second album was more diverse than what was featured in Magic People.
It was also a recording where the focus was on experimenting with different sounds for each song instead of sticking to some sort of album-focused theme. This resulted in a diverse tracklist performed by an incredibly talented group of musicians. One fine example was “Ask Her Again” which featured Prokop playing a Japanese stringed instrument known as the koto. In what many fans and critics agree was a great album, by the time MGM Records released it to the public, The Paupers was as good as done. Prokop moved on to form Lighthouse and Campbell would become part of Janis Joplin’s The Kozmic Blues Band.
At one point, Dennis Gerrard did return to The Paupers but was deemed too unstable for a rock band that was struggling to keep itself together. There were also additional changes to the lineup that included James Houston, John Ord, and Roz Parks but there was not enough momentum to move The Paupers forward. The loss of Skip Prokop from the lineup was bad enough. Although Gerrard did return, he proved he was not as dependable as he used to be and was dismissed. His departure the second time around seemed to serve as the final straw on the camel’s back, at least for Adam Mitchell. After briefly enjoying a solo career, Mitchell went into production work. His new career path led him to work with another musical legend, Linda Ronstadt. No longer seeing a reason to keep The Paupers alive, Chuck Beal also went his own way. He became a music producer and manager who primarily worked with Canadian rock bands.
Top 10 Songs By The Paupers
#10 – Think I Care
1967’s “Think I Care” was the final single released credited to The Paupers. It came from Magic People, the one and only studio album the core lineup of The Paupers recorded together before Mitchell and Prokop had already been itching to move on. Originally hailing from Toronto, Ontario, The Paupers were regarded as radio station heroes by a fan base who loved the psychedelic rock that came from such a talented group of men.
The highlight of “Think I Care” starts at the beginning when Skip Prokop lets loose with his drumming skill. Not to be outdone, the guitar work by Chuck Beal and Denny Gerrard was superb. Adam Mitchell’s vocal performance wasn’t too shabby as hints of his Scottish heritage could be heard as he sang the lyrics. “Think I Care” was a song loaded with a carefree attitude, which seemed apparent as the men put together one of the better songs belonging to the Magic People tracklist.
#9 – It’s Your Mind
“It’s Your Mind,” became one of the more popular songs from The Paupers’ debut album, Magic People. Released in 1967, the Canadian-based rock group was promoted with so much hype that met with certain expectations placed upon the shoulders of Chuck Beal, Denny Gerrard, Adam Mitchell, and Skip Prokop. This put a lot of pressure on a group of men who clearly had the talent but learned several hard lessons about how the music industry works. “It’s Your Mind” was considered a folksy psychedelic gem among the fans. Many viewed “It’s Your Mind” as a “trippy” experience while others took Mitchell’s lyrics to heart as a musical lesson in psychology.
#8 – You and Me
“You and Me” was a single The Paupers recorded in 1967 that many critics felt should have earned a spot on the music charts. It came from the album, Magic People, and was regarded as one of the livelier tunes produced by a rock group that seemed to be at its happiest. It did become a favorite among The Paupers’ fan base but not quite enough to earn serious airtime on the radio stations to help the mediocre sales performance the album experienced after it was released by MGM. This song has, over time, won more fans over and has since become a beloved Canadian oldies classic. “You and Me” was lyrically performed by Adam Mitchell as a fun tune about making the most out of life while Chuck Beal and Dennis Gerrard let loose with their fantastic guitar performances. Not to be outdone, Skip Prokop once again poured his musical energy on the drums, demonstrating why he deserved to be called a drumming superhero.
#7 – If I Told My Baby
“If I Told My Baby” was a follow-up single behind 1965’s “Never Send You Flowers.” The Paupers experienced a regional hit with this song as well and it was clear at this point it was only a matter of time before the four-man band would enjoy national success as a rock band. It was also predicted the talent pool of Chuck Beal, Bill Marion, Denny Gerrard, and Skip Prokop would spark the attention of the American music industry. As fate had it, Bill Marion opted out and was replaced by Adam Mitchell. Marion and Prokop co-wrote this song and it was released as a non-album single. Throughout the City of Toronto, “If I Told My Baby” quickly became a fan favorite. It was also enough to win over the attention of interested record labels who saw potential in this group of talented young men.
#6 – Never Send You Flowers
Before The Paupers became a popular rock band across Canada, it was already well-established as a fan favorite in Toronto, Ontario. This was the original home base of Chuck Beal, Bill Marion, Denny Gerrard, and Skip Prokop. “Never Send You Flowers” was a song the group recorded and released in 1965 as a single through a local independent label known as Red Leaf. This song became a regional hit, paving the way for bigger things to come for a team of four men who knew how to win over a captivated audience. Written by Bill Marion and Skip Prokop, “Never Send You Flowers” was a debut that put gave The Paupers the exposure needed to win over the attention of larger record labels. First, The Paupers teamed up with Bernie Finkelstein before Albert Grossman took over the career direction of a Canadian rock band that showed so much promise.
#5 – Magic People
Magic People was a studio album that featured Rick Shorter as its producer when the core lineup of The Paupers was still together. Adam Mitchell was the lead singer who also played rhythm guitar. There was also drummer Skip Prokop, lead guitarist Chuck Beal, and bass guitarist Dennis Gerrard. As a single, “Magic People” was released by MGM with the hopes it would be enough to bring back the winning formula that made The Paupers start out so well together as a band. Turns out that wasn’t the case. By the time 1968 was over, the restlessness of Gerrard, Mitchell, and Prokop caught up with them and they each moved on with their own respective music careers. “Magic People” was a musical gem that bordered between garage-style rock and psychedelic.
#4 – Numbers
Released in 1968, Ellis Island was the second album produced by The Paupers before it officially disbanded. What made “Numbers” stand out was the vocal performance delivered by newcomer Brad Campbell. He was Dennis Gerrard’s replacement and it was he who sang the lead to what many fans agree was one of the best songs on The Paupers’ second album. Campbell was the same bass guitarist who joined Janis Joplin to perform in concert, as well as record 1969’s I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! and 1971’s Pearl. When listening to “Numbers,” fans get a good taste of Campbell’s talent with the instrument, as well as why Skip Prokop earned his name as one of the best drummers of all time. “Numbers” was a song that featured fantastic guitar riffs that would make Jimi Hendrix proud.
#3 – Simple Deed
“Simple Deed” was a follow-up single behind “If I Call You By Some Name.” It was released in 1967 and became a number twenty-one hit on what’s now referred to as the Canadian Top Singles Chart. As the popularity of The Paupers continued to grow, the lineup featuring Dennis Gerrard, Adam Mitchell, and Skip Prokop showed promise as a serious rock group with a bright future. Although this was the case for each man, this was not so for The Paupers as a whole. By the time these men went their separate ways in 1968, whatever magical formula The Paupers was used to become one of the most popular groups coming out of Toronto, Ontario was now gone. “Simple Deed” was the final single The Paupers would realize a hit before officially calling it quits.
#2 – South Down Road
“South Down Road” was regarded as one of the best songs coming from The Paupers’ second studio album, Ellis Island. The incredible guitar and bass riffs from Chuck Beal and Brad Campbell made this song sung by lead vocalist Adam Mitchell burst with so much energy that it’s truly music to a psychedelic rock fan’s ears. The drumming performance by Skip Prokop was, as usual, exemplary.
Few songs define the wild ride of the late 1960s as “South Down Road” a song many fans agreed should have received more attention on the radio when it was released as a single in 1968. At over eight minutes long, “South Down Road” was an instrumental joyride that began with Al Kooper’s keyboard performance. It was then juiced up by an orchestra of sounds that felt like The Paupers decided to completely let loose and let the music take on a life of its own. According to Adam Mitchell’s lyrics, “South Down Road” was a journey worth taking as a spiritual experience. Fans of classic guitar and psychedelic rock will wholeheartedly agree it definitely is.
#1 – If I Call You By Some Name
On the Canadian Top Singles Chart, “If I Call You By Some Name” became a number thirty-one hit for The Paupers after it was released as a single in 1966. Despite classifying itself as a psychedelic rock band, The Paupers released a somewhat mellow folksy-style tune that was written by the songwriting team of Adam Mitchell and Skip Prokop. On Toronto’s most influential radio station at the time, CHUM AM, “If I Call You By Some Name” peaked as high as number six.
This was the song that won The Paupers more than just nationwide attention among its countrymen. It also won the attention of US Billboard magazine and it was predicted it would make an impression on the American-based music charts as well. However, this was not the case, despite the fact it did become a fan favorite whenever The Paupers performed it in concert. The romantic appeal of this slower dance song was a contrast to most of the musical material The Paupers were best known for. At first, the bandmates didn’t care for the song very much but realized they had a hit on their hands based on the reaction they received each time they performed it in concert.
Top 10 Songs By The Paupers article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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