Trooper - extended bio

Singer Ra McGuire and Guitarist Brian Smith have been writing songs and performing together since 1965. During the first formative nine years they fronted only one marginally notable band, the eccentric and eclectic Winters Green. 

In 1974, Randy Bachman of BTO signed their band, Applejack, to his Legend Records label. "Trooper", their first Bachman-produced album, was released in 1975 and the newly-named Trooper began touring the U.S., backing up BTO, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, The Doobie Brothers, and many others. In Canada, "Baby Woncha Please Come Home" reached the top ten and "Good Ol' General Hand Grenade" went to number one for a month. Smith and McGuire were nominated for 'Best Composer' at the 1975 Juno Awards.

In 1976, now signed directly to MCA Records, Trooper released "Two For the Show", which became their first gold album. The title song, written by McGuire, went to #1 and "Santa Maria" went top five. The album eventually was certified platinum. McGuire was nominated for Best Composer and Trooper was nominated for Best New Group at the 1976 Juno Awards.

Trooper's third album, "Knock 'Em Dead, Kid" which included the hits "We're Here for a Good Time" and "Pretty Lady" was certified Platinum in March 1978. The group did an extensive tour in Canada and continued to tour in America. They were nominated for Best Group at the Juno Awards that year.

Their fourth album, "Thick as Thieves", contained the hits "Raise a Little Hell" (their first hit in the U.S.), "Round, Round We Go" and "The Moment That it Takes". It shipped gold and eventually was certified Platinum. A critic for The Vancouver Sun, writing about their sold out Pacific Coliseum show said: "if there was ever any doubt before, there can't be now; Trooper has arrived as a top-drawer concert band that can blow the competition off a stage anywhere, anytime." Once again, Trooper was nominated for Best Group at the 1979 Juno Awards.

"Hot Shots", a greatest hits album, was released in 1979 and sold 450,000 copies that year alone. Trooper was the first Canadian artist to ever achieve this sales status. The song "The Boys in the Bright White Sportscar" was included on the album although it had not previously been released as a single. It soon earned its 'greatest hit' status.

Six months later, after severing their artist-producer relationship with Randy Bachman, Trooper released the Howard Steele-produced "Flying Colors" album. It contained the hits "Three Dressed Up As a Nine", "Janine" and "Drive Away". The album was certified Platinum. At the 1980 Juno Awards, Smith and McGuire were nominated again in the Best Composer category; both "Hot Shots" and "Flying Colors" were nominated for Best Album and Trooper finally won the Juno Award for Best Group.

In 1980, Trooper released their last MCA album. Their single "The Real Canadians" received some airplay but sales were disappointing. MCA did not renew their contract. After finishing another extensive tour of Canada, the group did not tour or record for two years.

Mike Flicker, producer and engineer for the band Heart, approached McGuire and Smith in 1981 with a proposal to record what became the "Money Talks" album. The album was released in April 1982 on the Flicker/RCA label and featuring a video for the single "Only a Fool" directed by Doug Bennett of Doug and the Slugs fame.

Smith and McGuire took Trooper on the road again, and in 1986 played more shows than in any other year of their ten-year career, breaking attendance records from coast to coast.

In 1987, McGuire and Smith were encouraged by former MCA vice-president Scott Richards to start their own label and release a new album. With the help of their former manager, Sam Feldman, studio owner (and Powder Blues leader) Tom Lavin, and FACTOR they began recording the batch of 40 songs they had accumulated.

In 1988 MCA Records released the "Hot Shots" album on CD and sales rose to over six times platinum. Errol Ranville's recording of the Smith-McGuire song "Janine" was a hit on the Canadian country charts for 16 weeks and Trooper's other hits began, once again, receiving regular airplay with the advent of the classic rock radio format.

In 1989, Smith and McGuire's newly formed Great Pacific Records struck a distribution deal with Warner Music Canada. "The Last of the Gypsies" became the group's first release in nearly a decade, selling well over gold status, and re-establishing them as one of Canada's most successful and best loved rock bands.

Trooper's "Gypsies Tour" was the most successful Canadian tour of the summer. In all they performed 187 shows across Canada in 1990. The "Boy With A Beat" video received extensive airplay and a previously lost 1979 concert video was also aired frequently on Canada's 'Much Music'. "Thin White Line" was the second hit from the "Gypsies" album.

Trooper finished and released the "TEN" album (their tenth) and played 140 shows across the country in 1991. "The American Dream", the single from the album, went top ten.

In 1992 a personal tragedy struck the family of Trooper co-founder and guitarist Brian Smith. Brian left the road and was replaced temporarily by friend and former Sweeney Todd guitarist Skip Prest. Brian soon returned to the road, maintaining, through the early nineties, the same intense touring schedule.

In the late nineties Trooper's music began turning up on TV ads for everything from Tim Horton's Coffee to Molson's beer. The band itself became more visible on TV, playing the Grey Cup half-time show, the West Coast Music Awards and guest-starring on 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes' New Year's Special. Their songs were featured in numerous episodes of '22 Minutes' throughout the 8th season (2000-01), including a moving Christmas tribute to Canadian forces in Bosnia that featured "We're Here for a Good Time" as its central theme.

In 2000, Trooper celebrated their 25th anniversary with a reunion concert at Vancouver's legendary Commodore Ballroom. Tommy Stewart, Doni Underhill, Frank Ludwig and Harry Kalensky re-united with McGuire and Smith for a sold out and memorable Vancouver performance.

In 2001 Visionary Records released "Shot Spots", a Punk tribute to Trooper that contained 30 Trooper songs performed by 30 Canadian punk bands (D.O.A., SNFU, The Dayglo Abortions and others).

To ensure a balance of time between the road and home, and with demand for the band showing no signs of slowing down, Trooper began limiting their touring to 100 shows a year. Some of the challenges of trying to do this, and the rewards of succeeding, were documented in a four page 2004 photo essay by Todd Korol in Macleans magazine and a two page 2005 Globe and Mail story by Peter Cheney.

In April 2006, Trooper singer and songwriter, Ra McGuire released his first book: Here For a Good Time - On the Road With Trooper, Canada's Legendary Rock Band. The book was published by Insomniac Press and received rave reviews from fans, media, and fellow writers.

In celebration of the band's 35th Anniversary, a totally updated and re-mastered collection - "Hits From 10 Albums" - was released, featuring songs spanning the entirety of their recording career. Universal Music acknowledged them as "one of Canada's top five selling bands of all time", and John Kereiff, writing in Gonzo Magazine, dubbed the collection "THE summer album of 2010."

Trooper began 2010 with a nationally televised performance at the 2010 Olympics, held in their hometown of Vancouver BC. Later that summer they made national news again, visiting the National Preservation Centre in Gatineau QC, where they enjoyed a private tour and were shown some of the Trooper memorabilia being preserved for posterity by Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the the US Library of Congress.

In 2011, country music superstar Terri Clark released a cover of the Trooper hit "We're Here for a Good Time", which quickly shot to Top 10 on country radio charts.

In the Spring of 2012, Trooper's Ra McGuire and his wife, Debbie, were awarded the World Harmony Run's Torchbearer Award for their "collaborative commitment to inspire cultural harmony and community spirit through music, and champion the importance of fine arts in education". Previous recipients of the Award include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev and Mother Theresa. Also, in 2012, the "Ra and Deborah McGuire Collection" was installed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

In November of 2012, Trooper's Ra McGuire and Brian Smith received the SOCAN National Achievement Award at the Gala Awards ceremony held on November 19th at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) represents millions of Canadian and international songwriters, music creators, and publishers. The National Achievement Award is presented to SOCAN members "who have attained outstanding success specifically in Canada."

In addition to the National Achievement Award, Ra and Smitty also received three SOCAN Classic Awards at the 2012 Gala for "Raise A Little Hell", "General Hand Grenade", and "Janine". The Classic Award is presented for songs that have received over 100,000 documented radio plays, becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric of Canadian radio and culture. Four other Trooper songs have already received SOCAN Classic Awards: "We're Here For a Good Time", "Santa Maria" and "Pretty Lady" (presented to Ra and Smitty in 1999 and 2005), and one to Ra for "Two for the Show" in 1999.

Dan Brisbois of writes, "They've won practically every Canadian music award possible and they've been dubbed 'Canada's Greatest Party Band' ... and rightfully so." Bob Mersereau, author of The Top 100 Canadian Albums wrote, "Since it came out in 1979, Trooper's Hot Shots has been one of the biggest-selling albums in Canadian music history. It has gone six times platinum, and sells consistently, as do tickets to Trooper gigs. There are clubs and festivals across the country where the annual Trooper show is practically an official holiday." Indeed, Trooper continues to consistently sell out shows across the country - often performing for three generations of fans - demonstrating that the band and its music remain borderless, timeless and ageless.

Trooper has become a Canadian legend. They continue to perform their huge collection of hits with the vitality and sense of humor that has served them well on their steady march through the hills and valleys of Rock and Roll.

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