It’s safe to say that George Bowser and Rick Blue are more than popular – they are beloved by audiences wherever they perform. Each of them brings a rich musical history to one of Canada’s favourite ensembles.

If you are from Montreal, Quebec or anywhere else in Canada; the names Bowser and Blue immediately bring a smile to your face (even if you are wearing a mask).

George Bowser and Rick Blue were both born In England. Each existed musically and individually before they started performing together in 1978. Common and different sounds brought them together and have kept them entertaining audiences for over fifty years.

“My mother’s family was from Liverpool.Rick said from his home in Beaconsfield, Quebec. “The Liverpool element was definitive in my upbringing. My mother sang along to everything and my aunt used to sing in clubs. My grandfather used to give speeches and was known as a ‘raconteur’.

“Liverpool was a city with lots of theaters and clubs; and people used to go out a lot. There were pianos playing, people singing and telling stories.” Rick’s creativity came from from that background.

“Liverpool also had a wide variety of musical styles.” Rick explains; “Aside from the English Music Hall shows, there was a lot of Irish music. American music came across on the Cunard Lines and that music influenced all the Liverpool groups which eventually became the British Invasion.”

Bowser and Blue

An important photo session dissolves into laughter

The Beatles made Rick fall in love with so many different genres. The eclectic nature of The Fab Four was the blueprint for the type of diverse material Rick and George would later play. Pop, Folk, Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Beatles could play it all and so would Bowser and Blue. Playing everything is something Rick admits is a lot easier with two people rather than a group; “Within a band – there is more chance of someone not wanting to play a song.”

Rick Blue’s family moved to Montreal when he was thirteen. It was in high school when Rick started getting into popular music, listening to the hits of the day being played on the radio. It was at boarding school where Rick’s roommate played the banjo and taught Rick chords on the guitar so the two could play songs together. Rick adds; “We started doing Folk kind of stuff like The Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul & Mary.  I loved singing harmony so I also joined the choir in high school.”

After graduation, the Folk scene started to go Rock and it became electrified. As a solo act Rick played at Café André across from McGill. “I would play the off nights during the week. I had an old Goya guitar with nylon strings which I did not like that much because I always wanted a steel string guitar so I could sound like Bob Dylan. I used to get so nervous that I would throw up before each set. George once said to me; ‘Then when you got on stage and played, the audience would throw up’. “

Rick attended Sir George Williams where he met students from the Dorval area (West Island) who were also interested in playing ‘electric’ in a band. According to Rick; they wanted to write songs, and that was the whole point.

“We wrote an entire album of songs and rehearsed them in a basement. The guy who lived next door was Bob Harn who was in the music business in Montreal for many years. He used to write commercials for radio and TV. The band was called The British North American Act, and Bob managed to get a contract for us to record an album. It was recorded at André Perry’s studio. He later became famous for being the guy who recorded John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance at The Queen Elizabeth Hotel.“

Rick and his band recorded the album and played at the British Pavilion at Expo ‘67. Rick believes it was because of the band’s name they got that gig. Following the lead of bands such as Jefferson Airplane, the band then went hippy. Rick went full hippy because, “Everyone else was doing it.” Rick recalls that he and his lead guitarist once got kicked out of Toe Blake’s Tavern for having long hair. In those days; a definitive cultural divide took place between the ‘short’ hairs and the ‘long’ hairs. Hippies were on the streets and in bars; while people wearing fedoras, suits and dresses filled Le Forum de Montréal to cheer on Les Canadiens.

Rick’s band, The British North American Act did not go anywhere, but the album is now considered rare. According to Rick, it is worth $1,200 a copy if the record is in pristine condition. Rick finds this ironic since a ‘rare’ record is not something people usually want. In contrast, a record which sells one million copies is a ‘valuable’ record in Rick’s opinion.

Rick Blue then joined a band called Mantis. It was a Prog Rock outfit that holed up in the Laurentians and the jams went on forever. One chord pattern and one harmony led to another with solos coming and going. Each member of Mantis were all convinced of their ‘genius’ and they – like Rick’s previous band, also signed a record contract.

“We came close to a distribution deal with A&M Records,” says Rick. “That would have put us in the big time, but a business problem did not let that happen. We played clubs like The Moustache and The Edgewater.”

Since the early seventies, Rick Blue has been fortunate enough to make a living playing music, no matter how meager it was at times. “It seems I was destined to become what you hear now.”

Meanwhile, back in England…

George Bowser was born in Sussex, England and educated at Tonbridge School, Kent. His mom was a good pianist and there was always a piano in the house, with sheet music open and ready for someone to play. George would sit down and play untutored, from an early age. This encouraged his parents to arrange for lessons. The idea of lessons put an end to George’s interest in piano.

Bowser and Blue

Here’s the thing – George and Rick share a zany sense of humour

“We attended church services on Sundays, and my father sang with great enthusiasm,” states George. “I learned not to be shy about singing. Since my dad sang the bass parts, I was always attracted to the bass. Dad also liked musical comedy and I listened to his album collection repeatedly.”

George borrowed guitars and also made some out of boxes and string. At fourteen, his father bought a guitar for him but George really wanted to play bass. A year later he bought his first bass guitar – a Hofner. Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman – whatever song was playing, George listened for the bass. He could not afford an amplifier so he would borrow one, or press the bottom of the bass against a cupboard so that he could hear it.

It was at Tonbridge where George joined the choir – a boy soprano and later as a bass player. He played trombone in the cadet corps marching band and joined the theatre society.

“Bill Bruford (King Crimson) had the study room next to mine, but we only played music together once,” says George. “He didn’t think much of my taste in music, insisting that I should listen to the blues, rather than the Top Twenty.”

George left school and joined up with Christopher Tookey and Mark Henshall to form a pop group. They required a guitar player and preferably someone who could sing high. An ad was placed in Melody Maker and one of the respondents was Roger Hodgson (later of Supertramp).

“Roger impressed us by playing the intro to Pinball Wizard correctly on the guitar and his vocal range was astonishing;” George recalls. “He had written some very good original songs and was clearly a gifted musician, singer and songwriter. Chris, Roger and I had a good vocal blend and we made a demo recording at RG Jones Studios. Decca Records offered us a recording contract and Island Records were also interested, but only in Roger. I was due to go to university in September, so the group disbanded and Roger signed with Island Records.”

George arrived in Canada in 1970. That began a musical career playing with names that would become familiar to music fans. One of those names was Mike Driscoll (who later would play drums for The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Mick Taylor). Driscoll, Harry Marks and George formed a trio called Wizard and recorded one single Come Away. The song was later re-recorded by April Wine on the Forever For Now album.

Wizard was managed by Ben Kaye, who later became Celine Dion’s publisher;”says George.  “When our record company (MCA Canada) didn’t want to do an album with us, we assumed a personnel change was in order. At Mike Driscoll’s insistence, we hired Walter Rossi who is not known for his vocal chops. He is a guitarist, so I was kicked out.”

George then joined The Vegetable Band (Gary Moffet of April Wine fame was a member), the Saint Marc Street Band and Don Graham’s Graham County which eventually got a recording contract with Aquarius Records and released two singles. Nothing came of it and George returned to the UK.

“I was met by my cousin Alex Cooper, who had a band called Waves, featuring guitarist Kimberly Rew. When I arrived, Kimberley had just re-joined The Soft Boys, so I stepped in. We made some recordings and played a few shows. However, prior to leaving Canada I had recorded a demo with Kimball Lee. The demo attracted the attention of someone from CBS Canada and Kimball asked if I would come back and put a band together to audition for a contract. Foolishly, I did. I abandoned the UK for a second time, leaving Alex to re-constitute the Waves with a singer named Katrina. Walking on Sunshine was huge and Katrina and The Waves took off. Bowser and Blue became their opening act when they toured the United States and Canada.”

George Bowser received a visit from Ricky Blue while in England. Rick stayed in George’s flat and the duo drank a lot of beer and played songs together. Their voices blended well and Rick’s rhythm guitar was strong. The pair had a natural sound and similar, complementary musical tastes.

Upon returning to Canada, George called Rick, who agreed to meet George at the Lancer Pub. The rest, as they say, is history; and Bowser and Blue continue to bring smiles to faces everywhere (even if you are wearing a mask).

Bowser and Blue will be performing March 19th at Mayfair Tavern in Pointe-Claire. Tickets are $25 and available on Eventbrite and the Mayfair Tavern – 24 Valois Bay Pte Claire. Info 438-820-6936.

Hindsight, a new album from Bowser and Blue


Hindsight is available on all streaming platforms and Bowser and

George Bowser and Rick Blue did not let the lockdowns and restrictions stop them from getting creative in the only way Bowser and Blue know how– through humor.

Because of restrictions –both wrote songs and/or different parts of songs and shared files via the internet. Although the ‘next to each other’ magic may have disappeared – writing songs individually is nothing new. Bowser and Blue have always written songs separately and together. Whatever worked ended up on CDs or on stage.

Hindsight is the name of their new CD and it takes aim at the pandemic. Tackling Covid was a sensitive issue since so many have died from it. The duo wondered; at what point can you make fun of something?

Songs such as It’s a Vaccination, Superspreader Santa, In The Red Zone, The Conference Call Song and One More Day each take turns pointing the finger at the type of things people endured through the past two years.  Each tune comprised of different sounds which fit into the theme and subject of their victims’.

Santa.  A spreader of variants?  Who would have thought the big red suit was a cover for such crimes against humanity? Zoom calls with no pants?  Something most ’Zoomers’ can relate to as they shared their millions of ‘naked’ tales.

If anyone wants the pandemic to end – Bower and Blue have got that covered as well. It’s only ‘a jab’ in the arm sings George.

Bowser and Blue show no signs of slowing down lyrically or musically on the new album. Only problem is – they cannot be rewarded properly. No one recognizes them with masks on.