Origin: Toronto, Ontario
Chalawa was formed in 1975 by John Forbes and Alex King. The original line up consisted of John Forbes on keyboards, Alex King guitar, Leroy Sibbles bass, Dopey Smith, drums, Mike Balm, trumpet, fluglehorn and valve trombone, and Dick Smith, tenor sax. Pete Weston sat in on funda and repeater. This is the line-up for their first album project, the classic Deepest and Darkest, recorded at Springfield Sound. Leroy Sibbles left to pursue his solo career and was replaced by John Hewson, who played on many of the earlier Stranger Cole/Callander Sisters recordings with Chalawa. Dick Smith departed, to be replaced by Greg Barns, who played sax and flute on “I’m Living” with Stranger, then by Wimpy Zankowski. This configuration recorded the albums The First Ten Years and Capture Land.
John Hewson left the band to pursue his studies, and Dopey Smith was replaced by superstar drummer Anthony (Benbow) Creary, with John Forbes playing bass and keyboards in the studio.
Micron Records producer Pete Weston convinced the band to do a dub tribute to Bob Marley’s giant album, Exodus. Exodus Dub is still being pressed and sold, now as a CD as well as vinyl.
Although he was not at all technical, Weston was a good match for the band at that time. Totally fearless, he encouraged the band to go as ‘outside’ as they could take it, with outstanding results.
Another outcome was ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ which was originally intended to be a substitute for ‘Turn Your Lights Down Low’. Produced by John Forbes and Alex King, the song was not released on Exodus Dub but as a single on EMI and affiliate labels and crossed over into the European pop charts.