Origin: Toronto, Ontario
LITTLE LADY OF TORONTO
THE STORY OF PAT HERVEY
Pat Hervey was born in Toronto February 20th 1943. From an early age, it was clear that she was a very petite girl. What she lacked in size she made up for in vocal power however; sounding somewhat like Brenda Lee.
From the age of 3 or 4, Pat had been learning to sing; mostly trying to imitate her mother around the house but soon began mimicking records she heard as well. Her talents grew as to did her age.
Pat sang as a hobby throughout her youth and teen years. Her parents encouraged her growth and by the time she was 8 or 9, she began appearing in public; usually in the choirs at school and church while attending Eglington Ave. Public School. Around age 13 shortly after starting high school at R.H. King Collegiate in Scarborough, she’d team up with another girl attending.
They both played guitar and sang, donning an Everly Brothers styled act. Their reputation grew and they became in demand at school dances, parties and other organized events. This led to a performance at an amateur Rock & Roll show which was emceed by popular Toronto DJ Al Boliska. He was impressed with Pat specifically and offered to manage her as a solo artist. Not wanting to abandon her popular act and her friend, she declined. Al being so so impressed and not wanting to take no for an answer, arranged a meeting for her with CBC Television.
Pat got the call and then only 16, made the tough decision to leave her partner and go solo. She was signed to a deal with CBC Television; appearing on "Club Six (September 1961-April 1962)", "Country Hoedown", "Music Hop", "Parade", "While We're Young (Summer 1960 & 1961)", and "Holiday Ranch (From Feb-May 1961);” among other shows over the years. Her popularity was growing and someone really took notice of her talents; local producer label founder, and “Club Six” musical director Art Snider.
Art convinced her to sign with his newly founded Chateau Records imprint. She was flown to Nashville to record some sides in spring of 1962 with Chet Atkins producing. Her first single was “Lonesome Trail/Stormy Weather” released in May. The single had minor success locally but failed to chart elsewhere. The follow-up would be her breakout hit! “Mister Heartache/First Thing Tomorrow” was released in June 1962 and it climbed to #14 on CHUM in Toronto, #9 on CJCA in Edmonton, # 7 on CFRA in Ottawa, #4 on CFAC in Calgary and on CFUN in Vancouver. The song catapulted Pat into the spotlight. At the time, she was one of Canada’s first successful female singers.
Both sides of “Mister Heartache/First Thing Tomorrow” were written by Les Pouliot. This name was a pseudonym used by Les Shea who was part of the Red & Les Trio (along with his brother Red Shea and Bill Gibbs). Les Shea under this pseudonym became a prolific songwriter in the early Canadian rock/rockabilly scene. He’d write songs for The Mercey Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot (with Two Tones and solo) Bill Cothren, Danny Coughlan, Cloda Rogers, The Rhythm Rockers and many more.
Mister Heartache received a “Talent Pick” for Pat Hervey in Billboard and stayed on the Toronto CHUM chart for 12 weeks. This was an amazing feat and it had Art Snider excited to put out the last of the Nashville singles. “A Mother’s Love/Heaven For Awhile” was released on November 10th 1962; The latter song peaked at #23 in Vancouver. The single would have moderate success locally having both sides crack the top 40 on the CHUM charts.
With her continued television exposure and touring in support of her hit singles, Pat was busier than ever! Chet Atkins took notice and helped her secure a recording contract with RCA Victor in December 1962. Atkins would produce several more singles for Pat to be released in 1963. First out of the gate in January was “Tears Of Misery/Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” It was a hit record across Canada, peaking at #11 on the CHUM chart (staying on the chart for three months) and even higher in some other cities like Calgary where it rose to #2.
Pat’s success continued as 1963 wore on. Tears of Misery won Pat a “Spotlight Pick” in Billboard, further helping build her image in the U.S. RCA would put out another single in April 1963 with “I Wouldn’t Blame You/A Mother’s Love,” (B-Side rereleased) trying to help further build on this attention. The single had minor chart successes in Canada but failed to chart in America.
Her final single of the bunch recorded with Chet Atkins in December 1962 was “It’s Love That Counts/Walkin’ In Bonnie’s Footsteps.” Released the following December, this single was her first working with Canadian songwriter Al Rain.
Al would become known to the world in later years as Canada's top purveyor of "Northern Soul," but would never get his proper due in his years of action. He's wrote singles for The Allan Sisters, Pat Hervey, Bev Marie, (2 of the 3 singles by) The Tiaras, Grant Smith & The Power, and many others.
“It’s Love That Counts/Walkin’ In Bonnie’s Footsteps.” Had minor chart success and the early months of 1964 saw Pat touring and appearing on TV to support it. Her numerous successful singles resulted in her winning Top Country Female Award For 1964. In August of that year, Art Snider would get her to sign with his newly founded ACT (All Canadian Talent) label.
After watching the minor success of “I Wouldn’t Blame You/A Mother’s Love,” Art frustratingly came to the conclusion that the single may have performed better if it were not for the current "Beatlemania" craze ravaging the world. The explosion of the British music market worldwide, with other groups like The Rolling Stones, The Zombies, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermit's The Animals and so many others as a result, gave Art the idea to bring Pat Hervey along with the newly signed Allan Sisters to the UK to record a number of singles. With the 3 girls in tow, they'd jet off to England in October to record twelve songs in a three-hour span, making them the first Canadians to record there.
Upon their arrival back in Canada in early November, a press statement was made regarding the newly recorded material. On November 30th another statement came out announcing that "Mr. Special/Wherever You Are" had hit store shelves. The single performed well across Canada, charting in multiple markets. The follow-up on the label, Pat Hervey's "Think About Me/I'll Count Every Hour," released on December 21st 1964, also performed well on the charts.
1965 held a lot of change for Pat Hervey, The Allan Sisters and Art Snider. Pat had a #3 hit with “I’ll Count Every Hour,” which had been steadily climbing the Country music chart’s since it’s late December release. The Allan Sisters were readying their next single and still riding high on the success of “Mr. Special/Wherever You Are.” Art however was working on a deal to combine ACT with Stan Klees' Tamarac label and Duff Roman's Mostoway Productions to form Red Leaf Records. This would serve as a place to release most of the remaining 6-8 singles recorded by Pat Hervey and The Allan Sisters. With the unified release and distribution methods, many of these singles would go on to see national chart success.
Pat’s versatility as a singer never made itself more apparent than in 1965. Her T.V. work over the past five years in a number of musical environments helped her develop quite the repertoire. Chet Atkins wanted to put this repertoire to good use on her debut album. Released in mid-1965, the bulk of this album was recorded in 1964 and featured no previously released material which was daring for the time in Canada. Again travelling to Nashville to work with Chet Atkins, she was backed by some of the finest musicians money could buy.
Unfortunately for Pat, the album had no hits and went more or less unnoticed. Her two singles for Red Leaf “He Belongs To Yesterday/Don’t You Make A Fool Of Me” and “You Don’t Know Him/Ain’t A Girl Allowed To Cry” didn’t fare much better that year either. It truly is a shame because they represent some stand-out material in her catalogue. Fortunately the Red Leaf singles fared well enough locally, that 1966 would hold one more single for Pat. One more before her career would take a brief detour.
Representing the strain put on her from her recent failures back in Canada, her 1966 offering would not be released on a Canadian label at all. There was enough interest in Pat’s earlier hits, back in the UK however, to allow Art Snider to negotiate a limited release on UK based President Records, of some tracks recorded in late 1965 in New York. “Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind/Givin’ In” was released in 1966 in the UK and Canada and had little success. Sort of a last nail in the coffin for Pat, who was growing frustrated with her lack of recent success.
The next few years saw Pat take a break, eventually packing up and moving to Vancouver in early 1969. This she said was a retirement of sorts, wanting to settle down and start a family. This didn’t last long as 1970 would see her get her own summer T.V. show and CBC also courted back into the studio to record an album in 1971.
The album was exclusively covers and featured some truly stand out performances; such as her version of Scarborough Fair and Any Day Now. The album was released by RCA Camden and CBC Radio. Unfortunately it failed to have much real success.
She’d briefly reconvene with Art Snider and Al Rain for a one-off single for AME Records that year as well. “The Land I Dream Of/Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind” was released in September 1971 but unfortunately failed to have much success. Both sides were recorded at the 1965 New York sessions; backed by The Tiaras. “The Land I Dream Of” remained unreleased until 1971 which is a shame. One can’t help thinking it would have been a hit if it had been released in 1966.
1972 would see the CBC come calling again; wanting Pat to record for their LM series. The LM series was manufactured for use at subscribing CBC radio stations and were not meant for public purchase. This meant that roughly 250 were pressed initially and they were expected to be destroyed upon their expiration date (usually 1-2 years). Many performances for this series feature exclusive performances and top quality musicianship, which means that any copies that do enter public circulation fetch top dollar.
Pat recorded a pair of singles in 1972. LM-127 featured “Where You Lead (Carole King)/Bidin’ Time (Gene MacLellan),” while LM-128 featured “Window Pane (Mark Shekter)/You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King).”
The next year or so was be fairly uneventful for Pat, playing around Vancouver in a limited capacity and appearing on a few CBC T.V. programs. They again wanted to have her record for the LM series; this time an EP! 1974 would see her final vinyl release with LM-270, a 4-song EP featuring “Sing (Joe Raposo), A Song For You (Leon Russell), Killing Me Softly (Gimbel Fox) and Summer Breeze (Seals & Croft).”
She’d officially settle around this time and would retire from music sporadically over the years. She married renowned Canadian jazz guitarist Oliver Gannon and resided in British Columbia, where they had a 4 piece group and perform as The Oliver Gannon/Patty Hervey Quartet. She focused her career on jazz, singing and playing bass in Vancouver's best jazz venues.
Pat Hervey deserves to be more than a foot note in Canadian music. Her youthful spunk and impassioned voice were a match made in heaven; allowing her to become one of Canada’s earliest female pop stars. She was a teen sensation, who matured into a lovely young woman whose capability for more adult material, allowed her release music for well over a decade. 2 albums, 12 singles and an EP represent her recorded output and it’s unfortunate that only 2 or 3 songs have been officially been released on CD. She proved to be a vocalist & musician capable of any genre and creating a lifetime of great music.
WRITTEN & RESEARCHED BY AARON LUSCH
Museum of Canadian Music Musée de la Musique Canadienne Calgary Vinyl Music Museum Canada Museum of Recorded Sound Canada Music Museum Calgary Music Museum