Origin: Toronto, Ontario (Ed Roth); Belar, California, USA (Bill Ross); Toronto, Ontario (Brian Hughes); Winnipeg, Manitoba (Bobby Neilson aka Neil Merryweather)
Neil Lillie (aka Neil Merryweather) (Vocals, Bass) line up A-D
Bill Ross (Guitar) line up A-B
Brian Hughes (Bass) line up A-B
Ed Roth (Keyboards) line up A-D
Bob Ablack (Drums) line up A, C-D
Al Morrison (Drums) line up B
Wayne Davis (Bass) line up C
Jimmy Livingstone (Vocals) line up C-D
Stan Endersby (Guitar, Vocals) line up C-D
Ed Roth (b. February 16, 1947, Toronto, Canada), Bob Ablack, Bill Ross (b. Bel Air, California, US) and Brian Hughes started out playing rock instrumentals in a suburban Toronto band known as The XLs, which became Gary & The Reflections with the addition of singer Gary Muir in 1964.
In early 1965, singer Bobby Neilson (b. Robert Neilson Lillie, December 27, 1945, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) joined and the group parted with Muir. The new line up changed name to The Ookpiks (after a native-designed stuffed toy owl called Ookpik that was being promoted by the Canadian government). As another group was already using the name, the band briefly worked as The Sikusis, after another stuffed toy, but were unable to get permission from the Canadian government to use the name without compensation and settled on The Just Us.
Amid all of this confusion, the group recorded a lone single on Quality, which was issued under the names The Ookpiks, The Just Us and The Sikusis. Soon afterwards, Al Morrison replaced Bob Ablack on drums but the new line up was short-lived. In early 1966, Hughes left to dedicate his full time to school, and Ross and Morrison joined The Bossmen, who subsequently backed singer David-Clayton-Thomas.
Neilson, who now went by the name Neil Lillie, befriended ex-Mynah Birds singer Jimmy Livingstone (b. February 28, 1938, Toronto, Canada) in Long and McQuade’s music store where he worked in the backroom as an amp and guitar repairman. At the time, Livingstone was singing with a group called The Muddy Yorks but he left when Lillie asked him to join a new line up of The Just Us. To complete the new line up, the band picked up former C. J. Feeney & The Spellbinders members Stan Endersby (b. July 17, 1947, Lachine, Québec) and Wayne Davis (b. April 28, 1946, Toronto) and convinced Ablack to rejoin.
An album’s worth of material was recorded at Arc Sound during in early 1966, but disappeared with the band’s manager. The Just Us were one of the few bands that could play the clubs on Yonge Street, Toronto high schools and the Yorkville village scene.
In June 1966, Davis left to play with Bobby Kris & The Imperials and Lillie learnt bass in two weeks to fill the spot. Around this time, an American duo with the same name appeared on the charts and the group was forced to adopt a new name, The Group Therapy for one show (opening for The Byrds on June 22). Another local group laid claim to the name, so the band took on a new moniker, The Tripp, in September.
Nick Warburton is a UK freelance writer, who has written for Shindig, Record Collector, the Garage Hangover website and Richard Morton Jack’s new book, Endless Trip. Visit: http://www.nickwarburton.com
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