Sylvia & Ian Tyson (Vanguard Records)
Four Strong Winds: Ian & Sylvia by John Einarson with Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson is the first ever authorized biography of the Canadian folk music pioneers and international stars. It has just been released in stores across Canada.
Author John Einarson chose an excerpt for SCENE which takes us back to late 1959. Ian had just spent the year working the folk clubs solo and with Don Francks...
Soon after this, Ian was introduced to Sylvia Fricker. "That story of her first singing to me over the phone is kind of an urban legend and not exactly how it happened," he stresses. "The guy that I worked for in the glass factory was an Englishman, a really nice guy. He was a swinger in a sophisticated way and he used to go down to the Chatham area and party. Sylvia was at one of those parties and he heard her sing. So he told me, 'You've got to hear this marvellous girl.' He got her on the phone for me and I don't remember if she sang to me over the phone, I doubt it, but I told her to come on up to Toronto. I was going to be singing at the First Floor Club and I said to her that we'd get her up to sing. She played this weird mandocello or whatever the hell it was. It wasn't like a ukulele; it was this strange-looking instrument that she played in this very unorthodox way. And she was a weird-acting girl, a real free spirit and very eccentric. She was a hippie before that term ever existed; very eccentric, from eccentric parents. There always were those kinds of ladies, it's definitely a Canadian breed, loners and distinctly outsiders. So she came up. She was nervous and she has that vibrato already but when she's nervous you could fill a diesel truck with it. But she was very nice and that's how it happened."
"This was my first performance outside of Chatham," explains Sylvia. "It was at the First Floor Club with Ian but not performing as Ian & Sylvia. Ian backed me on guitar as an accompanist but he didn't perform on his own. We might have phoned each other, I don't remember. I do remember going to Ian's girlfriend Micki Bolleto's place to rehearse and she was not happy to see me. There was nothing going on between Ian and me but she was not happy when I showed up. I was fresh out of Chatham at that point. The whole time Ian and I are talking about songs and arrangements and exchanging musical ideas she's sitting right beside him playing with his ear or draping her leg over him. Very uptight."
Sylvia's initial impressions of Ian? "Oh, I thought he was awfully good looking," she laughs. "But it was not love at first sight. I didn't think of us in terms of it becoming a relationship. I never did think that, actually. It was strictly a working relationship as far as I was concerned, because I came from a town where anyone who looked like him wouldn't have given me a second look. And he had a string of girlfriends. When I met him he was with another girl. But we got along well. There was a musical connection between Ian and me right from the start".
Hear author John Einarson on the Weekend Morning Show with host Keran Sanders from Sunday September 4.