MEL WEST & THE METEORS
Rock & Roll from Regina, Saskatchewan
(Top L-R) Jim McLennan - lead guitar, Harvey Frasz (drums)
Mel West (bass guitar, vocals), Bob Edwards (keyboards), Bruce Molleken (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)
family of 5 brothers and 3 sisters, I started playing guitar around the age of 5 years old.
Super Oldies asked Mel for some info on his career and the group:
"The youngest of a musical
Being raised and living on a small farm, there wasn’t very much to do after chores, but sit around in the evenings and play and sing. In those days there was no television and the battery-operated radio was on only for things like news and weather reports. Also, while attending school, I started performing at concerts and soon joined a local trio playing for weddings and social dances.
In 1954, a Regina based band called the “Happy Roamin’ Rangers”, a country and old time group, were in need of a steel guitarist, so I went and bought a steel guitar and joined the group. It took a lot of practice to learn the “steel” but with many hours on it, things began to come around. Eventually, I ended up doing some lead guitar work and vocals.
The group toured the province doing a lot of one nighters. When television hit the area, we started doing live weekly shows on a couple of stations in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton and in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In addition, we also did many radio shows in whatever area we were in and the group also cut 3 singles and one LP.
1959: Mel West, Al Almassy, Jim Roberts, Roger Henderson, Dick Davis, Bruce Molleken
, I decided to form my own 6-piece group, later named “ The Meteors”, and that lasted a little less than 2 years of one nighters of which many of those were disasters. A lot of the jobs we played were flops as hardly any people would show up, and working on a percentage of the gate was not very profitable after having to pay wages, car expenses. The end came quickly, but it was a good experience.
In late 1960, I was hired by Gene Dlouhy and his big band as a bass and lead guitar man, touring the mid-west United States and western Canada, playing the big band sounds which was a great learning experience for me.
After almost 2 years with Gene Dlouhy, I decided to get out of the music business and stick around home and help my wife Betty raise our 2 boys, Billy and Wade.
Betty and I were married in 1956 and she was always very supportive of my musical pursuit. Betty, along with a friend even formed a “Meteors” fan club. Sadly, we lost her to cancer in 1982.
During 1962-63, I drove truck for Mayflower Van Lines, (yesiree) I was a truck driver, not as famous as some truck driver/entertainers, but soon the music urge was there again.
In 1964, I decided to re-form “The Meteors” after going through a few musicians doing weekends. I was almost ready to pack it in, as the sound just wasn’t there. Then came along lead guitarist/vocalist Jimmy McLennan, then things started to happen. Jimmy was great in putting things together, arrangements, chords etc. This was a great help. Soon came keyboardist, Bobby Brownridge and drummer Billy Wright and then things really started to gel.
For about 2 years of one-nighters,
radio and television and much better than before, Bob and Billy decided to
pursue other careers. I thought “Oh no, here I go again”. Jimmy and Bruce
were still in the group. I put out the word and luckily along came Bobby
Edwards, keyboard/vocals and drummer Harvey Frasz, both formerly with the “Checker
Lads” and that was THE KEY to the whole thing.
C.K.O.S.-TV in Yorkton, Sask.,1969
From then on it was the road, night clubs, television and recordings. The first nite club was “The Tiki Room” at the Regina Inn, booked for 1 week and held over for 6. Harvey decided to leave the group a couple of years later, but I guess lady luck was with us as a good friend of Jimmy’s drummer Dave Black came upon the scene joining the group, not only providing solid percussion but also had a good comedy routine.
The Meteors toured western Canada and the mid west United States. In 1966-69 we recorded singles in Regina at Earl Brown's recording studio and released singles for his “Soundaround" label and a second 45 on the "Red Leaf Label", such as:
Sad And Blue / When You Hear Me Knocking
Seventh Saint / Marilyn
Jingle Bells / Silent Night - released under the alias "Chamber Of Commerce - North Pole, Canada"
Saskatchewan / The Banana Boat Song
LP - What A Wonderful World
Just a few weeks after releasing "Mel West & The Meteors" on CD, Super Oldies was
saddened to learn that Mel passed away on July 6, 2014 at his home in Regina.
I was pleased that he had the chance to see that his music and information about his career was being preserved.
Keyboardist Bob Bucholz passed away December 27, 2017, age 67.
Guitarist Jim McLennan passed away April 17, 2020, age 74.
Lead vocalist Bruce Molleken passed away June 30, 2020 at the age of 82.
Bruce Molleken, Jim McLennan, Bobby
Edwards, Mel West, Dave Black (drums)
(L-R) Approx. 1968