Brian Edwards made 1980 a history making year in the North American music industry.
In that year, the International Federation of Musicians authorized something it had not done in its history and Brian Edwards was the cause. The Federation licensed it’s youngest ever booking agent: Brian was 17 years of age at the time. Rocklands Talent & Management was born!
Almost immediately, Rocklands secured a Tommy Hunter date. Unbeknownenst to the a long association had just begun and is still going strong twenty-five years later.
Rocklands Talent booked the Kitty Wells Family Show on several Canadian dates. Johnny Wright (Kitty’s husband and co-star) recommended Rocklands get together with Wilf Carter. Wilf’s acceptance to tour with Rocklands put the young company on a firm foundation and began a deep personal friendship between he and Brian that flourished until the death of the legendary “Yodeling Cowboy” in 1992.
Rocklands’ “Nashville connection” also led to Canadian bookings of Hank Snow, Canada’s most famous gift to the Grand Ole Opry and the world of country music.
For a few years, the company experimented with the promoting of promising “new” acts such as “The Leahy Family” (now known as “Leahy”), but the company was being guided into what would prove to be a more secure niche. Liaisons were being solidified with “been there; done that” entertainers who commanded a loyal fan base.
Graham Townsend, who many hailed as the world’s greatest fiddler, sought Rocklands services. He and his wife, Eleanor (also a world champion fiddler) was a beneficial addition to the roster.
Another instance of a one occasion booking that produced more results than expected was that of Frank Mills, “Mr. Music Box Dancer. The EMI International recording artist became the company’s major non-country act.
In 1990, an entertainer who was in the fourteenth year of a self-imposed exile, championing the cause of equal treatment of Canadian acts by talent buyers and show promoters, Stompin’ Tom Connors, made a long awaited announcement that he intended to return to live concert touring. Brian secured the 1990 6 month, 72 date cross Canada tour, the results of which entrenched a friendship and business relationship that has become more solid which each passing year.
Increased business resulted not without recognition and reward. In 1992, Brian Edwards equalized his peerage with industry counterparts when the Canadian Country Music Association voted him “Booking Agent of the Year.”
The increased business meant an increase in Rocklands own roster. Brian persuaded John Lester, secretary-manager of the Lindsay Central Exhibition, to join the agency in 1994. Prior to that, Brian’s sister Ella played an important full-time role in the office and on-the-road. The two of them. With part time help from Brian’s local mentor, Sean Eyre and tour merchandising sales overseen by Ferne Miller combined to gain the confidence and good reputation of talent and buyer alike.
Frank Mills suggested a venture into the world of merchandise mail order to hopefully establish an identity of reliable product service to Canada and the United States. Rocklands Entertainment Inc. was the result of their decision and it has proven a successful one for both the artists and Rocklands.
The addition of attractive, well designed and maintained internet sites; www.frankmills.com and www.tommyhunter.com to their mailing list clientele by Michael Dunlop – Mykull Design has greatly increased demand for the catalog.
Performers Rocklands Talent & Management Inc. can boast a long association include the Carlton Showband, four torus headlinging Roger Whittaker, 8 tours featuring Rita MacNeil, four Charley Pride tours, and numerous shows with Mac Wiseman, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Anne Murray, The Family Brown, Anita Perras, Ian Tyson, The Walters Family, TammyWynetter, Jean Shepard, George Hamiliton !V and the Rankin Family.
Brian’s vision of a close-knit agency dedicated to the enhancement of a select roster service by a Rocklands rep at each date with increased business demanded continued growth and change.
To borrow a phrase attributed to the late country music superstar, Conway Twitty, “I believe in change. It’s the only thing I know that’s constant. When things stop changing, they die. To live and grow, things naturally change.”
Frank Hewitt became a “Rocklander” in 1991, initially in a security capacity and now as tour road manager as well as in charge of merchandise.
June 1991 proved another auspicious time in the growth and change of Rocklands. Brian met with Lawrence (Larry) Welk Jr. CEO of the Welk Group and began to plan a touring “Live” Lawrence Welk Show when the cast was not playing the Champagne Music Theatre in Branson, Missouri. The show went “on-the-road” in June 2001 and has enjoyed subsequent successful tours each year since.
In 2001, Angela Hanwell (a long-time Peterborough Credit Union employee) joined the Rocklands crew. Her effervescent personality immediately made an impression, impacting Rocklands with a vitalized imagery.
Now twenty-five years later, Brian Edwards, President and CEO of Rocklands Talent & Management Inc. can boast to head a company recognized across North America as among the top 50 promoters in the business!
Rocklands is a company bequeathed with a legendary first 25 years. It’s future holds bright promise embracing continued, thoughtful change. “Change – the only thing that is constant!”