Bob Ego

For those few music fans who may be unfamiliar with the name Bob Ego, his musical resume can look the length of a bestseller. For over fifty years, he has proven himself as adept on the stage as in the recording studio or teaching salon, and has contributed to a huge body of enduring Canadian music. Ego was born in Edmonton and raised in Buck Creek, AB. Largely self-taught, he started playing drums at the age of nine. Ego’s primary influences were Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck Quartet), Tony Williams (Miles Davis), Ringo Starr, and Mitch Mitchell (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience).  

He recorded his first album with local folk-rock band The Antiquators when he was but thirteen years of age. Throughout his first five years of playing he performed full time with a dizzying array of progressively more talented teenaged Edmonton bands.  

In 1969 he was recruited to join the Saskatchewan-based Witness Inc., marking his first collaboration with lead singer Kenny Shields. Featuring the cream of prairie musicians, the band developed a regional and national reputation. They played all the dance halls and rock ballrooms, as well as most of the rock festivals in the west and a few in central Canada. They performed a mix of original tunes and covers, and became a staple of the live music lovers throughout the Canadian prairies.

Ego next joined the Calgary-based band Painter, led by vocalist Dorn Beattie and guitarist (and later inventor of Q-Sound) Danny Lowe in 1971. They were signed to Elektra Records in the U.S.A. two years later, put out the massive radio hit “West Coast Woman”, followed by the eponymous LP, and became an international phenomena with releases in Canada, the U.S.A., U.K., Japan, Germany and Australia. The band moved to Seattle, showcased at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, and toured with such acts as Procol Harum, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sugar Loaf, Charlie Daniels, Black Oak Arkansas, Frank Zappa, Lee Michaels, Brian Auger, and the Five Man Electrical Band. Along the way Ego jammed with Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), and played a live concert with Frank Zappa which was broadcast over an Atlanta radio FM station.

Ego left the band just as they released their second album – by which time they had parted company with Elektra, and had taken on a new name Hammersmith.

During this period he was also a much sought after session drummer for both album recordings and television and radio commercials. In particular he was part of a regular group of session players at Edmonton’s three recording meccas -Century II Studios, Sundown Recorders, and Damon Studios, as well as Vancouver’s Mushroom Studios and Ocean Sound.

When Century II closed its doors, he returned to live performances with the renowned Edmonton band Privilege fronted by lead vocalist Mel Degen. In the two years of that line-up’s existence, they recorded an album entitled It’s Been a Privilege featuring the hit “Thumpin’ Music.”

He reunited with Shields in 1979 when he assumed the drummer’s seat in Streetheart. Ego provided the beat on four albums Quicksand Shoes, Drugstore Dancer, Streetheart, and Buried Treasure, as well as on the hits “Teenage Rage”, “Tin Soldier”, “What Kind of Love Is This?”, “Look in Your Eyes”, “Snow White”, and the superb Spider-penned instrumental “Highway Isolation.” During his tenure in the band, they won a Juno and two Ampex Golden Reel Awards, toured extensively, and shared the stage with Chilliwack, Aldo Nova, Queen City Kids, April Wine, Harlequin, Kim Mitchell, Rush, Styx, and AC/DC.

After a short time out of the spotlight, Ego decided to pursue his interest in the musical instrument retail sector. He became a key member of the Sabian Corporation management team when the manufacturers of cymbals broke into the U.S. market in the mid-80s. As head of sales and promotion as well as artist relations, he worked with some of the world’s greatest drummers such as Phil Collins (Genesis), Richie Hayward (Little Feat), Steve Ferrone (Average White Band, Eric Clapton), Jon Farriss (INXS), Chris Lamb (New York Philharmonic), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart) and Sonny Emory (Earth, Wind & Fire).

In 2003 he was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame with Streetheart and is the recipient of the 2009 Double Platinum Award from Capitol Records for the self-titled Streetheart album.  Bob Ego has played on over 100 albums and continues to perform, record and teach drums in Las Vegas.

(Brock Silversides)


                2003 Western Canadian Music Awards Hall of Fame.