Guitarist Stan Endersby travelled to London, England in the spring of 1968 to visit his actor brother and to check out the city' s vibrant music scene. On his first day in London he met Kinks bass player Peter Quaife at the club, Hatchettes. Quaife was impressed by his playing (Endersby had sat in with the house band) and told him he wanted to leave The Kinks and form a new group. Endersby agreed to join this band, but when Quaife decided to postpone his departure, he spent the next 6 months jobbing around with various local groups, including Horace Faith's soul band.
In the autumn, Endersby returned to Toronto, where he provided the music to an American TV show called 'The Cube', which was produced by Jim Henson (later of the Muppets' fame) and filmed at CFTO for NBC. The studio band also included former Flying Circus and Olivus members Fisher and MacBain. When the recording ended, Endersby briefly played with the house band at the Rock Pile, but in early 1969, he received a phone call from Quaife who was ready to put the band together.
On April fool's day, Endersby and Fisher arrived in London to join Quaife and English drummer Mick Cook in the new group. Quaife's outfit was revealed to the world in a centre spread of Britain's NME magazine 2 days' later and was great surprise to the other Kinks, who were unaware of Quaife's musical plans.
After adopting the name Maple Oak (a combination of the two countries' national emblems - the Canadian Maple Leaf and the English Oak), the quartet quickly rehearsed at the Marquee before embarking on a month tour of Denmark. Returning to the UK, Cook left and was replaced by Fisher's former band mate MacBain.
Maple Oak signed a deal with Decca Records soon afterwards and began recording at West Hampstead studios (The Moody Blues were in the studio next door), but they didn't like the results and moved to De Lane Lea to complete the sessions for a 45. A lone single coupling MacBain's ''Son of A Gun' and Endersby's ''Hurt Me So Much' was completed and released the following April, by which point Quaife had left the band.
Reduced to a trio, and with Fisher providing the bass parts on the keyboards, the band continued to perform on the continent and in the UK. They were regulars at London's Roundhouse (on one occasion they played with Curved Air and Cochise).
The new line-up returned to De Lane Lea studios to record an album, which was released nearly a year later in early 1971. The record is an early example of country rock and one of (if not) the first to be made in England. It contains a number of Bruce Cockburn's early songs as well as ex-Children member Bill Hawkins' 'Frankly Stoned'.
By the time the album appeared the group had returned to Toronto, and following a final date at the Night Owl broke up. Fisher and MacBain subsequently jobbed around while Endersby went solo before playing with Rick James's Heaven & Earth. Peter Quaife, who had moved to Denmark temporarily, later moved to Belleville, Ontario where he still resides.
Thanks to Nick Warburton, contributing writer for XtremeMusician.com.