TORONTO-SRO Productions, headed by Ray Daniels and Vic Wilson, which started primarily as an artist management company, has extended its boundaries to encompass concert promotion, record production and publishing. Daniels' background was mainly in management and booking whereas Wilson began as a musician playing in such bands as Little Diane and the Starlites, Father, the Midnights, Little Caesar and the Consuls, a 10-piece progressive rock band in England and then, finally, Downchild Blues Band before he dropped saxophone to become a booking agent.
Remembers Wilson: "I got together with Daniels in September of 1972 and we formed the management company. We started to branch out as the opportunities arose and soon we had set up two publishing companies: Brandy Publishing (BMI) and Core Publishing (CAPAC) and two record labels: Moon Records and Taurus Records which we signed to London Records in Canada for distribution."
The initial release for Taurus Records was a single by Flag which did badly, then a single by Rush on Moon Records called "Not Fade Away," which fared almost as badly. As Rush showed more and more promise in live performance, Daniels and Wilson decided to take the band into the studio and produce an album with them. Part of the album was recorded at Eastern Sound in early 1973 and in November of the same year they went over to Toronto Sound to re-record some of it and totally remix it. When the album carne out in Canada, Daniels flew to New York to get a U.S. booking agency to handle them. Ira Blacker, then with American Talent International, heard the album, signed them, and forwarded a copy of the album to Mercury Records.
Says Wilson: "Our first contact with Mercury came one or two weeks before we made the deal with them. Every major record company in the U.S. was interested in the band, The first one to give a firm offer was Casablanca but Mercury heard about it and came back to us with an offer of their own. Columbia/Epic also made a bid but we weren't interested. We liked the idea of signing with Mercury because of their background and track record with Canadian act. Bachman Turner Overdrive."
"Cleveland turned out to be the breakout market for the album," points out Wilson. "Bob Roper from A&M Records in Canada had sent a copy of the album to Donna Halper at WMMS-FM in Cleveland who loved it and within a week we were in the top ten most requested album list of the station. Because of the play there, we exported records to the Record Revolution just outside of Cleveland who moved a few hundred records for us before the Mercury deal came up. In the first week with Mercury we sold about 4,000 copies."
The album which is moving up the Billboard Top LP chart has just been released in Germany on the Phonogram label. A single entitled "Finding My Way" has been taken from the album, edited down from five and a half minutes to two and a half minutes by Terry Brown of Toronto Sound. The band will be recording a second album with Brown shortly. After Rush's current North American tour they will leave at the beginning of the New Year for a European tour.
SRO took the plunge into concert promotion in a big way at the beginning of the summer with an expansion in both the number of concerts presented by the company and an addition of personnel. Richard Flohil, a promoter as well as editor of the Canadian Composer and co-manager of the Downchild Blues Band, was hired to handle publicity and public relations for the company. In recent months SRO has presented such acts as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Amazing Kreskin, George Carlin, Canned Heat, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Nazareth, Rush, Climax Blues Band and Hudson Ford in such Ontario venues as Massey Hall, Toronto; Minkler Auditorium. Seneca College, Toronto; Convocation Hall, University of Toronto; and a few places outside of the Toronto area.