The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll

The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll

 by Bob Mersereau

Foreword by Neil Peart


What do these groups or artists have in common?

  • The artist who recorded the best-selling rock album of the 1990s
  • The top rock band from 2000-2009, as declared by Billboard magazine
  • The record holder for most consecutive weeks at #1 on the British charts
  • The singer whose debut single sold 10 million copies in 1957, at the time second only to “White Christmas”

The answer: Alanis Morrissette, Nickelback, Bryan Adams, and Paul Anka are all Canadian.

Rock ‘n’ roll was born in the United States during  the 1950s. Its popularity rapidly grew, spreading across the Atlantic to England. The Brits transformed rock, bringing it back to the States in a new form with the British Invasion. Since then, the two countries have dominated rock music headlines and histories, but what is often forgotten in these histories is the evolution of Canadian rock ‘n’ roll during the same period.

Over the years, a huge contingent of Canadian artists has made invaluable contributions to rock ‘n’ roll. The list of innovative Canadian artists is quite impressive: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Anka, Arcade Fire, The Band, Bryan Adams, Rush, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Tegan and Sara, Feist, Nickelback, and many others, not to mention the all-star producers, such as Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel), Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi), Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss), and David Foster (Michael Jackson, Celine Dion).

In The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll (May 2015, Backbeat Books, $24.99), Bob Mersereau tells this lively entertaining, and largely untold tale, presenting a streamlined, informative trip through the country’s rich history and depth of talent, from the 1950s to today. Along the way, Canadian artists who hit major stardom in the United States, the challenges and reform of the Canadian broadcasting system, the huge hits of the 1970s, Canadian artists’ presence all over the pop charts in the 1990s, and Canada’s indie-rock renaissance of the 2000s.

As Mersereau writes in his introduction, “Canadians just don’t seem to get their due in the accepted history of rock ‘n’ roll. They get left out, marginalized, or worse still, assimilated.” In The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll, all the formation stories, the background, and the trivia that may have been lost in the shuffle get their due as Mersereau tells the history of rock ‘n’ roll from a different perspective: the Canadian perspective.

May 19, 2015
Paperback Original
6″ x 9″
288 pages
Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Bob Mersereau is a producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Since 1985, he has been covering Canadian music as a regular contributor to national and local broadcasts, including his weekly East Coast Music column heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick. He has written thousands of reviews for such publications as Coast, the Globe and Mail, and The Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, New Brunswick). Mersereau is the author of The Top 100 Canadian Albums and The Top 100 Canadian Singles. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.




Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on February 10, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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