Canaan: Bob Fraser, lead singer of '70s rock band, recalls fledgling British scene

Thursday 20th March 2008

Bob Fraser, the one-time frontman of rock band CANAAN, reminisces on the formative years of British CCM

Continued from page 2

When I started out I never expected that we would be rubbing shoulders with professional musicians. In 1973, Canaan appeared at three Tear Fund concerts with Cliff Richard at large venues in Bradford, Sheffield and Coventry. Tear Fund spokesman Bill Latham said in a letter of sincere appreciation and thanks to Canaan at the time: "We felt that your music and style complemented the whole programme superbly and I know that David Bryce, Cliff's touring manager, was impressed. He is a man who doesn't throw compliments around too generously and therefore I reckon you can be encouraged!"

The following year, Canaan did a second Tear Fund tour with Cliff, this time taking in four large Scottish venues at Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth and Edinburgh and closer to home in Blackburn. I remember being really excited at the end of one of the concerts, when David Bryce asked me to submit a tape of songs. Home recording was unaffordable and I didn't have much money anyway. I produced this really naff home recording and never heard another thing from them after that!

On Saturday January 5th 1974 at The Royal Albert Hall, London, MGO organised a Start The New Year With Jesus concert. Billed as an evening of worship, involvement and commitment on the first Saturday of 1974, the line up included Malcolm & Alwyn, Aleksander John, Canaan, Dave Foster, Kevin Gould and a Swedish Choir called Choralerna. We were keen to play anywhere. We even went to Amsterdam to record a 20-minute concert set for a prime time TV programme over there. It was a great privilege to be involved in these ground breaking initiatives.

By late 1979, the increasing pressures of parenting and providing for our growing young families made it difficult for Canaan to sustain what they had been doing. I was the first one to leave the group though the band did carry on for a while.

Dave Lewis moved to East Lancashire in August 1981 with his work as a bank manager. He has remained committed to developing contemporary Christian music in the local church. Dave Lloyd has stayed in Lytham, playing bass regularly at Ansdell Baptist Church. He also formed a barn dance band called Mind The Step which played at many events in the '80s and '90s. Gus Eyre went into full time Christian work in 1976, recorded some solo cassettes and has continued to sing and speak in schools, colleges, prisons and missions up and down the country. He has also regularly visited Poland, where he and Wendy present a drugs awareness programme in schools alongside sharing the message of the Gospel. For my part, I have been involved in music ministry teams at Ansdell Baptist for eight years, and at Calvary Christian Fellowship, Preston for nine years, writing and recording many worship songs. I've also been involved in a band doing prison gigs.

Looking back I really appreciate the time Canaan had together. I learned a lot from everybody else and being part of a team was great. Visiting lots of different situations and churches gave me a wider perspective on things. There was a sense of purpose and unity within Canaan. It bound us together for almost a decade in a pioneering effort to reach a generation which the Church at large had lost contact and credibility with. We were young men wanting to change the world. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Bob Fraser
Bob Fraser is the former frontman of Christian music pioneers Canaan.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Graham H in Sussex @ 18:43 on Oct 19 2019

Just googled Canaan after finding their first album in some LPs I am sorting through. I recall it being a very radical for a of Christian music back in the day. Enjoyed the article and another memory bump was Chorelana, I think they came to my childhood church Roxeth Green Free Church, and inspired me - 43 years of playing bass and counting!

Posted by Lesley Cutts in Leicestershire @ 11:29 on Feb 26 2019

I became a Christian at one of your 'gigs'!! It was at Springfield Greenlands Methodists Church in maybe 1975? There was a guy giving his testimony who spoke about how he had found Jesus when he was in prison. Don't suppose you know his name do you? I've often wanted to tell him what an affect it had on me. Thanks for all you did all those years ago.

Posted by Kevin Gutteridge in Poland @ 08:43 on Jul 15 2017

It's great to remember Canaan.I was a bit naughty in I the past I played some of their songs at live gigs and the congrigation found them rewarding.Thank you and bless you.K.G.

Posted by Ken Whiting in Oxfordshire @ 01:07 on Jan 4 2015

Any tips on guitar playing from Gus would be welcome.

Posted by bob in south shields @ 10:25 on Dec 5 2010

hi guys.bought your albums when they first came out,i still play them and I am continually blessed by them, so much so that i would like your permission to learn and sing some of your songs at my church,so others can be reminded and blessed the same way the lord has blessed me through your music. i look forward to recieving a reply by e.mail from you. your brother in christ jesus. bob

Posted by David Smith in Hull East Yorks UK @ 11:19 on Mar 27 2010

About Gus Eyre

I am looking for a track listing for a cassette release CW8 "As The Light Is"
In particular tracks 6, 8 & 11 which i can't identify can anyone help?

Posted by Steve Smithson in Lancaster @ 07:30 on Aug 30 2009

Gosh, what a trip down memory lane! Mention of all those names brings the memories flooding back.

Posted by Peter Matthews in Coventry @ 19:01 on Aug 26 2009

Good to hear the history. Brings back good memories of University at the time. I remember the LP and would like to buy a copy, vinyl or CD. Still have some faith, but the clarity seems to have gone!

Posted by JOHN LYON in KNARESBOROUGH NORTH YORKS @ 22:14 on Aug 25 2009

Also would like a cd copy. i recorded my vinyl onto tape but not a good copy. I knew Gus Eyre - he was influential in my early years as a christian - a humble man - very talented musician who has been instrumental in bringing many to Christ.
To follow on from Richard Mansur's email - I've got a pair of muskin shoes, I aren't got much money but I sure like sing the blues.

Posted by Jeff Loomis in Northfield, MA USA @ 17:52 on Jul 3 2009

Am a huge fan of the first Canaan lp. My scratchy vinyl is barely playable. Any cd release planned? I've pined for that for YEARS!

Reply by David @ 08:21 on Feb 9 2010

Yes check out the aincent star song website you can download both canaan albums there

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