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