Bob Calls and the Beat Boys. Anybody ever heard of them? No? Probably only two people in the world have heard of them: my cousin Ken Volke and I.
Bob Calls was an imaginary rock star I made up. I drew fake album covers with imaginary producers, record companies and band members. Each album became more elaborate and colourful. I would take two pieces of drawing paper, staple them together with an opening at one end and insert a cardboard "record" inside. The front covers originally were drawn in pencil, but later I coloured them with pencil crayons. There was even an album that reflected Bob Calls' "Sgt. Pepper" phase with him and the Beat Boys standing in a row wearing military uniforms.
I started doing this at around age nine. As a fan of music I already had records by Elvis, the Beatles, the Monkees, Dean Martin and Buck Owens. I kept a Monkees/Beatles scrapbook.
I now had the means to give vent to my imagination. My drawing skills were such that I could draw my imaginary rock star and picture what he sounded like. Since I wasn't a rock star, this was the next best thing.
According to the biography that I started to write about Bob, his first band was the Belvederes. He was based in Toronto and his first records were on Capitol. As my ability to draw grew so did my renditions of him. I played with his hair. Gave him a beard, then shaved it off and left him with a moustache. Clearly I was paying attention to the many "looks" of the Beatles and reflecting that in my creations.
So much of what my imaginary characters did was based on what I was actually listening to at the time. Abbey Road looms large. My first 45 rpm record was Get Back. Come Together came later. The Beatles were magic to me at the time - 1969.
As I was unable to create my own musical magic (I guess that came a little later), I did the next best thing. I created an imaginary alter-ego. Bob Calls was me. Hmmm, was I a weird kid? Maybe, but I had a lot of fun being me.
Check out the photo section of my website for a picture of a Bob Calls and the Beat Boys album, created circa 1969 when I was eleven years old.