When one speaks of rock music and western Canada in the same sentence, there is a good chance that Kenny Shields may be the subject of that sentence. Shields was born in Nokomis, SK. in 1947. His passion for music emerged at the age of six when he entered an amateur talent show, and smoked the competition.
Upon graduation from secondary school, he moved to Saskatoon and joined that city’s premiere band – Witness Incorporated – and the professional spotlight first fell upon him. Shields’ lifelong dream started to crystalize: to entertain with music. The band would do just that, playing to dedicated audiences across western Canada. They relocated to Toronto in 1967 and won over the dubious patrons of the Yorkville clubs and The Rockpile. They opened for Cream, toured with Roy Orbison, and issued five singles including “I’ll Forget Her Tomorrow”, “Jezebel” and “Harlem Lady.”
In 1970 Shields was critically injured in an automobile accident that sidetracked him from music for several years. He made one attempt at a comeback with the Regina-based band called Mudd, but realized that although his dream was still intact, he was not yet ready to resume the touring life.
After a further period of convalescence, Shields moved to Winnipeg to join another Saskatchewan band entitled Wascana, which included in its ranks Spider Sinnaeve, Daryl Gutheil, and ex-Witness drummer Craig Kaleal. The voice was re-energized, the stamina returned, the band gelled, and after relocating to Saskatoon, they became Witness again.
While on the Alberta touring circuit, Shields struck up a friendship with the members of The Great Canadian River Race, and in 1976 when Witness finished its run, Shields moved back to Regina in the company of Paul Dean and Matt Frenette. With Spider and Daryl , the five formed the quintessential prairie powerhouse band of the late 1970s and early 1980s – Streetheart.
At their best in a live setting, Streetheart was labelled Canada’s #1 touring band for many years running. They played bars, clubs and arenas from coast to coast sharing the stage with such acts as Chilliwack, Rush, Harlequin, Styx, Max Webster, AC/DC, and April Wine.
Streetheart recorded a total of six studio albums and one double live album. They topped the Canadian charts with a non-stop string of hits including “Action”, “Hollywood”, “Under My Thumb”, “Look In Your Eyes”, “What Kind of Love Is This”, “One More Time” and “Snow White” – all tunes that remain standards on radio playlists to this day. Along the way they earned a total of six gold albums, four platinum albums, a gold single, two Ampex Golden Reel awards, a Music Express Award , a peoples’ choice voted most popular Canadian act and a Juno. And in September 2003, as befits a national institution, Kenny Shields and Streetheart were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Following three years of convalescence from major surgery in 2000, Shields career continues and his dream remains, to entertain with music. The spotlight still shines brightly.
*Represented exclusively by Canadian Classic Rock