MORRISBURG – The Cooper Brothers are Canadian country rock royalty.
They have performed with artists ranging from the Doobie Brothers and Joe Cocker, to the Allman Brothers Band and Charlie Daniels. Songs penned by Richard Cooper, including “The Dream Never Dies,” have become some of the most performed songs on radio, sung by artists from all the musical genres. Originally founded in 1974 by Brian and Dick Cooper and their long-time friend, Terry King, the band was hugely popular with fans and critics alike, winning numerous Canadian musical awards, and extensively travelling throughout North America.
The Cooper Brothers are coming to Stone Crop Acres Winery, courtesy of Harmony Concerts, for one performance only, at 3 pm on Sunday, October 2, 2022. And to add to the audience’s pleasure, Graham Greer, originally of the Bar Stool Prophets, now an exciting free-lance performer, will be opening for their show, and joining the Cooper Brothers for a couple of numbers later in the program.
I had the opportunity to talk to Dick Cooper about the Cooper Brothers extraordinary career. Among many others, Dick has written such billboard hits as “Rock and Roll Cowboys” and “I’ll Know Her When I See Her.”
“We always called The Cooper Brothers sound ‘country rock’,” he said. “It was Capricorn Records who decided to promote us as Southern Rock. The fact is, like all bands of our vintage, our music was inspired by groups like the Beatles, and, when I began writing songs, I was also influenced by performers like James Taylor and Jackson Brown.”
The Cooper Brothers are known for their great harmonies. “Groups like the Beach Boys also gave us ideas for our harmonies. One band member was really into country and we got interested in that.”
After a hugely successful performance history, in 1983, following the release of a last album, Reach for the Sky, the Cooper Brothers broke up for a time. “Our ‘break-up’ has a weird history,” Dick explained. “We weren’t feuding or mad at each other or anything like that. We split up mostly due to bad luck. Two of the labels we were signed with went bankrupt, and we just decided to part ways.”
Dick moved for a time from music into a career as a screen writer for children’s television. “But,” he said, “music was always my first love, and when we decided to re-unite (2006), I was glad to return. This time, however, the band made some decisions. We decided we were not compromising any more, no more dictates from above. Our labels, our music, would be on our own terms from now on, not some corporation’s. And since then, the Cooper Brothers have played the music we want, we have better gigs, and we produce our own records. The whole thing has been a lot of fun.”
COVID, of course, halted live performances for quite a while. “I decided that if I was going to be trapped in a basement, I was going to be productive,” Dick laughed. He devoted his time fully to song writing, both for the Cooper Brothers and for other performers including the Horojo Blues Band, for whom he wrote nine original songs. “The songs I write depend, obviously, on the artist I am writing for. Relationships. Politics. There are different tropes for blues singers, for rock, or for female artists. This can be challenging. But when it comes to the Cooper Brothers,” he laughed, “I just write whatever comes into my head.”
The band is definitely excited about the return to live performances. “We only play five or six concerts over the summer: we’re no longer ready for non-stop ‘on the road,’ like in the old days. But I think, at this point in our careers, that audiences have really missed our kind of music. We’re a big band, with seven of us on stage, not just a couple of people with guitars in a bar. And we go full bore. Ours is always a big sound, backed up by multiple instruments. And the audience gets the ‘full meal deal’ when the Cooper Brothers are on stage.”
The full band is coming to Stone Crop Acres for the concert. Also joining them on the stage will be talented singer Sherri Harding, “a great addition to the band.” The other musicians in the group are among the best artists in the business. “The least talented are probably Brian and me,” Dick added, tongue-in-cheek, “but the band can’t kick us out. We have job security.”
The Playlist for the October 2 show at the Winery will be exciting, including vintage Cooper Brothers hits, and musical selections from the Allman Brothers and other rock greats. “Graham Greer, who has worked with us before, lately at Bluesfest, is going to join us on stage for some numbers. It’s going to be a blast,” said Dick Cooper. “We have new albums coming out over the winter. The Cooper Brothers will continue singing: we love it.”