54.40 (1980-present): a Rock band from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada.
igh school buddies Neil Osborne (vocals/rhythm guitar/lead guitar), Brad Merrit (bass) would re-unite after college with Ian Franey (drums) to play their first gig in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada on December 8, 1980, the night John Lennon was killed. That same year, they made their first recordings for the 'Mo-Da-Mu' label, with four tracks appearing on the independent compilation, Things Are Still Coming Ashore.
Soon after the release of their debut EP, Selection (1982), Franey left, and was replaced by Darryl Neudorf; Phil Comparelli was added on guitar, trumpet and vocals.
After the release of Set the Fire (1984), 1985 would find Neudorf, frustrated with the band's prolonged time in the studio and not on the road, left the band; he was replaced by Matt Johnson.
The self-titled second album (1986) via 'Warner/Reprise Records', began to attract attention from radio and record buyers across Canada on the strength of the singles Baby Ran and I Go Blind. Dave Osborne (keyboards, harmonica), would join the band for recording and touring from 1987 to 1993.
The band's breakthrough came with their third album, Show Me, but only in Canada, with the hits One Day in Your Life and One Gun. This effort gained college radio play in the US but nothing mainstream by the time 'Warner' dropped them in 1990.
After the compilation album, Sweeter Things (1991). The band then signed a long-term deal with 'Sony' to release Dear Dear (1992). The album was their first to be certified platinum in Canada, as with Smilin' Buddha Cabaret (1994) and Trusted by Millions (1996).
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I Go Blind would be re-hashed in the mid-1990s by American band Hootie and the Blowfish to major success, and was featured on the first soundtrack to the TV series Friends. The track also appears on two compilations released by the band: 2000's Scattered, Smothered and Covered and 2003's The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish (1993 Thru 2003). Royalties from the Hootie and the Blowfish cover enabled 54-40 to build their own recording studio in Vancouver.
Dave Genn, formerly of Matthew Good Band, joined 54-40 in 2003. In February 2005, Comparelli left due to personal reasons. The band's line-up would then remain stable for the releases of Since When (1998), Casual Viewin' (2000), Goodbye Flatland (2003), Yes to Everything (2005), Northern Soul (2008), Lost in the City (2011) and Keep on Walking (2018).
Footnote: The band took their name from the slogan "54-40 or Fight!", a term coined to express the unsuccessful expansionist agenda of James Knox Polk's presidency in the USA, which was intent upon controlling a contested U.S.-Canada border area in the Oregon boundary dispute of the 1800's.
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