My first experience with music was piano lessons which didn’t last more than three years. In high school, I played the trumpet in the school band. While living in Ottawa, a group of older students put a “grease band” together and called themselves Boppin’ Johnny and the Slippery Eels. They sang the song "Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll" which was a medley of hits from the '50s. The year was 1969, Sha Na Na had performed at Woodstock and Richard Nader held his first rock and roll revival concert in New York City. In 1973, the movie American Graffiti came out with a sound track of music from the '50s and '60s. Sha Na Na performed on In Concert and The Midnight Special.
When I am not with the Elegants, I run my own insurance office in Port Credit. Please call me for a quote at 905-274-6131 whether it be for life insurance, critical illness insurance, disability insurance, travel insurance (including Visitors-to-Canada), annuities, RRIFs and health and dental plans.
I've been a professional singer and musician ever since I was 7. From the synagogue choir to high school jazz ensembles, I always knew I was genetically inclined to be a performer! I've always had a thing for rock 'n' roll oldies, jazz (especially Miles Davis), funk (P-Funk, baby!), and R & B. I formed an acapella quartet when I was 17 called The Simple Tones and we performed for a school concert in the spring, singing "For The Longest Time" by Billy Joel. (Not exactly '50s material, but it's the same style!) Who knew that after my teachers encouraged the boys and me to continue our music that it would lead to us performing everywhere in the city, on TV and radio, in the U.S. and even overseas for over a decade? I went on to earn two degrees from York University which led to my current career as a music teacher, which I still enjoy.
The reason I like performing with the Elegants is because the music mirrors what I did with my own quartet for years. Having experience with four-part harmony has certainly helped me contribute to the band in a positive way. Mostly, I think the music of the '50s and '60s is timeless, so much simpler and from the heart. I'm honoured that the older gents in the band have taken a young whippersnapper like me under their wings!
I've been singing for as long as I can remember. My mother, who sang country and western music, got me involved in small, local productions singing a wide variety of music - country, folk music, songs from musicals, etc. I was always the first to sign up for my school choirs and plays. When I was 12 years old, my parents bought me a radio kit - one you put together yourself. When complete, I strung the antenna to a tree outside my bedroom window. When I turned it on, I discovered that it was able to bring in only one radio station. That station was Toronto-based 1050 CHUM. My life changed forever!!! A whole new world of music opened up to me, that being the rock and roll from the '50s and '60s. The harmonies and style of music known as doo-wop are my favourites.
Barely out of my teens, I became involved in barbershop harmony and sang in several choruses and quartets for over 30 years. A proud moment came in the mid 1990s, when the chorus I sang in, The Toronto Northern Lights, competed with the world’s best barbershop choruses at an international convention, and finished second!
One day in 2010, I decided it was time to try to find or create a band dedicated to singing the music of the '50s and '60s, where my heart is. I placed a post on a musician's website, and a few days later, a response came from the leader of Little Peter and the Elegants. I now consider myself very lucky, to sing the music that is closest to my heart, for others to enjoy as I do. I am most influenced by the harmonies of The Beach Boys, Dion and the Belmonts, The Everly Brothers, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, to name a few. I'm home!!
Bass and Vocals
My life and interests both in and outside of music have been, to say the least, eclectic. Classically trained on tuba, I started playing bass at age 13 and embarked on a professional career at 19. I toured with the legendary Bo Diddley and have been a sideman with the likes of Jerome Godboo, Tony Springer, Greg Godovitz, Earl Johnson of Moxy, Chuck Jackson of The Downchild Blues Band and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies.
Commercial pilot, teacher, ski instructor, and sound editor are other hats I've worn on my journey. I hold degrees from both York University and the University of Toronto. Being a self-professed ski bum has added "muscle" to my playing style and peace to my soul.
I was born and raised in the west end of Toronto. Growing up, I remember hearing the twangy guitar of Duane Eddy on the radio. I think this was why I wanted to get a guitar. My first guitar was an acoustic Stella student model which I received for Christmas. Back then, I didn't know anyone else who played guitar or even owned one. I started taking lessons at a local music store and began trying to play some of the songs that I heard on the radio like Rebel Rouser, Cannonball and other Duane Eddy instrumental hits. These were easy melodies for a new player to copy. I later became a rhythm player in a band that covered most of the early Rolling Stones tunes (before the Stones became a pop band). Sometime later, after we disbanded, I got together with some friends and formed a five-piece band. We had a second guitarist who doubled on the organ which allowed us to play a much broader range of material than with just two guitars. We played songs like Knock on Wood, Hold On, I’m Comin' and Shotgun. Although I never tried to emulate him, one of my favorite guitar players at that time was Domenic Troiano.Since then, I've been a guitarist in a number of bands over the years playing different kinds of music including rock, blues, R & B, country and even a little jazz. While playing country and country rock, I took up the pedal steel guitar and continued playing it for many years. I enjoy a wide variety music. Some of my favorite musicians are: Jimmy Bruno, Wes Montgomery, Robin Nolan, Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, Danny Gatton, Buddy Emmons, Joshua Breakstone, Chet Atkins and Nokie Edwards, to name but a few. Playing with Little Peter and the Elegants and having five lead singers in the band opens up a lot of possibilities for us musically. Not only can we cover a wide range of tunes based on the singers individual styles, but the ability to sing together and harmonize allows us to cover the songs that were recorded by the doo-wop groups of that era. Also, having an eight-piece band gives us enough musicians to duplicate the instrumentation of the original recordings. As a result, we can play everything from The Platters to The Beach Boys.
Drums and Vocals
I was 5 years old when I started playing drums. I joined my first band, Electric Express at the age of 11 and won first place at the conservatory of music provincial finals with the debut of our original song, "What A Song Should Be".
Over the past 30 years, I have played with numerous bands including Electric Express, The Continental Dance Band, Toxic Jazz, Built for Speed, The Jacq Hammond Band, J J & The Rhythm Kings, One Touch, and Little Peter and the Elegants. The music styles from each band varied from international flavours, jump blues/swing, originals, top of the charts and rock ‘n' roll.
I am thankful to play with excellent, dedicated and talented musicians with Little Peter and the Elegants. I believe I have found a place to call home.
I was born with music in my blood, the love to play and share the joys of music with all ages, hopefully generating happiness in all who wish to listen. With great luck and encouragement, my two young boys will continue in my footsteps.
Saxophone and Vocals
My first instrument was piano – although it didn’t last long! I remember being inspired hearing the Jr. High Jazz Band play at my school and when it was time to join the school band program at age 11, I picked up the saxophone and I never looked back. Once I discovered that improvisation was a key component in Jazz and an art form that could be practiced and pursued, I knew that I needed music to be the guiding light in my life’s pursuits. Throughout my youth I had serious interests in so many styles of music and wanted to play “everything a saxophone could be found in.” From Jazz to Funk, and from Classic Rock to Salsa.
I completed my Bachelor of Music (Jazz Studies) from Humber College and Master of Music (Jazz Performance) from University of Toronto, and have been a freelance musician in Toronto and GTA for the past 15 years. I still love to perform so many styles of music and have worked with the likes of Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Shaw Festival Theatre, NOJO, Jane Bunnett, Jack De Keyzer, Toronto Jazz Orchestra, children’s entertainer Fred Penner, and celebrity actor/performer Hugh Jackman.
My introduction to music of the 50’s and 60’s came from listening to the Golden Oldies station in car rides with my father when I was young, and performing with Little Peter and the Elegants allows my “Rock n’ Roll” side to come out! When I’m not performing, I am actively involved in music education as a private lesson instructor and clinician and continue to guide and inspire students for the next generation of musicians and music lovers.
MEET THE BAND
Little Peter and the Elegants made its debut in 1973 at the Port Credit Secondary School Christmas assembly. We performed I Wonder Why, Yakety Yak and Rock Around the Clock. The audience asked for an encore but we didn’t know a 4th song! In 1974, Happy Days made its debut on television and LP&E played two school dances and a concert. Check out the posters from these dances on this web site under MEMORY LANE! The band re-united with the original members for the 70th Reunion at PCSS in 1990 and again in 1995 with most of the original members. Today, Peter Toller is the only original member, and considers it a privilege to have such fine musicians in the band today.