Canadian Song Writers Hall of Fame
Year of Induction: 2023
Origin: Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia has produced no end of iconic songwriters, from country music legend Hank Snow to folk roots and pop artists Rita MacNeil, Denny Doherty, Jimmy Rankin, and Sarah McLachlan. The Bluenose province can also boast its contribution to rock, through Myles Goodwyn, principal songwriter of April Wine. Goodwyn has been called “unequivocally Canada’s greatest rock and roll songwriter.” Born in June 1948 in Woodstock, Nova Scotia, he was the oldest of three boys in a family of modest means. As a child he absorbed the country styles of Eddy Arnold, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams, and later early rock and roll. At age eleven he lost his mother to cancer and turned to music, learning Hank Snow’s songs on guitar and singing in his church choir. “Music was my salvation,” he remembered in his popular 2016 memoir, Just Between You and Me.
In 1969, searching for a fresh sound, Goodwyn and his long-time friend, Jim Henman, plus the latter’s cousins David and Ritchie Henman formed April Wine. Goodwyn explained, “The decision to go entirely original happened . . . when they heard me play a riff of a song I was working on. . . . they were floored by how heavy it rocked, and that was the inspiration for the declaration by all of us that we would, henceforth, be a 100 per cent original group.”
Six months later, on April 1, 1970, April Wine left Nova Scotia for Montréal, where they signed a recording deal with Aquarius Records. Their first album was released in 1971, which included their first single, the Goodwyn-written rocker Fast Train. It was a hit. In no time, April Wine became Aquarius’s top act and a highly popular touring band, playing in small and large cities across Canada. Goodwyn told the National Music Centre: “We were playing small places, anywhere, on the strength of the first album…. People were being bussed in from everywhere around to see the shows.”
April Wine became a multiple platinum-selling phenomenon, selling over 10 million records with Goodwyn-penned classics like Roller, I Wouldn’t Want to Lose Your Love, and I Like to Rock. Their album “The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy” became the first Canadian album to sell over 100,000 copies.
April Wine’s top moments included opening for Stevie Wonder at the Montréal Forum in 1973; playing with the Rolling Stones at Toronto’s El Mocambo in 1977; and recording before a sold-out audience in 1981 for their “Live in London” album, recorded in London, England. And Goodwyn’s Enough is Enough was the first Canadian song aired on MTV.
April Wine members came and went over the years, with Goodwyn remaining as the only original member. After releasing 22 studio and two live albums, they disbanded in 1984. In 1993 the re-banded April Wine resumed touring, once again selling out shows continent-wide.
In March 2009, April Wine was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and received the JUNO Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Goodwyn and April Wine were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. They can also boast two Félix awards and several SOCAN Classic awards.
Goodwyn’s songs—in styles from edgy rock to romantic ballads, from country to blues—reveal variety and depth springing from a boundless well of talent. His subject matter is wide-ranging, encompassing piano classics such as Comin’ Right Down on Top of Me, Like a Lover, Like a Song and I Wouldn’t Want to Lose Your Love, the environmental song Lady Run, Lady Hide, and songs about the music business such as Rock N’ Roll Is a Vicious Game, Electric Jewels and Face the Storm. Nor is he afraid to tackle political topics: listen to Blood Money (the scandalous Clifford Olson payoff) and Some of These Children (unmarked residential school graves).
He is a hard-working master of his craft: “I worked diligently and tenaciously on becoming a good, consistent songwriter. To me it is the most important part of what I do. Always has been.”
Goodwyn’s musical achievements earned him the East Coast Music Lifetime Achievement Award and SOCAN’s National Achievement Award, for which he whole-heartedly acknowledges his bandmates’ contributions: “I know I was lucky to have this band to interpret my songs and to help make them as good as they could be by giving of their talents, unselfishly, time after time. I owe them much, and I hope they know that.”
Goodwyn also recorded two blues albums in 2018 and in 2019, garnished a JUNO nomination for Blues Album of the Year (2019) and won two ECMA Awards for Blues Album of the Year, back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. And he gives back to his community by supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada since 2003 and as co-founder of Soleful Caring . . . Shoes for the Homeless, collecting and distributing “gently used” footwear for men and women, coast-to-coast in Canada. In 2022, Goodwyn released “For Ukraine,” which was written in support of the citizens of war-torn Ukraine. The song won him the SIFA award for Best Social Impact Music/Art 2022.
Goodwyn gave his final live performance with April Wine on March 2, 2023. But that doesn’t mean he’ll rest on his laurels: He will continue writing and producing for April Wine as the band will continue to tour with his artistic involvement, and his third blues recording will be released in the summer of 2023.
May 2, 2023 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame