Even though it’s a catchy moniker, John Power is not a household name you might recognize. But the chances are pretty good many of us have seen or heard his work at least once in our lives. He’s been behind the scenes of many of the biggest classic rock concert tours for decades. Acts like Loverboy, Alice Cooper, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Rush and Triumph have all used his services as a tour manager, sound and lighting engineer and production manager.
His office walls are lined in photos of either John posing with celebrities or of promotional 8x10s personally signed to him. The rest of the room covered in backstage passes for hundreds of tours and even highlights a gorgeous Gold Album awarded to him through the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
You could say John Power has lived the life he always dreamed of.
He’s a true music lover, who has channel upon channel of music videos and concerts programmed into his YouTube playlist. And each video has its own story, like the one he shared about Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, where guitarist Ken Greer’s use of a steel pedal guitar for his solo in Lunatic Fringe changed the way people look at guitar solos.
John has spent the last half-century embedded in the music industry – from drummer, to sound man, to road manager, and finally, to filmmaker. He has embraced the music in all its glory.
“A musician will go, man, you have no idea what it’s like to stand on stage in the middle of 30,000 people,” John told us in a casual sit down in his Windsor home. “I tell them, you guys you have no idea what it’s like to sit in the middle of 30,000 people with 300,000 watts of audio power at my control and when the song is over those people are cheering. I’m taking a little bit of pride for myself because I’m making you guys sound that way.”
John has taken a little bit of that magic and shared the experience through a DVD he produced for the Toronto rock band Goddo called “The Pretty Bad Boys Return: 35th Anniversary Reunion Concert” that ended up being distributed by Entertainment One. Filmed at Toronto’s Sound Academy in 2010 for the band’s 35th anniversary, the concert joined Goddo members Greg Godovitz, Gino Scarpelli and Doug Inglis, as well as original drummer Marty Morin and special guests Ed Piling, Gene Scarpelli, Brad Lovett, and Dr. John Bjarnason.
“I do these documentaries to show them how I hear them,” Power added. “Here’s how I see you, this is what you do for me and this is what I’m doing for you. With that Goddo concert film, there was no government money, no tax money, no nothing, that was all my undertaking, I got a little bit of money from a broadcaster who wanted to do it, but they changed their format before we even started filming. I got signed with eOne, that’s the world’s largest independent film and music company, how the fuck did that happen!”
eOne Television-Music Canada released the DVD-CD package online, and at HMV and other music retail outlets across Canada, with Super Channel licensing the concert film for broadcast. eOne also presented two theatrical screenings of The Pretty Bad Boys Return in Toronto, and again in Ottawa, a week prior of Goddo’s headline appearance at the RBC Ottawa Blues Festival, and a week before the film debuted on national television.
John produced and mixed the audio for the film with the intention of giving audiences the experience of hearing a sound at its source – right from the mixing board as it might be heard by the engineer.
Buzz Sherman of the iconic Canadian band Moxy once coined the term “The Power Mix”, which he used to describe John’s live concert mix when they toured with John in the 1970s. That’s about as gimmicky as John gets – he’s really just a man who has loved what he’s done all these years and will continue to share the joy with others.
In the last year, he’s produced a fundraising concert for Kim “The Commander” Kelly with Downchild Blues and even called on his friends from Triumph to sign a photo for Lesley Collett, who needed a special boost in her life at the time.
“I will only work with those that I have a relationship with,” he revealed. “There has to be a connection in some way or I won’t do it.”
Lesley Collett with her signed Triumph photo