|The only boy of seven kids, and youngest, Roy (Bim) Forbes was born in Dawson Creek, BC. He learned to play guitar young while listening to the radio and his sisters' 78s, dreaming of being like his idols Marty Robbins, Gene Vincent, Hank Williams and Hank Snow. |
He dabbled in a few projects as a teen, including writing his first songs with The Crystal Ship. Along with vocalist Brian Rushfeldt and fellow guitarist Richard Dixon, the group also comprised of bassist Ed Hanrahan and Terry Emslie on drums. Their sort of rural Canadian version of San Fransisco sound that was heavy on fuzz guitar and psychadelic melodies was hot on the scene at the time, and their song "You Know You've Got Me Uptight Girl" and "Better Luck Next Time" were all the rage on the local circuit and even got the boys out of Dawson Creek and all the way to Ft St John. The band also made a couple of appearances on CBC Radio while in Vancouver.
At the age of 18 and literally days after high school grad, he set out on his own for the bright lights of Vancouver in July of '71, quickly becoming a staple on the coffee house circuit while exploring his folk and pop influences. He was an instant hit on CBC radio's "Great Canadian Goldrush" program which allowed him to explore his creativity and gain a loyal local following. The tapes from those sessions would become the demos that would eventually land him a deal with Casino Records in '74.
Going under his childhood nickname 'Bim,' he went into Little Mountain Studios and cut his debut album, KID FULL OF DREAMS, released early the next year and boasted some of the west coast's top names lending a hand, including Susan Jacks and Chilliwack's Claire Lawrence. Along with an array of originals that spanned his folk and light pop roots were tracks like the first two singles, "Me and My Baby" and the lead-off "Can't Catch Me," and some serious slide guitar licks in "Waitin' For You Mama" and "You Can't Expect Me To Change," as well as a cover of Hank Williams Sr's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Gaining much critical appraise, the album was nominated for a Juno for Best New Artist.
A year later he was back at Little Mountain recording his follow-up, RAINCHECK ON MISERY, a collection of tracks self-written, featuring the reflective "The Slider," "Tender Lullabye" and "Don't Cry," as well as the uptempo lead off "Dance In The Sunlight" and "So Close To Home." Again his soulful voice and introspective lyrics earned him critical praise. He continued his run on the circuit, backing the likes of Supertramp and Three Dog Night, as well as making several folk festival appearances across the country while working on material for his next project.
Casino Records cashed in its chips and closed its doors, and Forbes found himself looking for a new home. He landed a deal with Elektra and released THISTLES in '78. More interested in what they thought his past music should have sounded like than new material, label execs insisted he come out of the studio with new takes on some of his more popular songs, including re-worked versions of "Tender Lullabye," "Right After My Heart," and "Waitin' For You Mama," as well as the title track and "Night On A Hill," co-written with old Crystal Ship-mate Terry Emslie. Despite the label's lacklustre support, he continued making a name for himself as a captivating live performer, opening for Santana and Jeff Beck and becoming one of the most sought after acts at folk festivals around the continent.
Unhappy with his deal, Forbes opted to drop Elektra and concentrate on doing things his own way. He resurfaced on Stony Plain Records in '82 with ANYTHING YOU WANT, a one side studio, one side live album that showcased his personal and intimate side. Alone with nothing but his acoustic guitar, the studio side contained a reworking of John Brim's classic "Tough Times," and the live portion contained "Old Man Worry," as well as a cover of Roscoe Gordon's blues classic "T-Bone Boogie" and his collaberation with Willie Dixon in "Long Long Way."
His longtime friendship with Connie Kaldor culminated in them teaming up for the holiday album NEW SONGS FOR AN OLD TRADITION for Aural Traditions Records in '85, a label that piggybacked the Vancouver Folk Festival. The record was an interesting collection that mixed his arrangements on traditional Christmas classics with a cover of Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December" and originals from both he and Kaldor. Included was a reworked version of Forbes' "Mincemeat Tart," a song he'd previously done for CBC radio in 1979.
He again slipped out of the limelight during most of the next decade, but further cemented his reputation as a songwriter for other artists, including Matt Minglewood, Sylvia Tyson, Shari Ulrich, Valdy and Susan Jacks. He even found time to do some work on Sesame Street. He released LOVE TURNS TO ICE on AKA Records in 1987. This was his first lp under his real name. And once again he relied on a helping hand from ust about everyone who was anyone on the west coast inner folk/pop circle, including Kaldor, Jerry Adolphe, Doug Edwards, both later of Chilliwack fame, Robbie King, Connie Lebeau, Sue Leonard, Norman MacPherson and Dave Pickell. Along with an acoustic cover of Hank Williams Sr's "Lonesome River," the album hosted a number of personal and sometimes sombre numbers like "Break My Heart", the title track, "Wildman, and "Now You Want My Love."
In 1990 his longtime friendships with Bill Henderson of The Collectors and Chilliwack fame and Shari Ulrich culminated in a sort of 'folk supergroup,' UHF. What was supposed to be a one-time show at a Vancouver Folk Festival culminated in their first album on Tangible Records, simply called UHF. Each member lent their own styles and personalities to the writing of the critically acclaimed acoustic roots masterpiece, evidenced by Henderson's "When I Sing," Ulrich's "One Step Closer" and Forbes' "Do I Love You?".
THE HUMAN KIND, leaning more towards a country flavour, released in '92, was next his solo list, backed with the lead off acoustically-driven upbeat "Still A Fool," the title track, and the tender "A Sweet Kind of Love." He also continued his relationship with Connie Kaldor on the joint venture "Saskatoon Moon," which she guested on, and covered Hank Snow's "A Fool Such As I," Don Gibson's "Just One Time" and Bruce Miller's "Anna Marie." More tours of little clubs and big festivals ensued for the next few years, until teaming up with Henderson and Ulrich again with UHF's '94 sophomore album, UHF 2.
ALMOST OVERNIGHT, released a year later was aptly titled. A collection of some of his personally favourite tunes he'd recorded as 'Bim,' the 18 cuts were raw acoustic flavourings doen in a 3-day recording marathon session the previous summer, including "Right After My Heart," "Kid Full of Dreams," "Talk Around Town" and "Farmer Needs The Rain."
Released in the fall of '98, CRAZY OLD MOON signified Forbes' first all original solo recordings in nearly a decade, and one of his most diversified. The uptempo "I'm On The Edge" and lead off "Powered By Love" were offset by the pure country flavourings of the title track and "No One To Talk To But The Moon," his first duet with Cindy Church, all the way to the jazzy "Knockin' On Wood."
He again slipped out of the spotlight, keeping busy with other projects until releasing his highly anticipated TUNES FOR THAT MOTHER OF MINE in 2006. Amazingly recorded in only five hours, the majority of the album paid tribute to the songs and artists that influenced his passion and direction, as well as "About My Broken Heart," inspired by the death of John Lennon and "Spider," co-written with longtime friend Terry Emslie. Marty Robbins' "Singin' The Blues," Waiting For A Train" from Jimmie Rodgers, and Hank Snow's "Bluebird Island" ... all his childhood heroes and fondest memories were there ... and originally intended as a birthday present for his mother.
His other side projects over the years have earned him accolades from nearly every avenue, including writing his film and TV soundtracks and producing, collaberating with and writing for other artists. It was the family radio on those cold evenings in Dawson Creek when he was a child that spawned his love for music, and ironically it's come full circle, as a whole new genre of admirers have enjoyed his CBC and CKUA programs for years, where he often shares vintage memories from his own record collection. Along with participating regularly in several songwriting workshops across Canada, he also sits on the Songwriters Association of Canada's board of directors.