By Mike Selby
It was called ‘The Urban Reader.’
A publication of the Vancouver Planning Department, this “review of urban news and opinion” featured historic city photos surrounded by demographics and newspaper clippings. In late January of 1980, graphic designer James O’Mara was flipping through it trying to find an image usable for his latest project—the cover for the new PRISM album: ‘Young & Restless.’
Buried amongst the thousands of photos of old Vancouver, O’Mara found exactly what he was looking for: a time-battered image of a handful of teenagers sitting in and around an open top Ford, sporting the license-plate “BC 265077.” This one photo captured the feeling and the spirit of youth in the late 50s; O’Mara could not stop looking at it. He felt it was perfect for the album cover.
So did PRISM. In those pre-internet days, the band’s manager had to fly to Los Angeles and present the image to the executives at Capitol Records. “Absolutely not,” was their reply. The label was still reeling from lawsuits filed by numerous individuals who sued them for using their “likeness without consent” on the sleeve of the Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album. Unless PRISM could get permission from each and every person in the photo, Capitol would not use it.
Back in Vancouver, the manager broke the news to the band. How hard would it be in 1980 to find six anonymous people who had their photo taken in 1958, and to get each one to release their likeness rights, all while the clock was ticking? Probably next to impossible. While considering other options, Doug Clarke, the band’s lawyer, said “screw it, I’ll find them.”
The photo itself was dated 1958, and credited to Fred Herzog. After a long day of phone calls, Clarke found him employed as a medical photographer at UBC. Herzog told Clarke he had taken that photo at a motorcycle race somewhere between the Dry Dock Pier on Burrard and the 13th St. Fire Hall.
Clarke then made hundreds of phone calls, asking friends and friends of friends, leaving messages everywhere he could think of. By the end of the day he was exhausted. But then his phone rang. It was a firefighter who was currently stationed at the 13th St. Fire Hall. The leather-clad teenager on the far right in the photo, was his older brother, Larry Bratten, who worked in an auto body shop just down the street.
Reenergized, Clarke rushed to the address, and — for a bottle of whiskey and a copy of album signed by PRISM — Bratten was happy to sign the release. Not only that, but he pointed Clarke to the North Vancouver home of Bill Halford — the person in the photo behind the wheel.
Bill Halford was stunned when Clarke showed up at his door and produced the photo (no one in the photo knew that one had even been taken). He called his wife Sharon to come see it, and she was equally stunned. That was her in the backseat. Sharon and her friends had been trying to make it from Kitsilano High School over to North Vancouver to see a motorcycle race when a cute boy pulled up in his low-top Ford and offered them a ride. Twenty-two-years later they were married with children and running a successful excavation business. Beyond thrilled their first date would be immortalized on an album cover, they happily signed Clarke’s release.
Bill Halford told Clarke his friend in the back seat was Dave Tickel — a law enforcement counsellor in Campbell River. The second leather-clad teen leaning in the photo was Norman Cartwright. Clarke found him in Langley, a burly bearded tug boat skipper with a large family. Both accepted the offer of whiskey and a signed album.
This left Sharon’s friend, the girl who is front and centre of the photo. She was only an acquaintance of one of Sharon’s close friends. She did not know who she was, but her friend Linda James might. (Linda’s hair can be seen in the extreme far left). Linda was able to tell to Clarke that she thought the girl had moved to California back in 1958, and may have married a Vietnam vet who may or may not be dead. Linda didn’t recall her first name, but her last name was something like “Hutcheon.”
With so little to go on, Clarke went to Kitsilano High, where the administration let him use their staff room to pour through their yearbooks. In the class of ’58 he found ‘Carol Hutchins,’ looking exactly like she did in the photo. But what now. Then Clarke noticed he wasn’t the only one looking through the yearbooks. Members from the class of ’60 were preparing for their upcoming 20th reunion. They too were hunting down people. Clarke asked if they could help him.
With his new helpers, Clarke followed leads to Saskatchewan, Nanaimo, Oregon (where he found out her married name was Corr), and finally to address in Moose Park, California. With time running out, Clarke flew to LAX, only to find the address he was given didn’t exist. There is no Moose Park anywhere in California.
There is a town outside of Los Angeles called Moorpark, so Clarke rented a car and drove to the Moorpark Library, where he could comb through telephone directories. It was all for nothing. No Corrs lived in or anywhere near Moorpark. He then called every Corr listed in the greatest Los Angeles area, but it was a bust. Five signatures out of six wouldn’t cut it with Capitol Records.
As he was leaving, one of the library staff said there was a Corr’s Pool Cleaning Service in Beverly Hills. He made one last desperate call. “Carol?” the young voice on the other side of the line asked. “Carol’s my aunt.”
Clarke was invited to Carol’s home just outside Los Angeles, where she lives with her (living) husband — a pilot for Western Airlines. She was beyond excited to co-operate. Clarke had all six release forms signed!
Capitol Records made sure all six were there for PRISM’s ‘Young and Restless’ release party in May of 1980. Photographer Fred Herzog was there was well, a bit perplexed as to all the commotion his photo had created.
“Young and Restless” went platinum and was nominated for three Junos.
(Massive thanks to Al Harlow, professor of music at Capilano University (and still PRISM’s bass player) for helping me with certain facts. Bill and Sharon’s Halford’s son Donny studied music under him.)
Mike Selby is Programs & Community Development Librarian at the Cranbrook Public Library