The Axe Records Story
Axe Records was founded in 1972 by Greg Hambleton as a Canadian-based multi-genre label featuring recordings by an eclectic variety of Artists…but the story really began five years earlier when Greg decided to give his folk-singer performing career a rest while he educated himself on the recording and music production process. “I guess I started at the bottom washing floors at Art Snider‘s Sound Canada Studios in Toronto and, with the assistance of Ivan Bradley, the resident engineer at the time, I gradually taught myself to operate the recording console and the four and eight-track analog recording machines.” As an independent engineer he attracted many producer/artist clients and recorded sessions by The Irish Rovers (Whiskey On A Sunday), The Stampeders (Carry Me) and Stompin’ Tom Conners (his first album and single) among others.
Greg’s Tuesday Music Productions and his publishing companies started signing artists in 1967 and licensing masters to a variety of distributors – The Fringe (Quality), Jack Cooke & The Pendulum (London), Fergus (Capitol) and finally Steel River, a 5 man R&B band from Toronto’s east end. Their first single “Ten Pound Note” (1970) was released on Greg’s own label Tuesday Records distributed by Quality and became an instant radio and sales hit across Canada and a regional hit in the States with the indie Stereo Dimension Records (Evolution label). Albums and other signings and releases followed such as Madrigal‘s “I Believe In Sunshine” (one of the top singles of 1972). Canadian Top 40 AM Radio was very supportive and played/charted many of the key releases continuing through to today on Oldies AM & FM stations.
When Rain (with Charity Brown) was signed from Kitchener, Ontario in 1971, Greg licensed their first recording “Out Of My Mind” to London Records. Under a London distribution arrangement, Axe Records was formed by Greg to market the follow-up recordings and other artists. The first release was “Stop Me From Believing” by Rain (AXE 1). Gary And Dave followed with “Can’t You Do It Now” (AXE 2) and by Thundermug‘s “You Really Got Me” (AXE 3). Many were also recorded at Toronto Sound Studios with Terry Brown engineering (Rush, Rolling Stones, Blue Rodeo, etc) and mixed by Bob Liftin at Regent Sound (Roberta Flack, Allman Bros, Frank Zappa, etc). Promotion Director Elsie Heatherman started working the singles on radio and by November 1973, Axe Records hit #1 in Canada with Gary And Dave‘s “Could You Ever Love Me Again“. Foreign licensees EMI Electrola, Polygram, Sun Records, Ariola, Bell Records, Private Stock, Evolution, Big Tree, CBS Records, Sony Music, SSS Intl, Decca UK, etc released Axe recordings around the world.
By 1980, when the Decca/London Records catalogue was sold to Polygram and distribution of indie labels was discontinued, Greg Hambleton stopped signing new acts and devoted himself to administrating his music publishing catalogues, Axe Music and Belsize Park Music.
The label remained dormant until 2012 when Greg once again took up performing and recorded and released a CD of his own songs written throughout his career entitled “Summer Songs“. Further releases by Thundermug, Steel River, Rain, Gary & Dave and other artists make this unique record catalogue available to the public.