If you are too young to know who the band Lighthouse is, chances are you’ve still heard Lighthouse.
It may have been on the radio, in an elevator, while on hold during a phone call or on television. The younger crowd might recognize cover versions of their hit One Fine Morning by Carlos Santana or I’d Be So Happy written by Lighthouse co-founder Skip Prokop for Three Dog Night and sampled by Akon.
“It’s really unfortunate because when Akon used I’d Be So Happy, which I wrote for Three Dog Night, that song did not get released as a radio single,” said Prokop, adding he sold around eight million CDs with it but didn’t get royalties because it wasn’t a radio single. “But hey, it’s really good Lighthouse is getting played all over the world.”
On Wednesday you can hear them live as they take the stage at Okanagan Lake Park for the opening night of Peachfest at 9:45 p.m.
Recently the band released a package that paired a completely re-mastered CD featuring 16 of the most requested original classics with a 5.1 surround sound DVD, 40 Years of Sunny Days. Also included is a 24-page booklet with archival and recent photographs and liner notes by Grammy Award winning musicologist Rob Bowman.
“Anyone that gets it and has a surround sound system they will think they are sitting on my drums in the middle of the band, it is amazing,” said Prokop.
Playing strictly the hits from their body of work from the 70s doesn’t phase the rock-orchestra comprised of horns, classical strings and a rock rhythm section.
Prokop said they learned early on what pleases the crowd and have stuck with it.
“You want to get a nice flow and of course we don’t bite the heads off chickens or blow things up, so Lighthouse is a major, major musical evening especially with the solo virtuosity that we got. Our guys are such good players,” said Prokop.
That comes from years spent touring. In fact they toured 300 days a year with sold out performances at Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Expo ‘70 in Japan and the Isle of Wight Festival in England where they were the only act, besides Jimi Hendrix, who were asked to perform twice. Competing with them on the bill were the Doors, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, the Who and Chicago.
While many Canadian bands do well at home, it is across the border they struggle. Not so with Lighthouse said Prokop, who said they were known as the peace band from Canada in the U.S.
With a unbelievable touring schedule, most of their life happened on the road. In fact, most of Prokop’s memories of historical moments in the world were while he was touring.
“My first band, the Paupers, were locked down in a hotel room in Chicago when they had the riots over Martin Luther King’s assassination. The cops and SWAT team had to come in and usher people out. Put 10 people in a cab and get the hell out of here. It was crazy. We had a full blown military escort out to the airport three days later because they were sniping cars on the freeway,” said Prokop. “There is all kinds of those stories. We got caught in a riot down in San Francisco once, just all kinds of crazy stuff. You come back to Canada and tell people about that and they would say ‘that didn’t happen.’”
Prokop said while many rock groups nowadays miss out on that connection with fans: they don’t. He said they love sticking around after shows to sign autographs, take pictures and chat with their fans. Looking back at a career spanning several decades, many Juno Awards and numerous top 10 hits, Prokop said he only has one regret.
“Probably my biggest mistake was turning down Woodstock because Lighthouse would have been a mega, mega group. I didn’t like what it was looking like and I said we aren’t doing this. But, who knew the press would turn it into the sociological event of the decade,” said Prokop.