Steven Page of The Barenaked Ladies sings with The Art of Time Ensemble in Toronto

Steven Page Leaves Barenaked Ladies

Steven Page has left The Barenaked Ladies, as announced late yesterday in a statement posted on the Toronto-based band's website and Page's own blog.

Page intends to continue to sing without the band, with plans of recording a solo album and collaborating with The Art of Time Ensemble, such as in the concert I quite enjoyed last June.

He also intends to try his hand as composer for a production of Bartholomew Fair at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival later this summer.

The band was co-founded by singers Page and Ed Robertson over 20 years ago in Scarborough, Ont. Their early hits such as Be My Yoko Ono, Brian Wilson and If I Had a Million Dollars quickly earned them radio airplay, which led to numerous other radio hits and over 10 million records worldwide.

I still have the Barenaked Ladies' first EP released on cassette tape, perhaps best known as The Yellow Tape.

The band had recently recorded Snacktime, a kids' album, which they were also touring recently in between stadium shows for adults.

I guess we'll always have their Crazy ABC's song.

Last July, Page was charged with cocaine possession, which didn't bode well for the band's child-friendly image. Maybe this had something to do with him leaving the band. It wouldn't surprise me if the band or the band's management asked him to leave or take a hiatus while he cleaned up his image.

Maybe Page tore a page out of the book of his second cousin, reggae artist Snow and is using his newfound street cred to launch a new solo path for himself?

In his interview on CBC radio this afternoon, Ed Robertson said they have no plan to search for another lead singer, Ă la Rockstar INXS. Instead, the band intends to record a new album in the spring and tour in autumn, all without Page.

All the other band members also sing, but I doubt any of them will be stepping up to replace Page's vocals in their songs. They'll probably have to rearrange the songs to sound decent without Page at the helm.

Some of my fondest memories of the band came during their many shows at Massey Hall, where I worked as an usher for about five years during the peak of the band's success in the mid-to-late '90s. Their encores in particular were highly entertaining as they'd switch styles (and even instruments) mid-song and never miss a beat.

Rewind to 1990 and you'll see the Barenaked Ladies do an impromptu rendition of Be My Yoko Ono on CityTV's Speaker's Corner:

The Barenaked Ladies were one of the most consistently strong Canadian bands of the past 20 years. It's uncertain whether the band will continue to succeed without Page.

If you're a fan, would you pay to see the band play without Page? What are your memories of the band?

Photo by Roger Cullman.

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