Brian Rading, founding bassist of the Canadian rock act Five Man Electrical Band, died earlier this month of natural causes at his home in Hull, Ontario, after a battle with throat cancer, the Ottawa Citizen reports. He was 69.
Rading began playing in Ottawa-area groups while he was a teenager, including The Staccatos, which — after releasing a couple of albums — changed their name to Five Man Electrical Band in the late 1960s. The band is best known for the 1971 hippie anthem “Signs,” which reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. The group scored a follow-up hit that same year with “Absolutely Right,” which peaked at #26.
After leaving Five Man Electrical Band in 1973, Rading continued to perform in various other groups, and remained a figure on the local Ottawa music scene for the rest of his life.
“He loved being on stage, more than anything,” his daughter Jennifer told the Ottawa Citizen. “That’s where his heart was. That was his soul.”
Brian Sim, who’s a member of the current Five Man Electrical Band lineup and played with Rading in a group called Crucial Moments, described him as “warm, friendly, thoughtful, helpful,” and said he “did a lot of things for a lot of people.” Sim added, “He was one of the best bass players I’ve ever played with.”
In addition to his musical career, Rading also was a landlord and a house painter and drywall installer.
A memorial event honoring Brian is being planned for later in the summer.
“Signs,” of course, had a second life on the charts thanks to the hard-rock group Tesla, whose acoustic cover of the tune reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.
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