Click the play button above to listen to Kim Mitchell’s full conversation with Tom Power.
Kim Mitchell is a part of the DNA of Canadian music.
The iconic rocker turns 70 on July 10 and he’s celebrating by touring across Canada for his latest album, The Big Fantasize. Mitchell sat down for an interview with Q‘s Tom Power to look back on his 50-year music career, from the founding of the band Max Webster in the 1970s, to why he sees playing live — at everywhere from amphitheaters to circus tents — as his “Rock N’ Roll Duty .”
Here are seven facts (one for each decade of his life) that you may not have known about the Go for Soda singer as he rings in his 70th birthday.
0 to 10
One of Mitchell’s earliest music memories is sitting on his dad’s lap watching Elvis Presley’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
10 to 20
Mitchell’s high school band got a gig in Michigan opening for the legendary punk rockers The MC5 in the 1960s. “The National Guard surrounded the entire perimeter of the gig,” he recalled.
20 to 30
Before starting his pioneering prog-rock band Max Webster, Mitchell played guitar in a Greek show band backing up a singer who called himself as “the Greek Tom Jones.” Mitchell went to the Greek isle of Rhodes to play with the show band — and the influences of this time can be heard in some of his biggest Max Webster hits, like Beyond The Moon.
30 to 40
Mitchell’s 1984 hit Go for Soda was the only song that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. It seemed to have a chance to keep climbing up the American charts, until it was usurped by Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It.
40 to 50
The 1990s were a tough time for Mitchell: his marriage ended, his mother died and his music career went into a slump.
He fell into a depression and his dad’s suggestion provided him with the first step to get out of it: “You know what you have to do to start feeling better? Get up and make your bed every day and do a good job of it. ”
50 to 60
In the early 2000s, Mitchell embarked on a new career as a radio DJ on the Toronto classic rock station Q107, which he ended up doing for about a decade. He had wanted to do a Sunday night show for when cottagers were driving home, but when the station’s afternoon drive-time host quit, he decided to take the job.
“I sucked for the first year,” said Mitchell, but he soon became a hit.
60 to 70
Mitchell was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2021 at the age of 69. Ever self-deprecating, Mitchell says he was “blindsided” by the honour.
“The way I see it is, I’m the song’s roadie. The song is telling me what it wants.”
Written and produced by Jennifer Warren.