Rob Edwards shares a piece of rock and roll history with Led Zeppelin that dates back 48 years.
Edwards’ band, Troyka, signed a recording deal with Cotilion Records, an affiliate of Atlantic Records, in New York City in 1970 on the same day the legendary heavy metal band from England signed on the dotted line.
“They handed out little bottles of vodka and balloons shaped like zeppelins,” recalled Edwards, a Langford resident for the past 20 years. “I wish I’d kept one of those balloons,” he added with a shrug and a smile.
Edwards’ early musical roots trace back to Edmonton, where he grew up and started playing in Grade 6 with a couple of friends he’d known since elementary school. Troyka included Edwards, who played guitar and handled songwriting chores, Ron Lukawitski on bass and Mike Richards on vocals and drums. An earlier incarnation, a four-piece band called Royal Family, had garnered some playing time on the strength of two 45s the band released in the late 1960s. “We played in front of 20,000 at the Calgary Stampede and had a gig at Expo 67 in Montreal,” Edwards said. “That led to a move to New York. We formed Troyka after one of the members of The Royal Family left.”
Troyka’s sound was influenced to some degree by Cream. “We were a power trio that played a mix of blues and rock, with a heavy dose of psychedelic,” he noted. Their debut album on Cotillion, simply called Troyka, was released in 1970. The band stayed together for a year and toured the U.S., opening for some of the big attractions of the day such as Canned Heat, Rare Earth and Mountain, to name a few. Although Troyka split up in Toronto at the end of 1970 due to personal differences, Edwards still keeps in touch with his former bandmates.
After moving to B.C. in 1973, Edwards taught music privately before embarking on a 20-year career with the Sooke School District, where he taught music at many of the elementary schools on the West Shore. Retired from teaching for 10 years, he is still involved in the music scene. “I’ve done some producing and still play in Los Angeles from time to time,” said Edwards, who’s been a director with the Victoria Blues Society for 11 years. “I like the energy, the changes and the vibe,” he said regarding living in Langford.
Edwards was pleasantly surprised to learn that Troyka was named this year as one of the more unique bands of its era by Classic Rock, a British music magazine. “Troyka is a weird and wonderful, primarily hard rock album, but which defies description and is all the better for it,” the magazine wrote in its “Buried Treasure” section. “There’s a controlled anarchy behind their bizarre chemistry.”
That acknowledgment of the band and the re-release of its album on CD in 2014 does cause the occasional pause for thought, however. “It makes me wonder a little how different things might have been if we didn’t break up,” he admitted. “But that’s balanced by how happy and satisfied with where I’m at now. I’ve lost some friends and fellow musicians over the years, sometimes to their lifestyle, but I still have a ton of incredible memories from that period of my life.”
Working as a booking agent for the past five years has reaffirmed his beliefs about the state of the business. “Music is still wide open in the sense that you get out what you put in. The advice I’d give to any young musician is don’t give up your dreams.” Recalling some of the early, scathing reviews that Troyka, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell and others received back in the day, Edwards emphasized that “You may get knocked around in the beginning, but if you’re honest to yourself and your music, there’s no telling where you may wind up. Music, times and tastes change, but there’s always room for new talent, especially if you’re committed to working hard. Here I am, 48 years later, and I get 4,000 hits a week on me or the music I’m promoting.”
Check out Troyka on Facebook or victoriamusicscene.com for more on Edwards.