Much thanks to longtime CFRN-TV cameraman and local musician Al Girard for these pictures and clippings from his varied career:
Al Girard made his living as a musician for a twenty year period, in an era where live music was very popular. Sadly, that era has passed. He studied classical piano at an early age, winning the Heintzman and Company Bursary for having the highest marks in grade four piano in Alberta.
He bought a set of drums some time in the 1950s and after learning
how to play the instrument, played in small dance groups. From 1958 to 1960 he was
drummer in The Rock A Tunes, the first Canadian group on Columbia Records. The
Rock A Tunes disbanded in 1960, to become The Fendermen, working out of New York
City, and playing in the American Midwest, Eastern States and Ontario and Quebec in Canada.
After leaving the group he returned to Edmonton, playing with a few groups until joining the R & B band, The Famous Last Words, with Hans Stamer as vocalist. After that group broke up he played with The Natural Gas, a very popular group that played in The Corona and Riviera Taverns as well as gigs in Regina, Havre, Montana and Couer d'alene, Idaho.
He left The Natural Gas in 1970 to attend The Banff School of Fine Arts where he studied photography for three years. While he was a student he played with The Elastic Band with vocalist Mary Saxton to pay his way through school.
Al worked with several famous artists during his career, including The Crystals, The Rivingtons, Dion, Dave Dudley and Skeeter Davis.
After graduating from the Banff School of Fine Arts he was hired as news and sports cameraman by CFRN TV in Edmonton where he worked for 25 years until he retired in 1998.