Richmond band Thor reunites after 35 years apart

Thor performing at the Steveston Salmon Festival in 1976. The band is reuniting for a 40th anniversary concert.  -
Thor performing at the Steveston Salmon Festival in 1976. The band is reuniting for a 40th anniversary concert.
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A local band popular at school dances and community events in the 1970s is reuniting for the first time in 35 years to play a concert at South Arm Community Hall.

Thor, formed in 1972 by a trio of Grade 7 James Whiteside Elementary school students, will be back on stage with all original members on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

“We’re pretty blown away by the response we’ve got,” said Brad Kilburn, the group’s bassist. “I thought we’d be playing in front of 50 people, now it’s looking like we might sell out.”

In the early ’70s, Kilburn and his buddies were digging what they heard on the radio. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Chuck Berry—the 12-year-olds figured they could be rock stars too.

“The fact we had no idea how to play any instrument didn’t seem to bother us,” said Kilburn.

The kids got their hands on some used instruments, amplifiers and recording equipment, and taught themselves how to play. By year’s end the three friends were playing school dances. They played original songs and covers of popular radio hits.

Thor picked up a few more members and took their act around town, even landing a gig at the Steveston Salmon Festival in 1976, where Kilburn met his future wife Barb, then Miss Richmond.

Thor lasted as long as high school did. Once band members graduated, they went their separate ways. Most continued to make music, including Kilburn, who played with Barney Bentall before family became a priority and he embarked on a long career with Air Canada.

Kilburn had tucked away his bass guitar for 28 years but recently started playing again, nudged by former bandmate Johnny Fatiaki, a regular performer at the Pumphouse Pub on Blundell Road.

When word got out of two former Thor members, now living in London, England, were returning home for a visit, the door to a 40th anniversary reunion show opened. Joining Kilburn and Fatiaki on stage are other Thor alumni: Martin Tanaka, Korianne Tylor (formerly Val White), Jimi Coletsis and Steve Braithwaite.

Kilburn isn’t sure why so many people remember Thor. It could be, he said, a longing for simpler times.

“I’m not sure if it’s that old adage, we look backwards to where we have been to see who we are now, or whether it’s nostalgia or what it is.”

For tickets to the Saturday show, contact band members through a Thor 40th Anniversary Reunion Facebook page: tinyurl.com/thorreunion.

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