In 1988, as Toronto band Blue Rodeo was getting its first taste of Canadian rock stardom, lead singer Jim Cuddy began keeping a scrapbook to memorialize a particularly eventful tour through Germany. Now that scrapbook, along with almost every photo, recording and demo tape the band has amassed in its 20-year history, will reside in the archives of the Media Commons at Robarts Library, thanks to a generous gift from the band.
The collection chronicles the band’s history from 1984 to 2003, and includes unreleased live recordings, 3,500 photographs, and memorabilia. It also includes earlier material from another band Cuddy and Blue Rodeo guitarist Greg Keelor belonged to in the mid-1970s.
The materials will be located in the environmentally controlled preservation facility in the Media Commons, where they will serve as a resource for researchers. Susan deCartier, Blue Rodeo’s manager, says it was difficult to part with the collection but she is happy with the relocation. “One of the nice things about U of T is that it feels like [the collection] is at home,” she says.
Since the release of Blue Rodeo’s debut album, Outskirts, in 1987, the band has won five Juno Awards and released 11 albums. The recordings have sold more than three million copies worldwide. Brock Silversides, head of the Media Commons, hopes the donation helps to open the academic community to popular culture. “When people think of university collections in the field of music, they think of classical music,” he says. “I personally think popular culture is much more reflective of what concerns Canadians. It’s a part of their everyday lives.”