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Richard Stepp




I met ace guitarist Frank Babakaiff when he moved to Sicamous in the early 1960's. He was a cool guy who was already playing in a great rock'n'roll band in Salmon Arm, a few miles down the Trans Canada Highway. His band played all over the Okanagen Valley, and he drove a Mustang. I was just starting to play, and it was great to meet him.

After I graduated I moved to Vancouver and lived with my cousin Neil and Aunt Vera. They had a piano, as they both played really well. I had a job with the Department of Highways as a draftsman  in the survey branch. 

About that time (fall 1964) Frank Babakaiff moved to nearby Port Moody and suggested we start a band. He thought up the name The Questions and he found the rest of the players. We practiced at keyboard player Rich Coleman's parents house in nearby Ioco, named for the Imperial Oil Co, and at manager Gary Marconi's parents' house in Vancouver. 

Besides Frank on lead guitar and myself on drums, The Questions consisted of lead vocalist Rick McClartie, bassist Adrie van Viersen,  Rob (Dave) Rougeau on sax, and Rich Coleman played keyboards. Like a lot of bands in this part of the country, we were greatly influenced by The Animals, Paul Revere and The Raiders and other hard-rocking R&B flavored bands.

Here I am providing the beat for The Questions.

We all had regular jobs, and we played on the weekends. Frank and Gary handled the bookings. Mostly our gigs were dances at community halls like the Jubilee Hall in Burnaby and the Ioco Hall, and events like the Maple Ridge Car Show around the lower mainland of B.C. We used our cars to get us to the gig - the equipment was a lot smaller in those days. 

In 1965 we entered the Battle Of The Bands contest at the huge annual fair, the Pacific National Exhibition. It was held every August for two weeks before school started in September. It drew around a million people. The Beatles had played there the previous year. Well, what do you know? We won! Our prize was some recording time at radio station CKNW's studio in New Westminster where we recorded two songs. They were done straight in, not even two-track, with just a quick mix, a playback for approval, and on to the next song. For some reason the recordings were never released.

The Questions broke up in the summer of 1966 when Frank Babakaiff pulled the plug on the group and moved to New Zealand. The next year I took a cruise to the south Pacific, and when we got near NZ I decided to get off the ship. I found Frank and we shared a house with three other guys from the north Okanagen. Life in New Zealand was great, but one day I got a long distance call from Vancouver. It was the Northwest Company, one of the top rock'n'roll bands in British Columbia. They needed a drummer. They needed me.

To read about The Northwest Company click here
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