Tom Cochrane has had a long and fascinating career characterized by creative adventurousness and musical and personal integrity.
Cochrane was born in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, the son of a bush pilot. The family soon relocated to Ontario, and Cochrane set the stage for his future when, at age 11, he swapped a toy train set for his first guitar.
By the early 1970s, he was performing folk-oriented material in coffeehouses in Yorkville, then the centre of bohemian culture in Toronto. In 1973, a single on Daffodil Records, “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” marked his recording debut, followed by an album, Hang On To Your Resistance, issued under the name Cochrane. A few years of struggle, travel, dues paid (and cab driving) followed, but a turning point came when Toronto band Red Rider took Cochrane on as lead singer/songwriter.
From 1980-84, Red Rider released four acclaimed studio albums that married imaginative musicianship and lyrical eloquence. Songs like “Lunatic Fringe” and “White Hot” are still relevant today, and they brought Red Rider significant sales and rock radio play in Canada and the U.S. “Lunatic Fringe” went on to become one of the most played songs in history on American rock radio.
After some personnel changes, the group resurfaced as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider in 1986. Their self-titled album produced major hits in “Boy Inside the Man” and “Untouchable One,” and was followed by the hit albums The Symphony Sessions and 1988’s Victory Day — an album that included one of Cochrane’s signature songs, the haunting Canadian tune “Big League.” A JUNO Award (one of many) as Songwriter of the Year in 1992 confirmed the respect Cochrane now enjoyed within the industry.
Red Rider eventually folded, but Cochrane’s solo career quickly took him to new heights. His 1991 tour de force, Mad Mad World, became one of the biggest-selling Canadian records of all time, scoring Diamond status (for a million sales) here. Its heartland rock sound travelled well, thanks to smash hit single “Life is a Highway,” and the album notched two million in international sales. His subsequent album, 1995’s Ragged Ass Road, included the poignant single “I Wish You Well,” the first song in Canadian radio history to enter both the singles sales chart and airplay chart at No. 1 simultaneously. Cochrane has continued releasing albums every few years, including the 2002 compilation Trapeze and 2015’s Take it Home.
In addition to his musical career, Tom Cochrane has thrown his support behind a wide range of causes. He has travelled to Africa on behalf of World Vision four times. His 2002 single, “Just Like Ali,” benefited research into Parkinson’s, a disease that afflicted his father.
In February 2010, Cochrane & Red Rider performed at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Later that month, Cochrane took part in a charity remake of the K’Naan hit “Wavin’ Flag” to support victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The song entered the Canadian music charts at No. 1.
Cochrane spends much of his time at his beloved studio/retreat Layastone on the shores of Georgian Bay, though he remains passionate about performing.
“I think that I enjoy playing live now more than ever,” he has said. “After all, [my fans] breathe life into the songs. Without one, the other does not exist. I have always known that.”
Cochrane releases his debut single “You’re Driving Me Crazy”
Joins Red Rider in 1978 and releases string of hit albums, including the classic rock single “Lunatic Fringe.”
Releases biggest album of career, Mad Mad World, selling 2 million copies around the world.
Wins Songwriter of the Year at The JUNO Awards
Performs at 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.