It’s a conspiracy that dates back to 1990. It is a story that certainly will never be told outside of on this award winning website (the award being the brews some of the boys bought me last weekend). And it most definitely won’t be told in the Don Cherry movies “Keep Your Head up Kid” or “The Wrath of Grapes”. Perhaps the CBC is tied up in all of this, terrified of losing their star.
Anyways, in 1990 Don Cherry was flying high with the success of the original Rock’em Sock’em video and was gearing up to do Rock’em Sock’em 2. Having such huge success on television and now VHS (remember VHS?!?), he was looking for some way to take his entertainment career to the next level.
With the world of rap becoming more and more mainstream by 1990, Don decided this was the new wave and he was going to grab his surfboard and ride it (what a line hey, no wonder I’m award winning!) Enter…Grape Jam. Using the 2nd Rock’em Sock’em as his platform, it was to be Don’s breakout/debut song.
Some of you may hate conspiracy theorists and I’m really not one, but judge for yourself:
Lyrically it could be one of the best rap songs in Canadian history. Sure Snow, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, K-Os, Lloydminster legend Big Pred and Drake have their hits, but this broke down barriers for them.
I played the minor leagues
I coached the Boston Bruins
If you’re askin’ me I think the games in ruins
Guys don’t fight, they don’t back check
It’s like watchin’ the Nordiques out there in Queebec
Are you kidding me?!? Lyrical genius!!! And yet, nothing.
DJ’s refused to give it air time, record companies refused to release the single on cassette (yes, cassettes…PERFECT). Remember now this was 1990, rap music was still viewed as dangerous by much of the mainstream public, especially in Canada. Those of us that were great fans of the song were left wondering “where is Grapes’ Juno?!?”
But as we all know with Don, he is one of the most resilient men in Canadian history and decided to pick himself up off the floor and get back in the studio. By 1993 music had changed. Rap was no longer the dangerous new thing that it was in 1990. By 93, techno was in and there was “no limit” (see what I did there?!) to how far it could go. Grapes once again was going to get on the bandwagon before it was full.
What really sets not only the song, but the video apart from others are the people dancing at about the 0:34 mark, you will not see moves like that on the dance floor anywhere else and yet Don’s people were somehow able to convince them to be in this video.
Added to that, once again Grapes goes to places lyrically that few have ever gone.
Blue, Blue what a pup
Oh how she loves the Stanley Cup
Hockey man is what I am
And yet while the Gemini’s continue to pile up, he has never seen a Juno. Few are aware, but after being held back by the music industry for what can only be assumed was sheer jealousy and fear, Don had enough. Why should he pour his heart and soul into music and get nothing back in return? There just had to be a conspiracy against him, worried how simple it was for a former coach and now TV star to crossover and dominate the music industry.
It’s still great seeing Grapes after all these years still looking great, still doing Coaches Corner, and still putting out great…well….still putting out Rock’em Sock’em’s. But the real fans will never forget the early 90’s when Don Cherry unleashed what should have been 2 smash hits that unfortunately will never get the recognition they so rightly deserved.
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