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David Foster and his '70s supergroup Skylark make B.C. Hall of Fame

BJ Cook, 81, and David Foster, 73, will attend a public induction ceremony for B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame set for 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Victoria band Skylark, featuring David Foster (third from right) and BJ Cook (right), will enter the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame on Friday. HEATHER ASTON

Victoria musicians David Foster and BJ Cook — former husband and wife, and the only surviving original members of 1970s supergroup Skylark — will be entered into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame on Friday.

Cook, 81, and Foster, 73, will attend the public induction ceremony set for 10:30 a.m. today. Foster will receive star presentations on the Granville Street StarWalk in Vancouver for his award-winning solo career and vaunted contributions to Skylark. Cook will represent the remainder of her former bandmates in Skylark, which will have a star presentation of its own.

The original Skylark band got its start in Vancouver, with a number of well-known Victoria musicians in its line-up, including singer Cook and keyboardist/producer Foster. The other core members — guitarist/composer Doug Edwards, bassist Steve Pugsley, drummer Duris Maxwell, and singer Donny Gerrard — have all died, but the group’s biggest hit, Wildflower, continues to thrive 50 years after its release.

“We knew the song was good,” Cook said of the 1973 hit, which topped the Canadian adult contemporary charts and cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

“David was 23 years old when he wrote all those string parts. This is way before synthesizers. It was real strings — the real deal. Pretty impressive for a kid, really.”

Skylark did not hang around long enough to make good on its initial promise, breaking up shortly after its second album in 1974. Cook, who was married to Foster from 1972 until 1981, and still lives in Victoria, knew immediate success would spell the end of the group she co-founded.

“When we did the first album, David was hooked. He realized that producing and making records was way more fun than being on the road,” she said with a laugh.

Foster would encounter solo success on a grand scale as a producer for Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Whitney Houston, though Wildflower still makes its onto his setlists when he performs. With lyrics by Victoria’s Dave Richardson, and an iconic lead vocal by Gerrard, it went on to become one of the biggest hits in Canadian music history, with cover versions by everyone from Johnny Mathis and the O’Jays to The Neville Brothers making their way onto the charts.

An instrumental version from 1973, by saxophonist Hank Crawford, the one-time music director for Ray Charles, has been immensely successful, with dozens of hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur (Shorty Wanna Be a Thug), Kanye West (Drive Slow), and Drake (Miss Me), sampling Crawford’s version.

The hall of fame induction is the perfect exclamation point to five decades of memories for Cook.

“It was the joy of my life to be in Skylark,” Cook said. “If I look back on my career, Skylark was definitely the highlight. We played for thousands of people, got great reviews, and played [iconic Los Angeles rock club] The Troubadour two times. It was pretty cool.”

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