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Born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario, Craig Ruhnke began taking twelve years of piano lessons as a child, while also teaching himself guitar in the meantime. Shortly after leaving high school, he joined an up and coming group from Toronto called The Groovin’ Company. But when they disbanded after failing to make any waves, he spent the beginning of the 1970s trying to make it as a songwriter while moonlighting as a guitar teacher.

His first recording was in 1974, when he released the 45 “My World” b/w “I’ll Always Love You” on Reprise Records, where he first developed his penchant for writing soft rock/easy listening ballads. WEA signed him to a publishing deal with their subsidiary Don Valley Music later that year, which led to the single “You and Me,” which did fairly well on the Canadian charts.

He inked a recording deal with United Artists, who released “Summer Girl” b/w “Turn The Lights Down Low” early the next year. When it sold nearly 40,000 copies worldwide and charted in Canada, Japan, and the UK, they rushed out his debut album, SWEET FEELINGS. The title track followed as a single, which hovered around the top 40 on the domestic charts, as did “It’s Good To Know” and the upbeat warm-weather hit, “Surfin’ All Summer Long.”

His sophomore album came a year later in the form of Hot Spell. It produced three singles through to the spring of ’76 and by that point he’d all but perfected a style that relied on mellow vibes and aching, earnest vocals, with “I Need My Woman,” “Summer Love,” and “Why Don’t You Come Up And See Me Sometime.” All three spent time inside or hovered around Canada’s top 40 pop list, and fuelled a Canadian tour, as well as stops in Britain and Japan.

He switched to RCA Records and released the single “Music Man” b/w “Block Parents” in the summer of ’76, while working on material for a new album. It came in the form of the simply titled The Craig Ruhnke Band in ’79, after another pair of singles – “Wear My Love” and “It’s Time To Fall In Love” kept him on the airwaves a year earlier. The album featured another pair of top 50 Canadian singles in “The First Time” and “I Need You To Be There,” fuelling another set of engagements across the country.

He spent the next few years looking for a reliable independent label to carry his music, starting with Irving Records with distribution compliments of A&M in ’81. He released Reach Out, which featured his biggest hit, “You’re A Heartbreaker.” It spent over a month inside Canada’s top 40 list, and also charting in Japan and England. A year later he was on Seffel Records, and released Just Like The Old Times that summer. A spurt of marketing genius on behalf of the label execs decided it would be a good idea to give it a different title for the Japanese audience, and so it was re-dubbed TRUE LOVE for the Asian market. “Baby Blue” was followed by “Two Hearts” (also covered in 1980 by The Raes) as singles, and it wasn’t long before Ruhnke was looking for a permanent home once again.

He solved the problem by starting his own label, Pinnacle Records, which began a run of albums that were predominantly made up of previously released material. Urban Breeze In Love in ’83 and Keep The Flame a year later both produced minor hits, although they weren’t released as numerously. Still, “Give Me The Night Time,” “Lovin’ Eyes,” and “A Love Song” (backed with an instrumental version) all did well enough to keep Ruhnke on the airwaves for a few more years until he decided it was time to dabble in other projects.

He returned to school and attended the University of Toronto to study music, and then became a producer, working with Canadian Zephyr. He also wrote radio ads for such clients as Grand & Toy, The Bank of Nova Scotia, and Burger King. He also stayed musically active, playing occasionally throughout the 1990s, and also released a compilation album called COLLECTION in ’91.

In the early ’00s he started up a Beach Boys tribute show, called Endless Summer Live. During the same period, South Korean label Riverman Music acquired the rights to Just Like Old Times, The Craig Ruhnke Band, and Keep The Flame. As opposed to releasing a new album, each album featured three or four new songs.

Discography

The Craig Ruhnke Collection Volume 1

Pinnacle Records 1991

Tracks: Summer Girl, Sweet Feelin’, You’re All That I Need, I Need You To Be There, Baby Blue, Reach Out, Give Me The Nighttime, Ooo Baby (You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy), Put It In A Love Song, Love’s A Celebration, Summer In The Sun, South Sea Island, Hold Me Now, A Lighthouse In The Storm, You’re So Beautiful, Nancy Jane, Keep The Flame, You Are My Inspiration, Heartache, Heartbreaker, I Can’t Live Without Your Love & Good Good Times (All Summer Long).

Musicians on the Craig Ruhnke Collection Volume 1 album: Craig Ruhnke and others.

Urban Breeze In Love

Teichuku Records 1985

Tracks: You Are My Inspiration, True Love, One Love, Just Like Falling In Love Again, You’re All That I Need, I Can’t Live Without Your Love, Nancy Jane, Baby Blue, Reach Out, Keep The Flame, I Need You To Be There, My Heart Belongs To You, Somebody To Love & Two Hearts.

Musicians on the Urban Breeze In Love album: Craig Ruhnke and others.

Keep The Flame

A&M Records 1984

Tracks: Keep The Flame, True Love, Ooh Baby, Nancy Jane, It´s Been Such A Longtime, Two Hearts, You´re So Beautiful, Give Me The Nighttime, Baby Blue, You´re All That I Need, One Love & You Are My Inspiration.

Musicians on the Keep The Flame album: Craig Ruhnke, Barry Keane, Tom Szczesniak, Bob Mann, Al Leger, Matt Zimbel, John Johnson, Debbie Fleming, Colina Phillips, Shawn Jackson & Sharon Lee Williams.

 

True Love

Teichiku Records 1983

Tracks: Keep The Flame, Somebody To Love, Nancy Jane, It’s Been Such A Longtime, True Love, One Love, Give Me The Nighttime, Ooh Baby & Two Hearts.

Musicians on the True Love album: Craig Ruhnke, Al Leger, Bob Mann, Tom Sezniak, Barry Keane, Matt Zimbel, John Johnson, Debbie Fleming, Shawn Jackson, Colina Phillips & Sharon Lee Williams.

Just Like Old Times

Seffel Records 1982

Tracks: Baby Blue, Reach Out, You´re All That I Need, My Heart Belongs To You, Heartache, Just Like Falling In Love Again, Heartbreaker, I Can´t Live Without Your Love, I Need You To Be There & You Are My Inspiraton.

Musicians on the Just Like Old Times album: Craig Ruhnke, Barry Keane, Tom Szczesniak, Bob Mann, Dave Tyson, Matt Zimbel, John Johnson & The Girls.

Just Like Old Times “Japanese Version”

Overseas Records 1982

Tracks: Baby Blue, Reach Out, You´re All That I Need, My Heart Belongs To You, Heartache, Just Like Falling In Love Again, Heartbreaker, I Can´t Live Without Your Love, I Need You To Be There & You Are My Inspiraton.

Musicians on the Just Like Old Times album: Craig Ruhnke, Barry Keane, Tom Szczesniak, Bob Mann, Dave Tyson, Matt Zimbel, John Johnson & The Girls.

 

Reach Out

Almo Records 1981

Tracks: Reach Out, Follow your Heart, The First Time, I Need You To Be There, Baby Come Back, You And I, It Will Take Time, Heartache, Only Fools Fall In Love, Tomorrow & Reach Out(Reprise).

Musicians on the Reach Out album: Craig Ruhnke and others.

The Craig Ruhnke Band

Almo Records 1979

Tracks: You and I, The First Time, I Need You To Be There, Nobody But You, You Are The Light, Why Don´t You Come And See Me Sometime, I´ll Take Time, Wear My Love, It´s Time To Fall In Love, Tomorrow, Sweet Feelings & Summer Girl.

Musician on the Craig Ruhnke Band: Craig Ruhnke and others.

Hot Spell

United Artist 1976

Tracks: Georgia, A Single Word, Daisy May, Why Don´t You Come Up And See Me Sometime, Woman, We Have Love, Darlin´Can You Hear Me, Make Me Feel The Music, Summer Love & It´s Your Choice.

Musicians on the Hot Spell Album: Craig Ruhnke and others.

Sweet Feelings

United Artists 1975

Tracks: I Need My Woman´s Love, Sweet Feelin´, Turn The Lights Down Low, We´re Two Lucky People, Most Peculiar Way, The Key, Summer Girl, You´re The One, My World, Lonely Man, Baby We Can Make It & I´ll Always Love You.

Musicians on the Sweet Feelings album: Craig Ruhnke and others.

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