My parents and I arrived in Canada in 1956. My grandparents Nicholas and Maria Ierymenko made the crossing a year later. Reunited, we all moved into a big old house on Windermere Avenue in Toronto.  Both my parents found jobs but making ends meet was often a struggle.

School Days...

My Russian-speaking grandfather, who I called “Dyeda”, had been a physics teacher in Russia but couldn’t teach professionally in Canada. Dyeda was a teacher at heart, so naturally he started to tutor me – not that I knew he was doing it at the time!  A couple of years later we were building radio projects and Heathkit test instruments together.

By the time I was ten I’d built a basic set of test equipment for doing electronics work and I was refurbishing surplus radios on my own. I remember being completely fascinated by the surplus radio gear from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s you could buy so cheaply; the elaborate tuning mechanisms, giant transformers, hand-wound resistors – and tubes, hundreds of different tubes in all shapes and sizes!

Dyeda passed away in November of my 10th year.  I remember feeling shocked and I still feel the sadness. That was when I took up the guitar. Music became my solace, my inspiration and meditation and remains so today.

My grandfather helped me learn how to educate myself. I found school boring and tedious and I was frustrated because I knew it did not need to be that way. As soon as I was 16 and legally able, I quit school and took charge of my own education.

The very strange years...

Soon after I quit school I convinced ‘Gill’s TV’ to give me a day job as a TV repairman by demonstrating I could repair a TV. Most evenings I played music with a bunch of guys in the neighborhood. A few months later I began to participate in events of the time known as, “the late `60s.”  In a few months my participation expanded to 24/7 and nothing else seemed to matter for the next a year or two.

I took a room at Rochdale College where I continued having various unusual experiences. Without attending a single class, I obtaining a completely authentic but entirely baseless degree in neurophysiology – which alas I left hanging on my ‘ashram’ wall when I hurriedly departed from Rochdale just before it was hit with the waves of violence and dissolution that brought it all crashing down.

From there I eventually moved into the country north east of Toronto to engage in various inspired but ultimately unsuccessful social experiments.  Nothing reveals the true value of an idea better than conducting a sincere real-life test of it.

There was always a guitar, always music.  Somewhere along the way I began to think about using electronics to extract more tone and response from my guitar….