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Les Emmerson formed Ottawa's Staccatos in 1963, featuring singer/disc jockey Dean Hagopian, and emerged in the mid-'60's with some recordings on Allied Records. However, their first single of prominence was "Small Town Girl" which was picked up by Paul White for Capitol Records. Through the financial backing of journalist Sandy Gardiner, The Staccatos launched their next release called "Moved To California". In 1966 "Let's Run Away" won Best Produced Single and Vocal Instrumental Group Of The Year Junos.

They began to receive more notice with gigs in Toronto's Yorkville Village after the release of "Half Past Midnight" (1967) which became a national hit and won another JUNO award for Best Produced Single.

Around this time they hooked up with Coca-Cola Company for some radio jingles and shared half an LP recorded at Hallmark Studios with The Guess Who called 'A Wild Pair' on Jack Richardson's Nimbus Records. The album was a big seller prompting Capitol U.S. to release "Half Past Midnight" along with a commitment to record new material in L.A.

Though they received a lot of hype in California from the record label, the group was seen as being 'too Beach Boy sounding' and The Staccatos records failed. They would soon change their name to The Five Man Electrical Band after the title of The Staccatos second album in 1969 and commuted back and forth to Los Angeles recording sides for Capitol Records. The first single from this batch was "It Never Rains On Maple Lane".

When their deal with Capitol ended they signed to MGM Records (Canada) who released "Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)" from the movie 'Moonshine War'. The record did little as did its follow-up "Hello Melinda Goodbye" which featured a b-side called "Signs" which garnered some interest on LA radio. MGM flipped the record over and re-issued it but nothing happened.

In 1971 Five Man Electrical band signed with a little label owned by writer Jimmy Webb and producer Dallas Smith called Lionel Records. They re-issued "Signs" from the band's first full album Goodbyes & Butterflies (shortly after changing some cover art) and the single went to No.3 in the U.S. and No.4 in Canada selling more than 2 million copies worldwide.

Later in 1971 they released "Absolutely Right" which went to No.3 in Canada and Top-20 in the U.S. By 1973 they were exhausted and called it quits, though Emmerson continued recording as Five Man Electrical Band until 1975. After this, he remained in California and started a record label called Perfect with engineer Mark Smith (BTO, Pure Prairie League), Buck Rhinegold and Joe Gottfried. Following this he returned to Ottawa in 1981, resumed a solo career which had actually been going on during the Five Man Electrical Band and played briefly in The Cooper Brothers. He finally opened his own recording facility in the Ottawa area.

In 1986, Five Man Electrical Band reformed for a one-off benefit concert which has lead into a fun Eastern Canada tour every year with no business pressures. The song "Signs" was even revived by hairspray band Tesla in 1990. Emmerson would later buy back the rights to the entire Five Man Electrical Band catalogue (having invested wisely in computer technology) and issued a 'best of' CD in the '90's.