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Mulligan’s Stew: My Life … So Far

By Terry David Mulligan

Review By Vanessa Colantonio

November 4, 2013

BC Studies no. 177 Spring 2013  | p. 194-95

Searching the Canadian literary pantry for a satisfying meal of rock and roll history can turn up very slim pickings indeed. Which is why British Columbia veteran DJ, VJ, and actor Terry David Mulligan’s memoir of moving through the western Canadian and national rock music and entertainment industries hits the spot perfectly. In Mulligan’s Stew (named after the author’s current CKUA, Alberta radio program) “TDM” recounts many fascinating stories of growing up in the BC Interior and the Prairies, joining the RCMP in Alberta, and then making a radical career shift (by mid-1960s standards) into commercial radio broadcasting. From there, we follow Mulligan through the trials and tribulations, personal and professional, of moving through the mainstream and underground radio worlds of the late-1960s and early-1970s and into film and television acting before landing a pioneering position as host of CBC’s music video show “Good Rockin’ Tonite” in 1983. Mulligan then moved to a lengthy stint with Canada’s twenty-four music station (back in the day) MuchMusic, his visage engraved on the minds of a generation (including mine). From Vancouver, Mulligan hosted the west coast program, Much West, for sixteen years.

Most fascinating, although all too brief, are the book’s descriptions of the Vancouver music scene of the late-1960s, including the early years of Kitsilano-based radio station CFUN, the Fourth Avenue scene in general, the bands, and some of the venues. What Mulligan does share, however, makes very enjoyable reading. Also enjoyable are his recollections of interviews with artists as diverse as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa, James Brown, David Bowie, Neil Young, Tom Cochrane and Bryan Adams.

Yet Mulligan’s Stew, filled with entertaining and poignant tales of the author’s meetings with rock royalty (Canadian, American, and British), is also part-confessional: a bitter-sweet biography, peppered with loss and regret. Throughout his book Mulligan’s narrative does not come across as melancholy so much as wistful and wizened, having enjoyed the fun times and learned from the difficult ones.

All of which makes Mulligan’s Stew a very gratifying dish of rock and roll Canadiana.

Mulligan’s Stew: My Life … So Far
By Terry David Mulligan
Victoria and Surrey: Heritage House 2012. 240pp, $19.95 paper