Skip Prokop, Founder Of ‘70s Band Lighthouse, Dead At 74

I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Skip Prokop, who was the founder, drummer, main songwriter and sometimes lead vocalist of the Seventies Jazz-Rock colossus Lighthouse. Mixing Rock with the jazz sensibilities of a horn section was a small cottage industry in the early ‘70s, and for a couple of years Lighthouse ran with the big dogs of the genre, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Tower of Power.

But Lighthouse upped the ante on these other artists by adding a four-piece string section to their four-piece horn section. This made for a very big, deep sound, and at 13 members it surely made for one of the biggest Rock bands ever in terms of population.

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The band is probably best known for its 1971 hit “One Fine Morning” which was penned by Prokop and nicely illustrative of the band’s huge sound. Lead singer Bob McBride had that classic ‘70s Rock voice, and it’s fascinating to hear how they weaved the strings in and out of this energetic barn-burner. The band had another hit in 1973 with “Pretty Lady”, another Prokop number and one on which he also took the lead vocals. And you can see the guy was an amazing drummer too.

Another distinguishing feature of Lighthouse was that they were a Canadian band at a time when the Canadian Rock scene was still in its infancy. Skip Prokop had founded Canada’s premier psychedelic late-‘60s band The Paupers, and from the ashes of that band he and his partner keyboardist Paul Hoffert went on to form Lighthouse. Together with the Guess Who, Lighthouse led the way for homegrown Canadian Rock as the Seventies were breaking, opening the gates for the flood of great Canadian Rock that has flowed freely ever since.

Skip Prokop was not just one of the fathers of an entire country’s Rock scene, he was also one of the fathers of the entire Jazz-Rock genre. That is one hell of a legacy in my book. Rest in peace you old soldier.

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