Pat Travers was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Soon after picking up the guitar at age 12,
he saw Jimi Hendrix perform in Ottawa. Travers began playing in bands early in his teens; his
first bands were the Music Machine (not to be confused with the Californian
psychedelic/garage band of the same name), Red Hot, and Merge, which played in clubs in the
While performing with Merge, he was noticed by rock artist Ronnie Hawkins, who invited
Travers to perform with him. In his early twenties Travers moved to London and signed a
recording contract with the Polydor label. His self-titled debut album was released in 1976,
and featured bassist Peter “Mars” Cowling, who would become a mainstay in Travers’ band for
several years. An appearance on the German TV show Rockpalast in November 1976 was
later released on DVD under the title Hooked on Music. This performance showcases an early
version of Travers’ band featuring Cowling and drummer
During 1977, Travers added a second guitarist to his band, changed drummers twice including
using Clive Edwards, and by the time Heat in the Street was released in 1978 had put together
the Pat Travers Band. This grouping featured Travers on vocals and guitar, Pat Thrall on
guitar, Cowling on bass, and Tommy Aldridge on drums and percussion. The band toured
heavily, also supporting Rush on their Drive til You Die tour in support of A Farewell to Kings.
The guitar Travers most often appeared with on stage and on album covers in the band’s early
years was a 1964/65 model double cutaway, double [humbucker] pickup Gibson Melody Maker.
The band’s next release was a live album entitled Live! Go for What You Know, which charted in
the Top 40 in the United States and included the tune “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)”
(originally recorded by Little Walter, credited to Stan Lewis), which climbed even higher on the
charts, entering the Top 20. “Snortin’ Whiskey” was a major American radio hit from 1980’s
Crash and Burn.