Alex Machin is a Glasgow born, Toronto raised singer/songwriter best known for his work as the lead vocalist for A Foot in Coldwater.
A Foot in Coldwater consisted of five extraordinary musicians who enjoyed success through the 70’s with the release of four albums and whose biggest hit single “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” can still be heard on the airways today — almost 50 years later!
Alex is a unionized ACTRA (The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) member. His distinctive voice has been heard on television and radio jingles for such companies as Molsons, Budweiser, Chrysler, Hostess, McCain Foods and Coca-Cola.
Alex currently spends his time song writing and recording in his home studio and hopes to perform again when the world returns to normal.
Alex Machin was born in Glasgow, Scotland. At the same time as he was learning to talk, it seems he was also learning to sing: a natural born performer. Family legend has him singing in the backyard of his uncle’s house while his uncle secretly tossed coins from the window. At that tender age, you can only assume he must have thought it rained money whenever he broke into song.
His parents emigrated to Toronto, Canada when he was 3. By the time Alex graduated high school and started working a traditional 9 to 5 job, he was making more money at his weekend singing gigs. He honed his vocal skills and front-man talents with such local bands as the Christopher Edward Campaign and Island.
In the early 70’s, well-known, successful Toronto band Nucleus was going through a line up change and Alex and Paul Naumann, a guitar virtuoso, caught their eye and vice versa. Other band members included Hughie Leggat and Danny Taylor (both formerly with the popular Lords of London) and Bob Horne. Paul and Alex were invited to move into the band’s farmhouse. Alex quit his daytime job and left the comforts of the family home in the city for the farm fields of Brougham, Ontario (120 acres to be exact) where the band could practice from morning to night undisturbed. The new line up performed quite a few shows and festivals as Nucleus. A name change proposed by management was adopted (albeit perhaps somewhat reluctantly) and Nucleus officially became “A Foot in Coldwater”.
A Foot in Coldwater (AFIC) released their first self-titled album in 1972. It included the hit single “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” which climbed to the top 10 in Canada. The success of the first album spawned the release of the appropriately titled second album “A Second Foot in Coldwater” in 1973. Two singles from that album – “(Isn’t Love Unkind) In My Life” and “Love is Coming” – helped further establish the band’s success. In 1974 their third — and first American album – All Around Us — was released. For American consumption, the hit single “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” was re-included as a track. Once again, it climbed the Canadian charts to the top 10. A fourth album – Breaking Through – followed shortly thereafter.
Recorded footage of AFIC performances from this era are difficult to find despite the fact the band played shows from coast to coast. One piece of footage is the band’s performance on Rollin’ on the River, a musical variety television program hosted by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.
By 1977, with tensions running high, the group disbanded. Disillusioned with the break-up of the band (mid tour no less) Alex decided to depart for the big city lights of Los Angeles in the late 1970’s.
While in Los Angeles, Alex found some success for the next four years as a Staff Songwriter for United Artists Publishing Company and Preferred Sound Recording Studio. This gave him a chance to really develop his song writing skills. And he met some very interesting musicians and actors in the process. Gary Turnbull, a LA based lawyer, and friend was instrumental in furthering Alex’s musical career. Alex recorded a few showcase demos, some of which are now available on YouTube.
Through Gary, Alex hooked up with Robyn Robins, a former founding member of the Bob Seger Band, and together they formed “Champion”. They returned to Robyn’s native Michigan where they recruited new members Dave Rose and John Duva and toured. The highlight of Alex’s Michigan time includes working with Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) on a song Alex had written while in LA and Mark singing background vocals. And yes, Alex still has that audio tape!
In 1983, Frank Davies’ record label Daffodil (the band’s label for their first 3 albums) released a two set CD of the band songs entitled “Footprints, Volume 1” and “Footprints, Volume 2.”
Alex was lured back to Canada by the international success of other home-grown Canadian acts, something which had eluded A Foot in Coldwater. Bill Wade (ex-Moxy) joined the lineup as did Ashley Mulford (ex-Sad Café). Champion released its first album (“Champion Featuring Alex Machin”) on Solid Gold Records in 1984. The first single “I’d Lie to You for Your Love (and That’s the Truth)” was well received. The accompanying video for the single received regular rotation on Much Music. Unfortunately, the release of the album coincided with the demise of Solid Gold Records which fell into receivership, taking the album and video with it. The only known remaining version of the video is a grainy recording taken from a television program.
In the late 1980’s Alex discovered the lucrative commercial business and sang various television and radio jingles for such companies as Molson, Budweiser, McCain, Chrysler and Hostess. He passed the rigorous enrolment one must go through to become a unionized ACTRA (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists).
In 1988, the original members of A Foot in Coldwater reunited for the first time since their split in 1977 (sans keyboard player Bob Horne who was replaced by Rick Lamb of Copper Penny) for a successful summer tour. The tour kicked off with a sold-out show on May 31, 1988 at the Diamond Club in Toronto.
This was a bit of a quiet decade in terms of performances. Alex spent time raising his three sons. It was also the decade of Sunday night jam sessions in Toronto. Alex and some of his favourite musician friends (Kim Hunt and Jim Samson, ex-Zon, to name a few) could be found jamming in clubs like Bleachers.
In the mid 1990’s the “Champion Featuring Alex Machin” album was resurrected and released on CD in Europe under the Long Island Record label.
In 1996 A Foot in Coldwater participated in the 4-disc compilation CD release in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Juno Awards entitled “Oh What a Feeling”. All funds raised by the CD release were donated to charity. The band members received an award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) for over one million units of sale.
In 1998, the first three A Foot in Coldwater albums were re-issued on CD along with a double “Best Of” album.
In 2000, Alex was asked by the CBC to participate in their Canada Day live broadcast evening show in a segment entitled “Rock and Roll Legends” from Parliament Hill in Ottawa. A medley of famous Canadian acts was put together with such other notable performers as Lighthouse, the Stampeders, Kelly Jay (Crowbar), Nick Gilder and Ian Thomas. Over 100,000 people attended the show including then Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
In October of 2001, AFIC was invited to participate in The Benefit in Support of the Canadian Red Cross USA Appeal. The event was sponsored by Q107 and held at The Docks. They jumped at the opportunity to help raise funds to support those affected by the tragic events of 9/11.
In 2002, A Foot in Coldwater officially reunited for a second time for a short tour with David Aplin (Lee Aaron) replacing Paul Naumann on lead guitar.
Long-time “Foot” keyboardist Rick Lamb passed away of cancer in 2004. Alex and the band took his death quite hard and decided to take an extended break from touring as A Foot in Coldwater after organizing and performing at the Rick Lamb Memorial Concert in June 2004.
In late 2004 Alex made a surprising decision to join Moxy as their lead singer. He toured Texas (where Moxy is hugely popular) with the band and in August 2005 City TV had them perform two of their hit songs live on Breakfast Television. Alex left Moxy in 2008.
In early 2009 a Foot in Coldwater reunited to play a fundraising event with Mike Hall (Killer Dwarfs, Helix) replacing Dave Aplin on guitar and Grant Slater replacing long-time keyboardist Rick Lamb.
In late 2009, original Foot guitarist Paul Naumann passed away.
In 2011 A Foot in Coldwater re-booted and kicked off its touring for that year with a sold-out show at the Sound Academy in April 2011. Rick Spyder (Hotel California) replaced Mike Hall on guitar.
In June of 2011 they played the highly respected Mississauga Waterfront Festival which was celebrating its 15-year anniversary. Bob McAlpine (Pretzel Logic, Brass Transit) took over lead guitar duties. You can find some wonderful photos by Trent Richer and Lee-Ann Richer from this show (and a few others) in the gallery tab for this decade.
Further gigs ensued in this decade including a return to the Sound Academy in 2012. Other highlights include Q107’s Jingle Ball in 2013 and the HaveRock Revival Festival in Havelock, Ontario in July of 2016.
In November of 2019 “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” was nominated into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame with a live performance which included Alex, Danny Taylor, and Hughie Leggat.
By March of 2020, live musical performances, along with life in general, were halted with the emergence of a once in a century pandemic. Alex has taken this time to re-focus on his love of song writing and is currently working on laying down a few recordings in his home studio with the help of some Foot members (Danny Taylor, Mike Hall). Stay tuned!
And A Foot in Coldwater hopes to tour again in the near future once the world returns to normal.
“Make Me Do” has been fondly referred to as the Canadian “Whiter Shade of Pale” by well-known music journalist Wilder Penfield III.
“Make Me Do” was ranked number 44 in the book entitled “The Top 100 Canadian Singles” by Bob Mersereau, a prolific music columnist and long-time arts reporter for CBC Television.
“(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” and “(Isn’t Love Unkind) In My Life” continue to receive daily airplay on radio stations today. And “Make Me Do” continues to annually find itself on various prestigious Top 100 lists.