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Prism to close Golden Spike Days

You don't have to have been a Grade 9 student back in 1977 to revel in the rock group, PRISM. It just helps.

You don't have to have been a Grade 9 student back in 1977 to revel in the rock group, PRISM. It just helps.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Al Harlow told The Tri-City News that his Vancouver-bred band continues to attract fans from its birth year, when its classic song Spaceship Superstar rocketed to the top of the Canadian song charts, to today, when those who were old enough to lend an ear to PRISM's original sound now congegrate at concerts with others one and two generations younger.

"When we do summer outdoor shows, it gets interesting," said Harlow, whose band is the closing act Sunday for Golden Spike Days at Port Moody's Rocky Point Park at 4:15 p.m. on July 3.

"Down front, young [people] basically bang their heads on the security gates; then there are the little bit older ones who came to the clubs and hockey rinks to see us not too, too long ago; and then there are the ones at the back who don't need to arrange babysitters anymore and actually move their lips to the words."

Originally a five-piece ensemble, PRISM is now four: Harlow, drummer Gary Grace, keyboardist Marc Gladstone and bassist Tad Goodard. Harlow counts PRISM as having a total of 16 different players over the years, including the late Ron Tabak, whom he replaced as lead vocalist after Tabak died on Christmas Day, 1984 due a head injury suffered in freak traffic accident. Reports have it that Tabak elected to bicycle to Harlow's to celebrate the festive season at night on snow-covered roads without a headlight or helmet and was struck by a passing vehicle (after being taken to hospital, Tabak was released by doctors who did not detect anything wrong but soon after was arrested after becoming abusive, with police believing he was drunk. Later discovered unconscious in his jail cell, Tabak was rushed to hospital but later died from a blood clot in his brain).

Harlow, who joined the band in 1978, helped reform the band in 1987 and, the next year, the band produced its ninth album, Over 60 Minutes with Prism and, five years later, Jericho. Big Black Sky, released in 2008, became PRISM's most-recent disc, the group's 13th.

There were plenty of bumps along the way, Harlow said, with Tabak's death obviously being the biggest.

"It's easier to merge a three-piece band, like The Police, instead of a five-piece band," Harlow said. "And you just hope the lead singer doesn't die. It's very hard to have all the original guys but it's as authentic as it can be. I always hit the high harmonies with Ron, I just get to do the verses and choruses, too, now."