Monday, May 14, 2012

Prism - Don't Let Him Know

Prism's "Don't Let Him Know" seems like the perfect follow-up to Bryan Adams, as their one U.S. hit was actually written by Adams and Jim Vallance.  The history of Prism, however, goes all the way back to the early 1970's, when producer Bruce Fairbairn and songwriter Jim Vallance formed the band.  Over time, Prism became successful north of the boarder, with ten top 100 hits between 1977 and 1981.

Even when Vallance started working with Bryan Adams, he remained active (as a songwriter) with Prism, and in the summer of 1981, Vallance and Adams wrote "Don't Let Him Know" for Prism.  Vallance has subsequently stated that the song was influenced by "Bette Davis Eyes," and I think that you can hear that, especially in the drums.  In any event, "Don't Let Him Know" would go on to be Prism's only top 40 hit in the U.S., making them an official one-hit wonder (although, to be fair, they had three other songs that broke the U.S. top #100).

I don't think that an official video was ever made for the song (if any readers know of one, please let me know in the comments).  As a result, I have gone with a clip from Solid Gold, although, sadly, the Solid Gold Dancers do not make an appearance.  Prism broke up in 1982, although the band later re-formed and continues to play to this day.

Coll trivia fact:  Bruce Fairbairn would go on to become a hugely successful record producer for KrokusLoverboy, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and AC/DC among others until his untimely passing in 1999.


  1. Hi - I noticed a few HUGE discrepancies in your story of Prism's formation. Jim Vallance was the originator of what became Prism. The project was Bruce Fairburn producing Jim Vallance's songs. They didn't come up with the name (or even a singer - Ron Tabak) until they got a deal (with GRT Canada). Jim Vallance played drums in the first version of the band (under the pseudonym Rodney Higgs), which also included Bruce Fairburn on trombone (They had a horn section). The guitarist was Lindsay Mitchell, who played on all the recording sessions.

    After the first tour, the record company wanted a younger, more cohesive group (and Jim Vallance didn't like performing live - he was mostly a songwriter), so Lindsay got his former bandmates from "Seeds Of Time"and formed the new, younger 5-piece version of Prism. This version of the group (Lindsay Mitchell, Ron Tabak, Al Harlow (bass), Rocket Norton (Drums), John Hall (keyboards) stayed that way for 3 more huge-selling albums (in Canada)- See Forever Eyes, Armageddon and Young and Restless. All three were produced by Bruce Fairburn with songs mostly written by Jim Vallance (with a couple by Harlow and Mitchell). This is when Jim started his songwriting partnership with Bryan Adams.

    Prism got a huge 5 album deal with Capitol Records in the US, got rid of the singer and the keyboard player and enlisted a new singer, Henry Small and recorded the album "Small Change" featuring the song above. The band had changed too much for their Canadian fans, and, in 1982, the 3 remaining members quit, leaving the new singer and the manager, Bruce Allen withe name and the four album deal.

    The band had been playing together, almost non-stop, through 2 bands, Seeds of Time and Prism since 1967.

    They were in talks and rehearsals for a reunion of the 5 in 1984 when Ron Tabak died.
    In 1987, they reformed with Lindsay, Al and Rocket and added Darcy D on vocals and Andrew Lorimer on keyboards (me).

    Prism is still going now - with Al Harlow as singer/guitarist.

  2. Andrew, thanks so much for checking in. Obviously, with lesser-known bands like Prism, biographical information can be sketchy. For the blog, I primarily relied on Wikipedia, and you may want to contact them to correct the band's history. I have incorporated your comments into my admittedly brief history of the band; please let me know if there is still anything that is off.

    And by the by, do you happen to know if an official video of "Don't Let Him Know" was ever made (and if so, where I could obtain a copy for the blog?)