Writers David Diamond and Mister Zero knew they had two pretty good songs, but it wasn’t until they put them together as a segue in rehearsal that the magic started to happen. When their band The Kings (also including keyboardist Sonny Keyes and drummer Max Styles) went into Toronto’s Nimbus 9 recording studio to make an indie album, singer/bassist Diamond and guitarist Zero had no idea that they would meet celebrated producer Bob Ezrin, who’d just recorded Pink Floyd’s No. 1 album “The Wall”.
The breakout classic-rock hit “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide,” with its driving, danceable beat, came to life in those Nimbus sessions. It was when Ezrin agreed to mix them that he realized that while the talent was there, the band needed his studio expertise. He first suggested that there was something wrong with the segue, and he told the guys to “fix it.” Later that day, Diamond had changed the chord structure for “This Beat Goes On” and then Zero spent a couple of weeks re-writing the lyrics, to get to the arrangement that every classic-rock listener now knows so well.
But it was the original rough mix that Ezrin took to Elektra Records in Los Angeles, where – despite their status as relative unknowns d – the band was offered a worldwide deal. That happened at least partly because some teenagers heard the songs through an open office window on La Cienega Boulevard and began dancing, convincing Elektra executives that The Kings were hit material. As Zero told Goldmine magazine in October of 2020, “When opportunity came knocking, we were ready, because we’d worked hard.”
Elektra released “Switchin’ to Glide” as a single, but it didn’t get much notice. It was only after the band and some of the promotion people at Elektra pressured the higher-ups that the segue was released. That’s when the phones started to ring at radio stations. As Chicago radio legend Bob Stroud remembered, “It sounded like a hit immediately,” and then it started to break in major markets across North America. The new single rose quickly on the charts, reminiscent of earlier hit medleys by Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees, like The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” and Galt MacDermot’s “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In,” as recorded by The Fifth Dimension.
“This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide” stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 23 weeks, and peaked at No. 43 on December 13, 1980. It reached the Top 10 on Toronto’s CHUM FM and in Chicago, but it was massive airplay at U.S. stations like mid-West powerhouse WLS-AM, WRIF in Detroit, KROQ in L.A., and WNEW in New York City that got Elektra excited, and The Kings hit the road starting with opening slots for Jeff Beck. On the West coast leg, they debuted in L.A. at the Whisky a-Go-Go, and gave an electrifying performance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand for ABC TV, inspiring Clark to say, “These guys have worked so hard and have hit it so well...”
Back in Canada, the song reached No. 59 on RPM’s Top 100 chart, and No. 8 on the Canadian content chart. It was also named “One of the Top 100 Radio Programmers Picks of the Decade” by Album Network Magazine U.S. The Toronto Star called it “The Almost Official Song of Toronto” in 2018. It was voted No. 72 in The Top 100 Canadian Singles of All Time, compiled by Canadian music expert Bob Mersereau in 2010. It routinely makes Top 100 lists on radio stations, recently No. 37 on Toronto’s Boom FM list “Top Canadian Songs,” compiled in 2020.
The Kings are Here album reached Billboard’s Top 100 album chart, and went Gold in Canada, earning The Kings a JUNO Award nomination for Most Promising Group of the Year, and they were named Most Promising New Band by Cashbox Magazine USA. Since the CD release, it’s passed Platinum status.
Forty years later, after more than 2,000 shows across North America, sharing stages with international stars like Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Bob Seger, and many others, as well as Canadian artists Loverboy, April Wine, Jeff Healey, Teenage Head, and more, The Kings continue to perform their most famous piece for fans old and new. Zero told Inside Halton magazine that, “People still gravitate towards us because the music is still good… If you put out something that’s good, it will stand the test of time.”
Because there never was a video for the segue, The Kings produced one themselves, using live footage from more than 20 years of shows. The production has drawn incredible praise from the fans, who’ve viewed it more than 4,200,000 times. The video was made as the basis for their documentary, Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder, which tells their story with a lot of their trademark humour.
The song was declared a SOCAN Classic in 2016.
Songwriters Mister Zero (John Picard) and David Diamond (David Broadbent) were founding members of The Kings with Sonny Keyes (keyboards) and Max Styles (drums).