Corey and Trina are one of this province's better-known recording acts. They are most famous for the song "The Northern Lights of Labrador", but were also renowned for their comedy act, and toured incessantly through every nook and cranny of this province for 20 years or more.
The curtain is lowering on the duo now. I had heard some weeks ago that Trina was not well; that she was sick with cancer and the prognosis was bleak. However, I held off announcing this until now, when this message from Corey was posted at the Corey & Trina Group on facebook.com:
"Uncle Corey would like everyone to know that for a number of months Aunt Trina has been waging a brave battle with cancer that is in an advanced stage now," wrote Shawn Richard Fulford, who started the group. "She's been receiving loving care from Uncle Corey and Corina, and has been in the thoughts of her entire family since she first felt unwell. Anyone wanting to send well wishes and say hi can do so here at this group."
I was pretty close with Corey & Trina during the 1980s, when I worked as a writer with The Newfoundland Herald. In fact, I had the pleasure of being the first to put them "On the Cover of The Newfoundland Herald", which was their take on the song by Doctor Hook. The photo posted here is from that shoot and, yes, that's me with the bad Eighties hair.
I happened to be there one night I believe at the Traveler's Inn while Corey was dressed up as Tina Turner. This alone was spectacle enough but, right in the middle of the song, Corey came in contact with live electricity and gave himself a shock. I mean a MAJOR shock - so much that he thought he might die.
It's bizarre, but as I was researching this item, I pulled one of their records from the shelf to check a song title and guess what I found inside? A typewritten transcript of an interview with Corey in which he discussed this incident. So here it is:
"An awful lot of people have mentioned it to me since it happened - they can't seem to forget it. We were up on the stage Tuesday night and were doing the Tina Turner skit, which we've been doing for some time now, and just carrying on.
"I had the mic in my right hand and went over to one side of the stage while I was performing and just decided to lean against the pole that I had my lights on. The mic of course is metal and the pole is all metal, lights and everything, and the wires were strapped around the light pole and one of the lights had a ground plug broken - and that's what I laid my hand on, so the lights weren't grounded...
"The whole 110 volts was hooked up to the one breaker so that I was getting the whole shot going right through my body. Anyway, I stuck to the light pole and I couldn't get free. I was just shaking to pieces... my left hand was stuck to the light pole and my right hand was stuck to the mic and all my muscles - this is what electricity does to you - I had no control over my muscles at all...
"The music was still going and, where I'm branded as a comedian, the audience wasn't sure whether I was carrying on or whether I was getting that big a voltage. They knew that I was getting a shock, but they weren't sure whether or not I was just getting a little shock and was just carrying on. But I was getting the full voltage. And I was pulling so hard to get away and, since I couldn't get my hands free, I pulled the lights down on top of me.
"In doing that, the whole metal pole fell across my chest. I was down on the floor for about a minute with that voltage still going through me (it was about 30 seconds while I was standing). I had electrical burns on my hand and arm, and my forehead, my face. I was on the floor and couldn't speak, couldn't shout for help...
"At that point it was a battle for my life because I knew that I was dying. It was just me and the electricity. So I fought so hard that I managed to break loose. I hopped to my feet and continued my skit - but nobody laughed! (Corey laughed as he said this.) My eyes were right wide and my face nearly white.
"When the skit was over I told Trina not to touch anything. We didn't go near the thing for the rest of the night. We went back and did another two sets after that. I talked to several electricians afterward and they found it was just carelessness on my part. I should have treated electricity with more care and caution than I did.
"Groups like us who are not into lots of equipment can run everything off 110 volts, but big rock bands plug directly into 220. And a 220 of course would just fry you. They said there's no chance if you get struck by 220 - you die!"
Yes, that was intense and scary. But that was the exception - there were so many hilarious shows, great times and fun interviews. Corey and Trina are both gracious, down-to-earth people, the kind who really would give you proverbial shirt off their back.' One day, for example, Corey had a visitor from one of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Rather than politely send him on his way, Corey invited the canvasser in for a cup of tea, listened to everything he had to say and then explained all of his religious beliefs to the gentleman. Corey and Trina were both like that polite and genuine and generous.
Corey and Trina invited me to their house on two occasions. The first time, Corey barbecued some delicious steaks indoors, on charcoal! How? By putting the Hibachi in the fireplace, so all the fumes went up the chimney. (Though you probably shouldn't try this at home.) I thought he was insane until I tasted the steak, which was delicious. When I asked why it tasted so good, Corey said, "Barbour's steak spice", which I have been using ever since. While eating dinner, they asked if I had ever tried squid. I said "No, I don't like it too rubbery."
"Oh, you just haven't had it cooked the right way," Trina said, and invited me back a few weeks later to try it. They were right. It was delicious; light tasting, tender and not chewy at all.
On behalf of the thousands of people who were touched by this duo over the years. I extend thanks to Corey and Trina for the many smiles they brought us, and their contribution to the cultural development of this province. You have touched so many people with your music and comedy.
And thank you Trina, for "The Northern Lights of Labrador". This song will live forever as a classic in Newfoundland music.
Oh, and your stuffed squid are still the best I've ever tasted!
Note: If you would like to send memories or best wishes to Corey and Trina, you can do so at www.facebook.com, by logging in and searching for the Corey & Trina Group, or send a note directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.