Blue Northern was formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1977. Its initial band composition was Jimmy Wilson (rhythm guitar and pedal steel), Garry Comeau (lead guitar and violin), Lee Roy Stephens (bass) and Brady Gustafson (drums). They were later joined by guitarist Ray O'Toole and vocalist-guitarist Billy Cowsill. O'Toole had been a professional musician and songwriter since 1967, co-founding the Northwest Company in that year and remaining with the band for various periods between 1967 and 1974. Northwest Company had a number of hit singles in British Columbia. O'Toole later joined the band Shakedown, which was signed to Casino Records, though releasing only one single during its 1976-1977 existence. Cowsill had been a professional musician for a comparable period to that of O'Toole, having previously achieved international success with The Cowsills in the 1960s.