Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Obituary: Wray Downes - The Grand Man of the Piano

Wray Downes was a gifted pianist, an Oscar Peterson protégé blessed with perfect pitch and impeccable timing and a be-bop man who possessed one of the most expressive right hands in all of jazz. Mr. Peterson – and many others in the field – recognized Mr. Downes as a formidable talent.In 1980, Mr. Peterson told author and former Globe and Mail jazz critic Mark Miller of his deep respect, in competitive terms, for his shy, unassuming former student. “Wray’s the kind of guy – you look up and all of a sudden, you’re bleeding. If you go up onstage in a group, and he’s in the other group, quietly he’ll take his lumps out on you.”When Mr. Downes died on March 18, at 89 from lung cancer, ...
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Obituary: Neil Peart - Rush's drummer was one of the world's best

Neil Peart was not like most drummers. Seen from above, his sprawling kit resembled a painter’s pallet, with myriad drumheads and cymbals providing the bold primary and pastel shades of his art. He played his instrument with virtuosity and athleticism, pushing himself to the outermost limits of his creativity and ability with distinctive fills and complex solos that helped to make Rush such a formidable rock band.While most drummers are content to sit, dutifully holding down the backbeat, Mr. Peart was a restless soul with inexhaustible ambition and an insatiable curiosity that took him unexpected places. He traveled widely, rode motorcycles, collected vintage cars and Canadian art and read ...
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Obituary: Jack Scott - Canadian rock's forgotten man

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, there were few bigger stars than Jack Scott. With his signature mix of snarling rockers and soothing ballads, the Canadian-born, U.S.-based musician scored 19 hit singles in just 41 months, a feat achieved by only a handful of other pop acts, including the Beatles. And seven of those hits were on his self-titled debut album.Blessed with a superb baritone and a wide vocal range, Mr. Scott was one of early rock’s most gifted male singers, surpassed only by Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley. And, unlike Mr. Presley, he wrote his own songs.Mr. Scott’s death on Dec. 12, of congestive heart failure, led to an outpouring of tributes from musicians and fans all over the...
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Obituary: Crowbar frontman Kelly Jay - Larger than life

Kelly Jay with Pierre Trudeau
During the early 1970s, no musician wore his Canadian nationality more proudly on his sleeve than Blake Fordham, better known as Kelly Jay, the charismatic man mountain who fronted boogie-rockers Crowbar. At a time when many still shied away from overt flag-waving, Mr. Fordham, the singer and pianist behind the anthemic hit song “Oh What a Feeling,” unabashedly embraced a good-time nationalism in both his lyrics and clothing.“Kelly Jay and Crowbar made young Canadians feel cool about their country, about being Canadian and everything that stood for,” recalls Frank Davies, Crowbar’s original producer and publisher, who cited Mr. Fordham’s “Captain Canada” nickname, beaverskin hats, deerskin j...
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Obituary: Deane Cameron - Music executive passionately supported Canadian talent

With Stompin' Tom Connors
In the industry where he spent his entire working life, Deane Cameron was fondly known as Captain Canada, a passionate man with an unwavering commitment to musicians, a hilarious way with one-liners and a heart, many say, that was as big as the country itself. Too modest to embrace any superhero title, Mr. Cameron worked tirelessly to boost new and established Canadian pop and rock artists during his nearly 25 years as head of Capitol Records-EMI of Canada (renamed EMI Music Canada), where he famously started in the warehouse and worked his way up to president.Few have played a more vital role in this country’s musical culture. Among his many accomplishments, he coaxed Stompin’ Tom Connors o...
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