Joey Cee Remembers Tom Williams
Former Attic Records’ principal Tom Williams died at Georgian Bay Hospital on Sept. 8 at age 79.
By Joey Cee
Former Attic Records’ principal Tom Williams died at Georgian Bay Hospital on Sept. 8 at age 79. His passing followed multiple medical issues resulting from a vicious and unprovoked knife attack in late Oct. of 2022. What follows is a fond remembrance of the man by longtime friend and one-time associate Joey Cee.
A gentleman to the end is how best I can describe my long-time friend Tom Williams. Always with an infectious smile, he would approach his business day as a fun day.
I last visited Tom at the hospital, along with another dear friend and colleague Keith Hampshire and his wife Cathie, early this week. To see someone still in good spirits, joking and taking his next journey as par for the course, is beyond surreal. There were no words I could conjure up to express my sadness but also to understand the reason for him wanting to end his life this way. I was experiencing a cornucopia of silent emotions, to say the least.
Back in 1967, Tom was a hustler, buying out the all-night programming and re-selling the ads for “Where It’s At” during those overnight hours. He was very likeable, always friendly, witty and charming – all the ingredients for a great salesman. We would spend many times in the office chatting it up and sparring with our dry sense of humour.
We lost contact post-CKFH days but later found ourselves out of radio and into records and publishing. Tom went on to become the National Promotions Director at WEA Records while I went full throttle into magazine publishing leading to the introduction of the Canadian music industry newspaper RECORD WEEK. At this point in time, Tom along with his partner and also a long-time friend of mine, the late Al Mair, blazed onto the music scene with their newly formed Attic Records in 1974.
The label was known for developing Canadian talent, including Anvil, Lee Aaron, Maestro Fresh Wes, The Nylons, Teenage Head, and Triumph. The company was also active in distributing international acts not affiliated with a major label, most successfully with Jennifer Warnes, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Katrina and the Waves, and Creed.
In 1999 they called it quits and Attic was no more. While Al continued actively in the business as a consultant, Tom broke away from the music industry and opened a successful restaurant/bar in Aurora called PALS, formerly owned by the Irish Rovers, and after several years set off for the sunny side of the world to settle in Laguna Beach, California where he ran a retail store aptly called My Laguna Office.
After several years soaking up the sun there he decided to head back to Barrie, Ontario in 2013 to settle into retirement by the water.
Shockingly, a year ago, he was brutally attacked and robbed at a Scarborough hotel and was seriously injured, causing him to endure many surgeries and remain in several hospitals for the past year.
After a surprising and shocking post on Facebook, Major Tom (as I used to call him) – as promised - left us on Friday Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. at his request and on his terms. To his very last breath, he proved he was worthy of the Takin' Care of Business Award Record Week presented to him with back in the mid-70s.