Obituaries, Feb. 9, 2023
Mendelson Joe (born Birrel Josef Mendelson), a critically-acclaimed Toronto singer-songwriter, guitarist, and painter and an outspoken political activist, died on Feb.
By Kerry Doole
Mendelson Joe (born Birrel Josef Mendelson), a critically-acclaimed Toronto singer-songwriter, guitarist, and painter and an outspoken political activist, died on Feb. 7, at age 78
His friend, poet Robert Priest, announced the news in a Facebook post, on Feb. 8. It reads, in part, "My dear friend Mendelson Joe left the building yesterday morning as planned. And now Joe is released from the worsening imprisonment of his body by Parkinson’s. Thank goodness for the version of MAID that allows the person themselves to determine their own threshold for insufferable reduced quality of life."
He began performing as a blues musician under the name Joe Mendelson in 1964, and four years later, he joined with guitarist Mike McKenna to form the band McKenna Mendelson Mainline, which was active until 1972 and reformed briefly in 1975.
In 1975, Joe adopted his current name and began performing as a solo artist, frequently collaborating with musicians such as Ben Mink, Gwen Swick and Colin Linden. He also began to make a name for himself as a contemporary artist, pursuing painting, often of portraits of popular musical figures.
Look for tributes to Mendelson Joe in FYI next week. Sources: Wikipedia, Robert Priest
Joe (Joel Lindsay) Toole, guitarist of popular Toronto rock band The Phantoms, died on Feb. 1, at age 60, of cancer.
Toole had recently suffered a stroke. While receiving care, it was discovered that he had an aggressive form of stage 4 lung cancer that spread to other parts of his body.
Coming from New Brunswick, Toole spent several decades contributing to Toronto's music landscape. From trading licks on stage with Jeff Healey with his band The Phantoms to playing every Tuesday at Grossman's Tavern with his old-timey blues project Brokenjoe. He was also a longtime bartender at two major Toronto live music venues, Lee's Palace and The Horseshoe Tavern.
The Phantoms were a blues rock band originally from Ottawa and formed in 1986 from the remnants of another band, The Rapid Waters Band. They made a name for themselves in the Toronto bars during the mid to late eighties. A debut indie cassette, Alive At The Diamond, was followed in 1990 by the album, Pleasure Puppets, out via a distribution deal with A&M. They would release one more album as a band in 1992, Raw, before frontman Jerome Godboo pursued his solo career.
Toole later reunited with Godboo in blues/roots trio Brokenjoe (also featuring noted bassist Alec Fraser), and he sang, wrote, and played guitar and banjo in that group. Brokenjoe released the album Long Walk To Nowhere in 2006 on the Electro-fi label (read an Exclaim! review here).
Jerome Godboo paid tribute to Toole in this Facebook post: "Joe Toole has passed away, and now it’s time to fondly remember him. He died peacefully in bed with his wife Pamela singing him songs that they both had learnt & adored. Joe had some really great qualities as a man and remained true to his own sense of humour, style and character. I was lucky that Joe took me on in an older brother-type way, which means that he encouraged me and guided me to discover great musicians, but he was way too wild for me to hang around with!"
Alec Fraser Jr also posted on Facebook: "I’m grateful to have spent some time with bandmate Joe Toole before his passing on Thursday morning. A giant in every way. Condolences to Pamela, family and friends. R.I.P big guy."
Sources: Discogs, Basicfunerals.ca, raised on canadian radio, Jerome Godboo
Larry Rivera, a singer who was a legendary fixture on the entertainment scene in Kauai, Hawaii, has died at age 92.
His career spanned over seven decades, and he worked alongside Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii. Also known as “Mr. Coco Palms,” Rivera performed at the famed Coco Palms Resort until it closed.
Due to the beauty of the resort and its rising popularity as a popular Hawaiian destination, the Hollywood blockbuster Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley, began production in 1961. During production, Rivera met Presley on the set, and they became fast friends and remained close.
Source: Hawaii News Now, 2911 Media