Obituaries, March 2, 2023
Jon Erickson, a veteran Canadian sound engineer and tour manager, died on Feb. 26, at age 66, of cancer.
By Kerry Doole
Jon Erickson, a veteran Canadian sound engineer and tour manager, died on Feb. 26, at age 66, of cancer.
Erickson was profiled by Brad Wheeler in The Globe and Mail in 2018. The feature notes that "Erickson has mixed the sound for such heavyweight artists as Bruce Cockburn, Rush and the Tragically Hip. He is speaking from San Francisco, where he's enjoying an off day on Cockburn's current North American tour. It's noon, and he's catching up on paperwork. He's doing paperwork because he's doubling as the tour manager in addition to handling the sound. 'It comes down to economics,' says Erickson, who has worked with Cockburn for some 25 years. 'With everybody downsizing now, it's multiple jobs.' Although he enjoys the tour-manager responsibilities – travel agent, bean counter and seen-it-all problem-solver – Erickson's first love is mixing sound, something he's done since he was 17.'
As news of his passing spread, Erickson's professional peers were quick to pay tribute on social media and in comments to FYI. Here is a selection:
Gord Sinclair, of The Tragically Hip, on Facebook: "The Hip were only ever as good as our crew and we were fortunate over the years to work with some of the best. We lost one of the great ones over the weekend, Jon Erickson. Jon mixed the band out front for years and brought smiles and laughter to the gig every day, despite how rough the road could be. A real pro. I’m grieving with his family, the Boys in the band and all our crew: THC, The Hip Crew! We couldn’t have done it without any of you. Love ya, Jon."
Bernie Finkelstein, manager of Bruce Cockburn, to FYI: "Jon Erickson was very special. He worked with Bruce Cockburn for around 30 years, first as a sound man, a job that he was fabulous at, then as a tour manager who also did sound and again he was great at both jobs. The thing that made him so outstanding was not only his skill and knowledge of which he had plenty but that he cared about doing his job and that it really mattered to him that things were done right.
And of course, he had a big personality that could give as well as take, whatever was thrown at him. He was irreplaceable and we are going to miss him, which we already do. RIP Jon....."
Doug McClement, Award-winning veteran Toronto audio engineer, on Facebook: "Sad to hear that my old friend (and Comfort Sound employee from 1989-93) Jon Erickson has finally lost his long battle with cancer. Jon was one of the top sound mixers in the country. Jon started mixing bands in and around Calgary in 1972. He came to Toronto the following year with a band called Trina and toured around Ontario for six months, opening some dates for Max Webster.
"At the time Kim Mitchell and his band were looking for a new sound person and approached him with the job. He spent five years on the road with Max Webster, who was signed to the same label as Rush and opened many concerts for them. Rush admired Jon’s work, hired him on as their foh [front of house] mixer, and he toured the world with them from 1980 – 89.
"By that time Jon was starting a family, so he left the road to stay around Toronto, working at Kingswood Music Theatre and Comfort Sound. He bought into a p.a. company called Bandaid and ran that for three years. Bandaid was sold to Jason Sound in 1999, which at the time was the largest p.a. company in Canada. Jon was the general manager for Jason/Westsun for seven years until it was purchased by Metalworks Productions, who kept Jon as head of audio. We had a lot of great adventures together. Safe travels, buddy."
Gary Topp, famed Toronto concert promoter, on Facebook: "Today, I heard a good friend lost his long, courageous fight against cancer. RIP Jon Erickson. No more pain. Worked with him for so many years. If you wanted the best job, Jon was one of those few guys who could and would deliver. Millions of people knew him indirectly as the sound engineer for the major leaguers like Bruce Cockburn, Rush, Tragically Hip, Max Webster, and Steely Dan.
"Jon never failed to be reliable, was knowledgable, had great ears, was funny, had no Spinal Tap attitude and was the most lovely, soft-spoken, down-to-earth, motor-biking guy. I will miss him. I am very sad."
John Dymond, bassist for Bruce Cockburn, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, on Facebook: "I will miss him. He mixed Cockburn for 3 1/2 tours when I played with him. He was f***ing kick-ass. I always knew people would hear my bass. He was 100% on the case and always had your back. RIP JON. I don’t know how anyone could fight cancer that hard."
Roberto Occhipinti, musician/producer, on Facebook: "Jon was one of the most musical sound persons I've ever met. A caring individual with an unassuming personality that ,his ears, for me ,set a standard of sound excellence that is rarely met." Sources: The Globe and Mail, Facebook
Eleanor (Ilie) Koldofsky, a record producer, head of Aquitaine Records, and the former wife of Sam Sniderman, has died. She was born in 1920.
Her official obituary on Legacy.com states, in part: "A passionate community and country benefactor, Eleanor spent her mid to late years becoming herself - a multiple-award winning record producer and documentary filmmaker, Heritage warrior, inventor, poet, speaker, and publisher."
In the early '70s, she was the first woman director of Artist and Repertoire of the first Canadian classical record company, Boot Records, where she recorded, produced and promoted The Canadian Brass, and promoted the first recording of guitarist Liona Boyd. The Guitar was an immediate best seller that outsold all other classical LPs in Canada in the year of its release.
In 1975, Koldofsky founded the Aquitaine label, an independent imprint focused on classical music that was distributed by CBS Records Canada Ltd. Between 1975 and 1981, it put out releases by The Dumbells, Joe Coughlin, Anton Kuerti, Lotte Lehmann, and more. The label earned multiple Juno awards for Best Classical Recording, including Beethoven Sonatas, volumes I, II, III, and The Crown of Ariadne.
Toronto entertainment industry veteran Joey Cee posted this tribute on Facebook: "She outlived and outperformed many. Sad to hear that Eleanor Koldofsky has passed. I’ve always known her as Eleanor Sniderman, ex-wife of the late Sam Sniderman and mother of Jason and Robert. Amongst many of her accomplishments, she was the head of her own record label Aquitaine Records, which she launched in 1975.
"On Valentine’s Day 1976, I had the honour and pleasure of hosting and producing the 25th Anniversary Gala Roast for Sam The Record Man. Eleanor played an important role. Still married to Sam at the time, she was by his side greeting guests and making her presence felt. Ironically, she passed recently on her 30th Valentine’s Anniversary with her spouse Barbara Bondar. Deepest condolences to her sons Jason and Robert and their families."
Former record label executive Don Oates posted on Facebook that "I was Eleanor's product manager in my early years at CBS Records when she launched her Aquitaine Records label. She was a very caring and intelligent lady who treated me as an equal....a lovely lady...RIP Eleanor."
Earl Rosen, the founder of the Marquis Classics record label, told FYI that "Eleanor was a pioneer of classical recordings in Canada and gave a good start to a number of Canadian performers."
Sources: Legacy.com, Facebook, Eleanor Koldofsky's website
Gordon Pinsent, one of Canada's most prolific and acclaimed stage, film and TV actors, died on Feb. 25, at age 92.
CBC reports that "The Grand Falls, N.L., native and Canadian household name had a storied acting career spanning dozens of films and TV projects over six decades, including Due South, The Red Green Show, Babar and the Adventures of Badou, The Grand Seduction and The Shipping News. Focusing on CBC programs alone, one could add The Forest Rangers, Quentin Durgens, M.P., the original Street Legal and Republic of Doyle, among others.
"In the U.S., where he lived in Los Angeles for six years, it was such TV series and movies as It Takes A Thief, Silence of the North, Young Prosecutors, Banacek, and the feature film The Thomas Crown Affair."
Pinsent joined the Stratford Festival in 1962 with roles in Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and Cyrano de Bergerac, and he returned to Stratford in the mid-'70s as a leading player. He had more than 150 TV and movie acting credits to his name, with his Internet Movie Database resumé spanning from a 1957 TV movie to a cartoon voice in 2021.
A companion of the Order of Canada and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Pinsent also received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, the Earle Grey Award for lifetime achievement in television, and a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
He won every major acting prize in the country, including the Genie for best actor in 2001's The Shipping News. Five years later, Pinsent won best actor Genie and ACTRA awards for his internationally recognized work in Sarah Polley's Away From Her.
Pinsent was also a painter, a writer, a playwright and a director. Two of his Newfoundland-set novels, The Rowdyman and John and the Missus, were turned into feature films. Pinsent starred in the former and both directed and acted in the latter.
His memoir, By the Way, was published in 1994. Though he struggled with chronic pain in his later years, Pinsent remained prolific, with about 20 acting credits during the 2010s.
At age 80, he went viral on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes by reading 16-year-old Justin Bieber's memoir with mock gravitas.
In 2012, at age 81, Pinsent put out Down And Out In Upalong, an album of his own poetry set to rock music by Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo and Travis Good of The Sadies. On Facebook, Judith Coombe of Starfish Entertainment, managers of those two bands, offered this tribute: "Gordon. That twinkle. That smile. That charm. It was a joy and privilege to work with him. To be part of the team to release an album when he approached Greg and Travis set some of his poetry to music. We toured that album. We took the show to Newfoundland. I am going to listen to “Down & Out In Upalong” today. Godspeed, Gord. Love you. So much love to your family. We all lost a very special man. A National Treasure."
At a memorable Feb. 2017 Blue Rodeo and The Sadies concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, Gords Downie, Lightfoot, and Pinsent were in attendance, with the occasion dubbed a "three Gords night."