Obituaries, Sept. 21, 2023

Pete (Peter Anthony) Swann, a guitarist, record producer, engineer, songwriter and studio owner, died on Sept. 12, at age 58. A cause of death has not been reported.

Obituaries, Sept. 21, 2023

By Kerry Doole

Pete (Peter Anthony) Swann, a guitarist, record producer, engineer, songwriter and studio owner, died on Sept. 12, at age 58. A cause of death has not been reported.

Canadian music industry veteran Frank Davies sent this to FYI: "Pete was a consummate musician who owned Attitude Productions, a boutique studio and production company in Aurora, Ontario. He engineered, produced co-produced, played for and worked with many artists over his career. They include Al Connelly (Glass Tiger), Hugh Leggat (A Foot In Coldwater), Saga, Ches Anthony and longtime friend and co-writer, country artist Danielle Bourjeaurd, whose U.S singles and first album Country Sorta Way Pete produced.


"A man of many talents Pete was a Guitar Warz winner, produced and wrote theme music for rock flagship Q107, taught Alex Lifeson's sons guitar lessons, and was a published songwriter (Imagination, Inspiration, Perspiration Music)."

An official obituary at  stated that "Pete was an accomplished music producer, mixing engineer, multi-instrumentalist (including guitar shredder extraordinaire), composer, lyricist, teacher, writer, arranger, video creator, comedian, animator, philosopher and political activist. He was a one-of-a-kind human who lived and breathed what he loved like no one else: music. He was fiercely independent, intellectual, warm and extremely modest. He was the best brother a sister could ask for. Condolences may be forwarded to here."

Funeral Details: A Memorial Service in memory of Swann will be held on Friday, October 13th, 2023 at 11 a.m. at the Aurora Legion Branch 385, (105 Industrial Pkwy N, Aurora, ON) 

Sources: Frank Davies, Peaceful Transition


Richard Davis, an in-demand session bassist who worked in many different genres, died on Sept. 6, at age 93.

The New York Times noted that "Davis was best known for his jazz work, but he was also heard on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and with orchestras conducted by Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein.


The Chicago-born Davis came from a musical family and he moved to New York City in 1954. Davis then found steady work with piano great Ahmad Jamal and in the rhythm section for jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and would spend the remainder of the 1950s under her tutelage. 

It wasn’t just vocalists who sought out Davis’ services: Beginning in 1959 — when he played alongside Kenny Burrell for A Night at the Vanguard — Davis would become one of the most in-demand bassists, especially among the musicians exploring the emerging free jazz movement. He played on landmark jazz albums by the likes of Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson,, Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy. In 1967, Davis, alongside drummer Elvin Jones, released his first album as co-leader, Heavy Sounds, and a year later he shone on Astral Weeks.

Davis was later featured on albums by Janis Ian, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Laura Nyro, Judy Collins, Buffalo Springfield and countless more. In 2014, Davis was anointed the prestigious title of Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts. 

Sources: NY Times, Rolling Stone

Charles Gayle, a fiery free jazz saxophonist, died on Sept. 7, at age 84.


Initially known as a saxophonist who came to prominence in the 1990s after decades of obscurity, Gayle also performed as a pianist, bass clarinetist, bassist, and percussionist. The NYT termed Gayle "an intense and uncompromising player."

Born in Buffalo, he relocated to NYC during the early 1970s, subsisting as a busker during long periods of homelessness. In 1988, he gained fame through a trio of albums recorded in one week and released by Swedish label, Silkheart Records. He then became a major figure in free jazz, recording for labels including Black Saint, Knitting Factory Records, FMP, and Clean Feed. He also taught music at Bennington College.


He performed and recorded with Cecil Taylor, William Parker, and Rashied Ali. Gayle's most celebrated work is the album Touchin' on Trane (FMP) with Parker and Ali, which received the "Crown" accolade from the Penguin Guide to Jazz.

In 2001, Gayle recorded an album entitled Jazz Solo Piano. It consisted mostly of straightforward jazz standards and was a response to critics who charge that free jazz musicians cannot play bebop. In 2006, Gayle followed up with a second album of solo piano, this time featuring original material, entitled Time Zones. Gayle appears in the 1985 Jazz documentary, Rising Tones Cross, directed by Ebba Jahn.

Sources: New York Times, Wikipedia

James Yancey Jones, known professionally as Tail Dragger Jones, a Chicago blues singer, died on Sept. 4, at age 82.

 He performed beginning in the 1960s and released four albums. Jones gained a certain notoriety in 1993, after being convicted of second-degree murder for the killing of another blues musician, Boston Blackie. Jones, a disciple of Howlin' Wolf, was given his nickname by his hero because of his habit of regularly arriving late at Howlin' Wolf performances.

After relocating to Chicago in 1966, the Arkansas-born Jones worked as an auto mechanic., and then began performing locally. Heavily influenced by Howlin' Wolf, he concentrated on a low-down Chicago blues sound. Jones was a regular performer in Chicago blues clubs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, releasing a number of commercially unsuccessful singles. He was 56 before he released a debut full-length album, Crawlin' Kingsnake, on St. George Records, in 1996. Three more albums followed in the 2000s, and his joint work with Bob Corritore resulted in the 2012 CD and DVD release Longtime Friends in the Blues.


On Facebook, noted blues guitarist Johnny Burgin posted that "Tail Dragger gave me my start in music, and along the way, he became a life-long friend. He was a real bluesman (actually a strident purist!) and a great, charismatic showman. Anyone who knew him can attest that Tail Dragger was larger than life on and off-stage. Tail's style wasn't for everybody, but time and time again, he won over so many audiences with his realness, stage presence, humor and practically feral energy. To me, the best part of his performances was when he 'got happy'--- that radiant joy that was plain to see and a gift to share. Audiences saw an artist who was part of the tail end of the Great Migration, who was mentored by Howlin' Wolf, and who was the type of blues artist that will never exist in that form again."

In the '90s, Ken Kawashima, aka Toronto blues artist Sugar Brown, played alongside Burgin in Tail Dragger's band.

Sources: Wikipedia, Johnny Burgin

Charlie (Charles Fitzgerald) Robison, an American country music singer-songwriter, died on Sept. 10, at age 59, of cardiac arrest.

Robison came to Austin, Texas in the late 1980s and had stints in the bands Chaparral, Millionaire Playboys, and Two Hoots and a Holler. He went solo with his album Bandera in 1996. He subsequently signed with Sony and released Life of the Party on Sony subsidiary Lucky Dog Records. The album spawned three of his biggest hits including My Hometown. He released more studio and live albums, then signed to Dualtone for Good Times in 2004, followed by extensive touring. His next album, Beautiful Day, came out in 2009.


Health reasons forced him to pause his career in 2018, and he resumed in 2022. Robison was married to Emily Erwin of The Chicks from 1999 to 2008.

Sources: Wikipedia, Texas Monthly

Jack Sonni, best known as  Dire Straits’ ‘other guitarist,' died in late August, at age 68. No cause of death has been reported.

Guitar World noted that Sonni was "a genuine guitar enthusiast who loved to play, jam, and talk guitars and amps all day.” The US guitarist played and performed through Dire Straits' globe-stomping Brothers in Arms era – and even worked on the first Line 6 PO

Despite being a highly capable guitarist and well-connected, Sonni spent much of his early career in relative obscurity, playing sessions and club gigs and, eventually, finding a home selling instruments at legendary New York store Rudy’s Music.  It was there that he would first meet and befriend David and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, later joining the group as rhythm guitarist,  playing on the mega-selling 1985 album Brothers In Arms, and touring the world. He didn't rejoin after the band took a hiatus,.

After Dire Straits, Sonni moved back to the instrument world, working for Seymour Duncan and developing a role in marketing. He was also involved in the development and launch of the Line 6 POD – a product that set the template for modeling amps. Later in his career, he became VP of Marketing at Guitar Center. Eventually he chose to leave the industry to focus on his writing, much of which examined the sense of identity tied up in ‘making it’ as a musician and the subsequent emotional fallout of it coming to an end.

Sources: Guitar World, Ultimate Classic Rock

Roger Henry Brough Whittaker, British folk singer famous for Durham Town, died on Sept. 13, at the age of 87.  

The Kenyan-born Whittaker retired in 2012 after a career spanning seven decades. His greatest hits include Durham Town, The Last Farewell, New World in the Morning and his 1982 version of Wind Beneath My Wings. Worldwide, he sold nearly 50m records since the summer of 1962 when, aged 26, he began writing songs and singing in Welsh folk clubs while studying zoology, biochemistry and marine biology at the University of Bangor.

 His music is an eclectic mix of folk music and popular songs in addition to radio airplay hits. He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability as well as his guitar skills.

His 1975 hit The Last Farewell was his only single to hit the Billboard Hot 100 (it made the Top 20) and also hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, selling 11 million copies worldwide. 

Sources: The Guardian, Wikipedia


50 Cent

50 Cent


50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

keep readingShow less