Obituaries, Sept. 7, 2023
George Belmore, a Burlington, Ontario-based country recording artist /performer, died on Sept. 3. His age has not been reported.
By Kerry Doole
George Belmore, a Burlington, Ontario-based country recording artist /performer, died on Sept. 3. His age has not been reported.
Larry Delaney at Cancountry reports that "Belmore enjoyed a lengthy career with his live shows and his recordings. He headed-up the Whiskey Bent Band, and during the mid-1990's performed in his Guitars & Cadillacs show, a tribute to Dwight Yoakam, one of his music idols.
Belmore's recordings included the album Hard Country Music, produced by long-time friend Ron Demmans, who contributed songs to the project. Belmore also collaborated with producer/songwriter the late Larry Coad in the studio, releasing the single Billy Jones, and the hockey theme song, You Gotta Love The Leafs.
Another single release was the 1994 recording Baby Let's Go, written and produced by close friend, the late Mark LaForme. During the height of his recording successes George Belmore was managed by the late Roger Picotte."
Sources: Larry Delaney Cancountry, EarlyMemorials
Tex Emery (born Emery Anthony Herperger), a veteran Canadian country artist, died on Aug. 17, at age 92.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Emery toured extensively across Canada and the USA with his music, before returning to his home province of Saskatchewan.
He was a self-taught musician, playing the steel guitar at age 17. He first hit the stage working alongside Stu Davis, and performed with Canadian legends Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, as well as Reg Gibson, The Ray Little Band, and others,
While living in the Maritimes Emery spent time as a member of the showband Big Blue, performing on their live shows and recordings.
In addition to his musical endeavours Tex Emery also spent time as a comedian ("Sunshine Ficklegrass"), and built and repaired steel guitars, as well as offering lessons and assistance to any and all aspiring steel guitar players. Emery was honoured by the Saskatchewan Country Music Association with their Legend & Legacy award in 2015.
Source: Larry Delaney, CanCountry, CBC, SaskToday
Bruce Guthro, one of Cape Breton's most well-known troubadours whose remarkable 40-year career made waves on both sides of the Atlantic, died on Sept. 5, at age 62, of cancer.
He leaves behind his wife, Kim Guthro, two children, Jodi and Dylan Guthro, as well as many family and friends.
CBC noted that "Guthro was born on Cape Breton Island and started his career leading a band at local clubs and legions — what his longtime friend and colleague J.P. Cormier described as his "first career," as Guthro would reinvent his place in the music industry many times over.
"He would later move to the Halifax area and go on to have a successful solo career before fronting the hugely popular Scottish band Runrig for 20 years. More recently, he brought together both established and up-and-coming artists in his mould-breaking songwriters' circles, where the musicians face each other, away from the audience, allowing a vulnerable and emotional atmosphere of storytelling."
His peers were quick to pay tribute. Longtime friend JP Cormier told CBC that "Bruce was one of the most likable people you ever met in your life. He was so incredibly proactive and positive. But it was impossible to stop it. And that's what inspired all of us. He saw the universality of us as writers, but also saw the thing that made us different, which made us stronger. And he was compelled, for some reason, to demonstrate that to the world over and over and over again, and that's what the circles were."
On Facebook, fellow Maritimer Myles Goodwyn posted this: Today is such a sad day. I heard of Bruce Guthro's passing this morning and my heart is heavy with grief and sadness. I only knew Bruce a relatively short time but I loved the guy for the kindness and generosity he showed me. It was always a treat to be in his company. Bruce was a very special person taken from us far too soon. Today words are difficult to find that truly express how I feel about the loss of this great man. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. My condolences to his family, his friends and his fans. Love you pal, rest in peace."
Singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing (on Facebook): "I just read that the great Bruce Guthro has left us. He was much loved by the East Coast music community. A generous man with a warm welcoming voice and a great friend to songwriters. Godspeed Bruce. Thanks for all your music and generous spirit."
David Myles (on Facebook): "Bruce was such an amazing entertainer, father and friend that he could almost fool you into forgetting how insanely good he was at writing songs and singing them. I feel so lucky to have spent so many incredible nights across from him singing songs and cracking jokes. No one hosted better. He made everyone feel welcome and you always left feeling better than when you arrived. He had a special gift. Grateful for all the good times my friend. Rest easy."
Lennie Gallant (Facebook): "It was so heartbreaking to hear of the passing of good friend, wonderful songwriter, consummate family man and superb raconteur, Bruce Guthro. I shared a stage many times with Bruce and each time I’d be amazed when he’d pull out yet another stunning new song he’d just written. A beautiful voice that took him across the Atlantic to front one of Scotland’s most loved bands, Runrig.
"A main part of any musical gathering on either side of the pond, especially Stanfest, he was just a great guy to spend a bit of time with. His song circles became legendary on the East Coast and he was brilliant in bringing out the best of artists new and seasoned, ocasionally even including his immensely talented kids. He was a master at creating a wonderful vibe on stage and laughter was always a big part of it all. We will miss you greatly my friend. The way things are going perhaps you can get a couple stellar circles started where you are now. My deepest condolences to Kim, Jodi, Dylan and all his family. RIP Bruce. You left a beautiful mark on the planet."
CBC quotes fellow Cape Breton songwriter Gordie Sampson as calling Guthro "the Yoda of performance. He just had the force. He could work the crowd and he knew it, and there was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. That's what entertainment is,. He was able to read his audience.... He lived and fed off the crowd, and it was so innate."
In his early days, he was signed to a major label and rose to number 1 in the Canadian charts with Walk This Road, from his gold-selling 1998 album Of Your Son. In 1999, Guthro earned a Juno nomnation for Best New Solo Artist (alongside Hayden and Emm Gryner). In all, he released seven solo albums, beginning with 1994's Sails to the Wind and ending with 2012's Bound for Bethlehem. He was a multiple East Coast Music Awards winner.
Guthro started from humble beginnings, growing up in the small coal mining community of Sydney Mines. A major career break came in the late 1990's, when he joined Runrig, a popular Celtic band from Scotland, as lead singer. As their frontman, Guthro helped Runrig fill European stadiums until their final performance in 2018, which drew more than 50,000 people.
Former Runrig bandmate Pete Wishart posted on social media that Guthro was "the nicest person you could ever hope to meet, and a joy to peform with. An exceptional singer, musician and songwriter taken far too soon. We are going to miss him," Wishart said in a social media post.
Guthro hosted his songwriters' circle in Halifax multiple times a year and became a mainstay act at the annual Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, N.S.
His two children followed him into a career in music. Dylan Guthro is a songwriter and producer currently based in Nashville and Jodi Guthro is a singer-songwriter in her own right.
Doug ("Dougie") Trineer, a Canadian country recording artist, songwriter and producer, died on Aug. 28, at age 83.
During his teen years, he worked on stages in Montreal with Ronnie Prophet and later formed his first band The Hackamores.
As a recording artist, Trineer released numerous albums and singles, including a 1965 l LP on Point Records featuring his versions of songs popularized by Roger Miller and Buck Owens. The album also included his own composition (Please Don't Let Me Stop) My Lovin' You. His albums have identified him by various names - "Doug" Trineer, "Dougie" Trineer and "Dougal" Trineer.
Trineer was also a prolific songwriter and producer. His songs were recorded by Diane Leigh (Two Shades Of Blue), Orval Prophet (Too Late For The Wedding) and Canadian artists Ron McMunn, Scotty Stevenson, Hugh Scott, Angus Walker, Jerry Hatton and many others. Perhaps his most recognized song was More Often Than Once In A While (co-written with Michael O'Reilly) recorded by O'Reilly and by Nashville Bluegrass legend Del McCoury.
As a producer, Doug Trineer worked alongside George Taylor, founder of the Rodeo/Banff Records label; and as such he produced many of the major Canadian country artists who recorded for the vintage label.
Source: Larry Delaney, CanCountry
Jimmy (James William) Buffett, a singer-songwriter who popularized beach bum soft rock with the escapist song Margaritaville and turned that into a billion-dollar empire, died on Sept. 1, of skin cancer, at the age of 76.
The AP notes that Margaritaville, released on Feb. 14, 1977, quickly took on a life of its own, becoming a state of mind for those “wastin’ away,” an excuse for a life of low-key fun and escapism for those 'growing older, but not up.'" The song – from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 8. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance, became a karaoke standard and helped brand Key West, Florida, as a distinct sound of music and a destination known the world over.
The song soon inspired restaurants and resorts, turning Buffett’s alleged desire for the simplicity of island life into a multimillion brand. He landed at No. 18 in Forbes’ list of the Richest Celebrities of All Time with a net worth of $1 billion.
Buffett’s legions of fans, called “Parrotheads,” regularly turned up for his concerts wearing toy parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks and flamingos on their heads, leis around their necks and loud Hawaiian shirts.
His evolving brand began in 1985 with the opening of a string of Margaritaville-themed stores and restaurants in Key West, followed in 1987 with the first Margaritaville Café nearby. Over the course of the next two decades, several more of each opened throughout Florida, New Orleans and California.
The brand has since expanded to dozens of categories, including resorts, apparel and footwear, a cruise line, a radio station, beer and alcohol brands and food items. There also was a Broadway-bound jukebox musical, Escape to Margaritaville.
He performed on more than 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and was constantly on tour. He earned two Grammy Award nominations, two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award.
Buffett also was the author of numerous books including Where Is Joe Merchant? and A Pirate Looks At Fifty and added movies to his resume as co-producer and co-star of an adaptation of Carl Hiaasen’s novel Hoot.
There were some notable Canadian connections to Buffett. Over the course of his career, he recorded versions of six Bruce Cockburn songs: All The Ways I Want You, Pacing The Cage, Wondering Where The Lions Are, Someone I Used To Love, Anything Anytime Anywhere, and Life Short Call Now. On Facebook, Cockburn;'s manager Bernie Finkelstein posted that "each version was great. I never got to meet him but sure wanted to thank him for his support of Bruce. RIP Jimmy and thanks."
Another Canadian singer/songwriter boosted by Buffett was Lennie Gallant, who posted this tribute on Facebook: "My heart is broken this morning upon hearing of the passing of Jimmy Buffett. A music icon, a great spirit, a cool guy, and a friend. He injected much love and laughter into this world and it loved him back.
"I was very fortunate to get to know him when he recorded a song of mine years ago, and spent time with him then in NS and again recently in Key West recording some vocals on a couple of co-written songs for his new album. He then gave my partner Patricia and me his beach house to finish writing songs for our own project which we released the same day he passed. He always remained positive to the end. Just over a week ago, he messaged how despite his treatment, he was still hoping to make the visit to PEI that we had planned. It was inspiring to see how positive he was regarding his health and life in general. His impact on the world cannot be overstated. His contribution to music was enormous and will resonate through the ages."
“Some of it’s magic and some of it’s tragic but I had a good life all the way.” Jimmy Buffett RIP Jimmy
Buffett was especially fond of Canada's East Coast. Read about those roots here.
Len Chandler, an American folk musician died in San Pedro, California, on Aug. 28, at the age of 88.
By the early 1960s, Chandler began to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He sang at demonstrations and rallies and won a reputation as a protest songwriter. One of his most famous songs was Beans in My Ears, which was covered by the Serendipity Singers, as well as Pete Seeger. He also served as one of the original crew members of Seeger's CLEARWATER organization, working to save the environment around the Hudson River Valley.
He released two solo albums on Columbia in 1967: To Be a Man and The Lovin' People. Chandler was also a performer in the travelling anti-war troupe F.T.A., which was organized by Jane Fonda in 1971.
He contributed topical political songs to 1968's An Album Of Political Pornography. Chandler's song Keep On Keepin' On of 1964 was used by Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech after King's secretary saw the song in New York Broadside issue 34.
Curtis Fowlkes, an American jazz trombonist and a founding member of The Jazz Passengers, died on Sept. 1, at age 73, of congestive heart failure.
Fowlkes was born in Brooklyn in 1951 and started earning his living in high school as a musician in various Latin, reggae, calypso, funk and R&B bands. In the 1980s he became famous as a member of hip punk-jazz outfit The Lounge Lizards, recording with them on the Live in Tokyo - Big Heart album in 1986 and two subsequent releases.
He and saxophonist Roy Nathanson started the Jazz Passengers in 1987, a popular post-modern jazz combo. Fowlkes also performed as a sideman with bassist Charlie Haden’s reunited Liberation Music Orchestra and with the alumni Ellington Orchestra. He performed and recorded with Levon Helm, Glen Hansard, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Cibo Matto, Charlie Hunter, and The Police’s Andy Summers, to name a few. He was also part of the Kansas City All-Stars, who appeared in Robert Altman’s 1996 film Kansas City.
As a leader, he released Curtis Fowlkes/Catfish Corner: Reflect, in 1999.
Sources: Free Jazz Collective, JazzTimes, Wikipedia
Steve Harwell, the former lead singer and frontman for Smash Mouth, died on Sept. 4, of liver disease, at age 56.
The Grammy-nominated pop rock band Smash Mouth was best known for the megahit All Star has died. Other hits included Walkin’ on the Sun and Then The Morning Comes.
His manager Robert Hayes told Variety that "Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger-than-life than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom.”
Smash Mouth was formed in 1994 and released two platinum albums on Interscope Records, the ska-fuelled 1997′s Fush Yu Mang and 1999′s Astro Lounge. The latter featured some of the band’s biggest hits, including the Grammy-nominated, platinum single All Star, which appeared in the movie Shrek alongside their cover of the Monkees’ I’m a Believer.
Variety notes that "humour was a driving force behind Smash Mouth’s success, and at the forefront was Harwell’s playful alt-rock voice and persona. Harwell retired from performing and left Smash Mouth in 2021. Sources: AP, Variety,
Gary Wright, the musician and vocalist best known for his massive hit singles Dream Weaver and Love Is Alive, died on Sept. 4, at age 80. He had been struggling with Parkinson's and dementia.
He was a founding member of the U.K.-based Spooky Tooth, playing with that prog rock band from 1967 to 1970, and was an in-demand session player from the late ’60s on, playing on most of George Harrison’s solo albums, and on Ringo Starr’s early singles and, much later, with Starr’s All-Starr Band. He will be best remembered for the mid-1970s hits Dream Weaver and Love Is Alive.
A native of New Jersey, Wright was a child actor who appeared on Broadway in a version of Fanny. Island Records head Chris Blackwell and ace producer Jimmy Miller recruited him to help form Spooky Tooth, and he co-wrote every song on their first two albums. The group’s third album, Ceremony, was a creative misstep and Wright left the band in 1970, after their third album, Ceremony, launching a solo career.
He signed with A&M Records, released a solo album, Extraction, in 1970, then reformed Spooky Tooth for two more albums as well as working extensively with George Harrison. He then signed with Warner Bros. Records as a solo artist, and the following album, The Dream Weaver, spawned his hit singles.
He later specialized in instrumental and soundtrack work as well as releasing more conventional rock albums. Wright's songs have continued to be covered and sampled by artists ranging from Chaka Khan and Jay-Z to Tone-Loc.