Postscripts On the Passing Of Doug Chappell
There have been many words celebrating the life and times of the popular music industry executive that have been published on Faceb
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There have been many words celebrating the life and times of the popular music industry executive that have been published on Facebook and at Patterson Funeral Home's online guest book since his death in Niagara Falls on Dec. 3. Since then, three notable additions to his career have been e-mailed to FYI, as published below. The FYI obituary can be found here.
Such very sad news. My thoughts go out to his family and many friends. Doug represents the very best of a ground-breaking era in Canadian music history that helped set up the unstoppable momentum it has enjoyed since the new millennium. A record executive that fully understood, lived and breathed music. Doug was a 'promo-supremo' in the Canadian record business. He created that lasting and deserved reputation from the very start, with his belief in the records he was promoting and his warm, sincere but unrelenting approach to breaking artists. My friendship and admiration of Doug both for his accomplishments and persona started 50+ years ago with the launch of A&M Records Canada - what was to become the infamous Gerry, Joe & Doug show (not to forget Bill Ott). Their very first Canadian release, which I was fortunate to publish, was Band Bandit by Tundra. Doug got that record aired nationally and into the top 30 at a time when getting primetime airplay on Canadian artists was not easy, to say the least.
I moved the distribution of my Daffodil label to A&M in 1974 and combined the marketing and promotion of it with Island Records which I was overseeing in Canada for Charlie Nuccio, Island's North American President. I hired a protege of Doug's A&M promo-academy (Liam Mullen) to head that joint label promotion team we created. Chris Blackwell had wanted to take the label's marketing, promotion and distribution independent here as a step towards complete independence from the major record companies. We used A&M and Quality to distribute the various Island artists. Just a few years later Chris hired Doug to open their own fully independent offices and staff in Canada.
I recall so well Doug's reaction to seeing and hearing the Huggett Family, a Canadian artist I had recently signed. A&M had asked me to bring the group to their annual convention that year to play live for them all at a resort in northern Quebec where the convention was being held. The Huggetts were an Ottawa-based group produced by George Martin. The family of 6 played early renaissance music on 16th/17th-century instruments - about as far away from Supertramp and Cat Stevens as you could imagine - but Doug loved them and couldn't wait to help us try to get the seemingly 'impossible', possible - pop radio airplay on music created entirely on lutes and crumhorns! Well, that may not have happened exactly, though we did get some extensive classical and A/C play on their unique albums but the desire to do so was there at least - and that was Doug for you!
While we didn't work directly together for another 15 years, I bore witness from afar to Doug's great track record in breaking international artists here in Canada first and doing the same later for the Canadian artists he signed.
Around 1991 Doug called me to say he'd played The Strawbs' Might As Well Be On Mars (I'm that far away from you) a song he had long loved by our writers in the Pukka Orchestra. The Strawbs had cut their own material exclusively up to that point in their long career but, nonetheless, Doug was encouraging them to record it for their upcoming album - and they did! A couple of years later we worked together again when Doug signed our artist/writer The Mozz (Gerry Mosby) and his Ragamettal Byznezz album to Virgin.
In recent years, since his retirement, I would look forward to seeing Doug at King Biscuit Boy tributes, reformed Crowbar performances and the annual Radio & Records parties. He will be greatly missed by so many of us.
Excellent overview of Doug's career.
Two things you might not have known.
When Doug was at PolyGram a Shania Twain album--I think it was Up -- had hit its sales peak according to Mercury US, but Doug didn't think so. To everybody's astonishment, he ordered up a dance remix of the album. At that point, Canadian sales were about 180,000 but the remix sold something like 400,000 and then PolyGram Europe picked up the remix there and broke it wide open.
What Doug did--or the result was--that Shania broke out of her country market into the mainstream and broke in Europe where country acts from North America never charted.
The other thing was for the past 3-4 years Doug, like me, was on a CARAS committee and he, Gary Muth and I were the big pushers to get Bobby Curtola Juno recognition.
Author Greig Stewart
I met Doug in the summer of 1961 when he was a camp counsellor at Boyd Park sponsored by the old North Western YMCA up on Scott Road and Eglinton. At the time he was kickin' around with a local band called the Galaxies which also included former York Memorial student and future Metro Toronto Commissioner Al Tonks. All the kids at camp, and certainly many of the female counsellors, were in awe of Doug. I happened to walk by his tent one hot afternoon and spotted him having a nap wearing nothing but his skivvies. In an attempt a bravado, I pulled the tent down on him figuring I would be long gone before he realized who it was. Not so – that bass playing bugger was on his feet and out of the tent before I was more than 20 or so feet away. The next thing I felt was a huge crab apple smacking me in the back of the head with such force I ended up flat on my face with both a sore head and sore ego.
Years later when I was first tinkering with the idea of writing about the early days of Canadian rock 'n roll, I called up Doug and asked for an appointment thinking he would be kind to a fellow former student of YMCI. During the course of our talk, I mentioned the apple incident many years earlier and he suddenly looked both sad and stunned. “Shit,” he said. "You're the kid I hit in the head with an apple! I can't tell you how many times I've thought of you over the years and wondered what happened to you."
Was looking forward to someday being invited to the Mid-Knights annual barbecue if, for no other reason than to return Doug's apple in the form of an award of some sort. Oh well.....