RIP: April Wine's Myles Goodwyn
Myles was one of Canada's great pop/rock songwriters and a perfectionist in all he did.
April Wine co-founder, longtime frontman and lyricist Myles (Francis) Goodwyn died from cancer on Sunday (Dec. 3) in Halifax at the age of 75.
Originally from Woodstock, New Brunswick, Goodwyn formed April Wine in 1969. Over the band’s 50-plus-year career, April Wine sold an estimated 10 million records in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., and released 22 studio and live albums that included Live at the El Mocambo. That album was engineered and produced by Eddie Kramer, who was at the recording console with the Rolling Stones when the Brit band famously played the Toronto club under the alias of The Cockroaches. April Wine opened both their shows.
Goodwyn, a tireless perfectionist, wrote a jukebox full of hits, ranging between steel-cased rockers and sweepingly beautiful pop ballads. Among them “I Like to Rock,” “Rock n’ Roll Is A Vicious Game,” “Just Between You and Me,” “Like A Lover, Like A Song,” and “You Won’t Dance With Me.” He also received approval from songwriter Lorence Hud to add a verse to “Sign of the Gypsy Queen,” which became a sizeable hit for April Wine and was later covered by several other artists. All told, the band released more than 50 singles. As a wordsmith (he would later author two books listed below), he could be playful, evinced by the single “If You See Kay” that was largely avoided by radio broadcasters because it sounded like a four-letter expletive when announced over the air –and then there was the clever wordplay in “Frank Sinatra Can’t Sing” that was included on an eponymously released solo album recorded for Aquarius Records.
As band leader, he was constantly polishing the band’s live performance and showmanship. He wasn’t one to scrimp, spending heavily on tours such as Electric Jewels and The Whole World’s Going Crazy with stage props and pyrotechnics that, at the time, were the exception rather than the norm. Because he was something of an introvert off the stage, and the band’s base was Montreal, Wine's media presence was less than bands such as Rush, Triumph or BTO – but his exceptionality as a prolific writer and exemplary guitarist was highly respected in the music community. He was something of an enigma, a showman on stage and a bit of a recluse when out of sight.
Earlier this year, Goodwyn was honoured by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Other distinctions included inductions into Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, a Juno Lifetime Achievement Award, an East Coast Music Lifetime Achievement Award, a SOCAN National Achievement Award, and two Québec Félix awards. Late last year, Goodwyn officially removed himself from April Wine because of fatigue and complications from diabetes, but he remained manager of a recalibrated entity that had none of Wine’s original Halifax members or the band he put together in Montreal, where they signed to Aquarius Records in 1970.
Since going solo, he tackled political topics in “Some of These Children” (bringing awareness to unmarked residential school graves) and 2022’s “For Ukraine,” which was written in support of the citizens of war-torn Ukraine, garnering him the SIFA Award for Best Social Impact Music/Art 2022. Separate from two mainstream rock albums, he cut an eponymously titled album for Aquarius and two blues albums (Myles Goodwyn and Friends of the Blues and Friends of the Blues 2, released through Linus Entertainment).
In an email, writer Martin Melhuish, a longstanding friend and collaborator on Goodwyn’s autobiography, had this to say about the man:
“Like many who achieve fame, Myles was an enigma. He could often be irascible and tactless and, for many years, was prone to the excesses of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but beneath the surface lay the enduring sensibilities and sensitivities of the kid from humble beginnings in Waverley, Nova Scotia, who lost his mother at the age of 11 and sought solace in music. Self-characterized as isolated and a loner in those days, he would often escape from the world with his guitar and get lost in his thoughts atop a very large white granite rock that was embedded at the summit of a forested hill overlooking Lake William.
“That kind of introspection remained a part of his artistic make-up over the years, and no doubt played a large part in his prolific career as a songwriter. His greatest source of pride when it came to his professional career was his recent induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the past few years, the affairs of April Wine and his solo projects had taken on relative predictability, and his personal life was in fine fettle in no small part as the result of his 13-year relationship with his girlfriend Kim Nyles, who became his wife six days before he died. He faced his final hours, which came with unexpected rapidity, with inspiring stoicism and philosophical outlook.”
From Terry Flood, who co-signed April Wine to Aquarius Records with Donald Tarlton: "We lost a true pioneer of Canadian rock. Myles was an extremely talented songwriter, musician, and singer who led April Wine through many years of successful touring and record sales.”
Below, “Will the Last Voice I Hear Be an Angel,” truly one of his most poetic songs and one that is to be included in a new album entitled Long Pants.
Myles Goodwyn - Will The Last Voice I Hear Be An Angel?