The 2022 Grammy Awards, held in Las Vegas on April 3, will not be remembered as a stellar one in terms of Canadian successes, but there were a few notable victories for our artists. Leading the way was Joni Mitchell, a winner in the Best Historical Album category for Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967). Two nights earlier, the famed singer/songwriter was celebrated at the annual MusiCares fundraising gala by a star-studded list of performers. Mitchell made a rare public appearance then, and again on Sunday night when, alongside Bonnie Raitt, she introduced a performance by Brandi Carlisle.
Another big winner was BC-based Cuban-Canadian artist Alex Cuba, who won his first Grammy, in the Best Latin Pop Album for Mendó. A previous winner of four Latin Grammys, Cuba had been shut out in the Grammys on three earlier noms. In a press release, Cuba noted that “This [win] is a surreal moment for me. I got to hear I won a Grammy while driving in the middle of a snowstorm between shows here in Canada. I hope that this album recorded at home in the middle of the pandemic inspires independent artists in Latin America to believe and follow their dreams.” The album was mixed by Juno-winning engineer John 'Beetle' Bailey, who posted on FB that "Mendó is a record that we built entirely with remote collaborations, incredible guests, and Alex recording & producing from Smithers, BC! " Bailey informs FYI that "the way the Grammys work, we (in my case, Mixing) engineers are not considered nominees when the artist gets a nomination in their category, but we are considered winners if the artist wins - so we get the nice little Grammy statuette!"
The Weeknd was a winner in the Melodic Rap Performance category for his featured role on the Kanye West song Hurricane, with Ye and Lil Baby sharing in that award. Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra won in the Orchestral Performance category for Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3. James LaBrie, from Penetanguishene, ON, is the lead singer of the US rock band Dream Theater, winner in the Best Metal Performance category for The Alien.
Burlington, ON, engineer Charles Moniz picked up a Grammy as an engineer/mixer on Silk Sonic's Leave The Door Open, winner of Record of the Year, and Canadian flautist Ron Korb is featured on Stewart Copeland and Ricky Kej's Grammy-winning album Divine Tides, named Best New Age Album.
One of the biggest losers on the night was Justin Bieber who went home empty-handed after receiving eight nominations. Full winners list here.
– The Canadian Folk Music Awards (#CFMA2022) were presented over two nights (April 1 and 2) in Charlottetown, PEI. Leading the list of winners with three awards apiece were Allison Russell and Cédric Dind-Lavoie. Other notable winners included Elliott Brood, Splash'N Boots, Twin Flames, Polky, Élage Diouf, and William Prince. See the full winners list here.
The 17th edition of the event was hosted by Chelsey June of Twin Flames and Benoit Bourque in a bilingual event that included performances by The Fugitives, Élage Diouf, Nicolas Boulerice, Rob Lutes, Polky, Twin Flames, Dana Sipos, Eliana Cuevas, Morgan Toney, Bouches Bées, Ian Tamblyn and Alicia Toner. The Slaight Music Unsung Hero Award was presented this year to Geneviève Nadeau, while the Oliver Schroer Pushing the Boundaries Award went to Cédric Dind-Lavoie.
– Arguably Canada's biggest summer music fest, Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) in Quebec City has just announced a heavyweight 2022 line-up. It features Rage Against the Machine, 2 Chainz, Alanis Morissette, Charli XCX, Denzel Curry, Charlotte Cardin, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, Halsey, Alexisonfire, Gayle, and many more. The festival's first edition since 2019 has expanded to 12 days (July 6-17), and it anticipates over 300,000 attendees from all over the world. Transferable FEQ passes are already on sale at $130 here.
– The Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA), along with the support of FACTOR and the Government of Canada, Creative BC and the Province of BC, and Ontario Creates, has made public the results of the national study Closing the Gap: Impact and Representation of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) Live Music Workers in Canada. The definitive study, conducted over a period of 18 months, provides critical data, and better informs CLMA and its partners of the challenges and barriers that impede IBPOC workers in the Canadian live music industry. The findings also highlight the most pressing issues and obstacles and emphasize the urgent need to better serve IBPOC live music workers across Canada. Read the full report here
– The East Coast Music Association presents the ‘20th Anniversary’ edition of the ECMA International Export Buyers Program at the 34th ECMA Awards in Fredericton, NB, from May 4-8. Over 100 international delegates from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and the UK will participate in the hybrid edition of the ECMA 2022 International Export Buyers Program. The full ECMA festival and conference schedule has also been announced. Check it out here.
– Presented by Indie Week, The Indie101 online music conference is set for May 16-19. It will feature 75+ speakers,35+ sessions, B2B's, Breakouts, meetups and an impressive first round of speakers has been announced. Featuring both Canadians and international notables, the list includes industry notables Margaret McGuffin, Vincent Degiorgio, Rebecca Webster, Sarah Lutz, Jae Gold, Kim Temple, Kurt Dahle, John Switzer, and artists Ken Tizzard, Reeny Smith, and Dennis Ellsworth. Register here.
– The National Music Centre (NMC) has announced the recipients of the OHSOTO’KINO Recording Bursary: Joel Wood, and Twin Flames. A new call for submissions is now open for the OHSOTO’KINO Music Incubator, to run this summer at Studio Bell. Emerging First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists are encouraged to apply here by April 28.
–Presented by The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada (GMSC) and Canadian Music Week, the 2022 Canadian Sync Awards are set for June 9, at the El Mocambo in Toronto (4:30 – 7 pm). The Awards celebrate music supervisor excellence and the Sync community across Canada. Music Publishers Canada (MPC) is on board as a major sponsor. Submissions for the Awards are now open. More info here.
– Small World Music recently announced details for its annual Global Toronto music conference, held online from June 20-22, with pre-conference activities held in Toronto in person from June 7-10, including a diverse selection of international and cross-country delegates. Global Toronto features showcases, networking opportunities, panel discussions and workshops. A press release states "it is rooted in re-imagining a sustainable, equitable, and accessible future for the music sector, and a platform to create connections and professional contacts while building community and creating a space to discuss and make a change. Registration is now open here.
– The Cue Sheet Palooza Hackathon is set to run April 9-10, as an in-person event at Startwell, 786 King Street West, Toronto. Cue Sheets are documents that explain all the details about who wrote and owns the music used in a film or TV production, and how it’s used, and this event highlights some of the challenges facing music creators and stakeholders when managing their performing rights royalties. It features Toronto coders and developers and music industry mentors. After the marathon 24-hour session, a panel of industry judges will choose the winning teams, who will be awarded cash and sponsor prizes. Sign up here.
– Steve Waxman's highly-regarded The Creationists Podcast announces a new episode (No. 43) sure to fascinate any lover of Canadian music. Entitled A True North Life with Bernie Finkelstein, it features an interview with the legendary artist manager (Bruce Cockburn), label head (True North), film producer and author. Highly recommended. Link here.
– The CDCE and Creative Manitoba invite the entire Manitoba cultural community to attend a regional online meeting on Bill C-11 today (April 7), 3-4.30 pm. Entitled Bill C-11 on Broadcasting: What is at Stake for the Cultural Community in Manitoba, the session features Sean McManus (Manitoba Music ED), Leslea Mair (producer at Zoot Pictures) and more. Register (free) here.
– Ottawa-based blues/soul trio HOROJO Trio played at an album launch party at the True North Art Gallery (HQ of the Linus/Stony Plain/True North roots empire) in Waterdown, ON, on Monday. The group played its debut full-length, Set The Record, in its entirety for an impressed in-person crowd (the performance was also live-streamed). Industry notables in attendance included Linus head/party host Geoff Kulawick, Graham Rockingham, Dave MacMillan, Richard Flohil, Derek Andrews, Don Bird, and local bluesman Steve Strongman, who co-wrote a couple of cuts on the superb album. These cats are quickly making a splash on the Canadian blues scene, and deservedly so.
– Roots-rocker Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Junkhouse, Lee Harvey Osmond) published Beautiful Scars, a candid and very well-received memoir, in 2017. Its material now makes it to the screen as a feature-length documentary of the same name. It will premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, with screenings on May 2 and May 5. More info here.
– Hawksley Workman plays a string of Western Canadian tour dates kicking off in Winnipeg on April 18. Expect material from all stages of his long and prolific career. Tour dates here.
– The HPs, a talent-studded Hamilton-based funk/soul collective headed by ‘Parkside’ Mike Renaud, have released a new single from the upcoming debut album, Gritty City Soul, Vol. 1. Hope To See You Again was inspired by Parkside’s 40th birthday when he was charged with taking care of soul-great Sharon Jones for Hamilton’s Supercrawl festival. His group does Jones proud on the cut. Stream it here.
– The trophy case of Canadian country hitmaker Dallas Smith just got a little more cramped, as this week he was awarded Music Canada platinum certifications for three singles ( Like A Man, Cheap Seats, and Side Effects, plus a gold single for Some Things Never Change feat. Hardy and his recent album Timeless. On April 8, Smith makes his debut at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium, opening for country superstar Trace Adkins. In May, Smith kicks off the national headlining Some Things Never Change Tour with James Barker Band and special guest Meghan Patrick plus other Cancountry acts. Tix available here
– As part of its ongoing 20th Anniversary Season, Montreal's Constantinople Ensemble has partnered with musicians from Spain’s Accademia del Piacere in a new concert entitled From Castille to Samarkand at Toronto's Aga Khan Museum on April 8. The program premiered in Seville (Spain) on March 26, and has just been presented in Vancouver and Victoria, with Montreal and Quebec City shows to follow. More info here.
– Noted '80s Canadian prog-pop band Strange Advance is on the comeback trail. After the recent release of the album Strange Advance 4, and a new single, Perfect Day, the group has announced four Canadian shows – Vancouver's Hollywood Theatre on April 26, Toronto's El Mocambo (May 13), and Mississauga's McBowl Concert Series (May 14) and the Intimate & Interactive Samuel Adams Stage (May 15). More info here.
– Canadian alternative rock band Texas King is hitting the road in support of recent EP Changes, alongside Motherfolk and Loviet. The tour kicks off April 8 in St. Louis with stops in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Toronto (Monarch Tavern on May 5), Buffalo, and more. Itinerary here.
– Toronto indie rocker Deanna Petcoff releases her debut album, To Hell With You, I Love You, tomorrow (April 8), via Royal Mountain Records. Advance singles have been generating a buzz internationally, with the latest, Trash Bag, out this week.
Boris Brott, an internationally recognized Canadian conductor, composer, and classical music festival founder died on April 5, after a hit and run accident in his hometown of Hamilton. He was 78.
Brott was the founder and artistic director of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and the Brott Music Festival, both based in Hamilton. He was the founding music director and Conductor Laureate of the New West Symphony in Los Angeles, and the artistic director and conductor of the Orchestre Classique de Montréal (formerly the McGill Chamber Orchestra). He was also a former Principal Youth and Family conductor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
Brott was one of the most internationally recognized Canadian conductors, having conducted on stages around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Covent Garden. He is known for his innovative methods of introducing classical music to new audiences. Over his career, he commissioned, performed, and recorded a wide variety of Canadian works.
On April 5, the Brott Music Festival posted this on Facebook: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the sudden and tragic passing of the one and only musical genius and Canadian artistic visionary Boris Brott,. He will be sorely missed by all who appreciated his unsurpassed talent and by those who loved him.” Created in 1988 with his wife, Ardyth, the Brott Summer Music Festival was considered the largest orchestral music festival in Canada.
The Orchestre Classique de Montréal released a statement saying it was, as an organization, in a state of disbelief: "Boris Brott was the beating heart of the Orchestre Classique de Montréal, a renowned leader in the world of classical music in North America and beyond, a mentor to countless young musicians, and a very dear friend to so many. His sudden passing thus leaves a deep void in our musical community and profound sadness in our personal lives.”
Born in Montreal to violinist-composer-conductor Alexander Brott and cellist Lotte Brott in 1944, Brott debuted as a violin soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at age five. At 12, he studied conducting with Pierre Monteux at his academy in Maine. It was Monteux who gave Brott his first conducting job as his assistant with the LSO and on his European tours.
After studies with Igor Markevitch, Brott won the top prize at the 1958 Pan-American Conducting Competition in Mexico. One year later, Brott, then a 15-year-old student in Montreal, founded the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra of Montreal.
He served as Walter Susskind’s assistant at the TSO from 1963 to 1965. Brott then became active in England, conducting the Northern Sinfonia at Newcastle upon Tyne from 1964 to 1968, and was principal conductor of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden’s touring company from 1964 to 1967.
In 1968, he was named assistant to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein.
Brott came to Hamilton in 1969 as artistic director and conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO). Over the years (until 1990), he led the HPO from an amateur ensemble to a professional orchestra that at its peak had a 42-week season and some 16,000 subscribers. In 1989, he created the National Academy Orchestra, a professional training orchestra primarily based in Hamilton.
The gregarious Brott connected with musicians and music lovers outside the classical and operatic world too, and many notable Canadian artists quickly took to social media to express sadness at the news of his passing. On Facebook, Sarah Slean posted: "RIP to this very special Maestro, Boris Brott - I worked with him only once but couldn’t believe how warm and welcoming he was… a ‘high vibration’ kind of person. My sincere condolences to his family and colleagues."
Award-winning Hamilton blues artist Rita Chiarelli posted this tribute on Facebook: "I'm deeply heartbroken to hear of the tragic death of my friend and mentor Boris Brott. His passion and excitement for music never waned. During our performances, I would look over at him and he had that excited smile that said, 'Isn't this great?!' and I would marvel at his incredible enthusiasm and be inspired. I will miss you Boris and that look. Resta in pace Maestro, alla prossima! xoxo"
Veteran Hamilton promoter and venue owner (the legendary This Ain't Hollywood) Lou Molinaro reminisced on Facebook that "I was very fortunate to share some great chats with Boris about rock 'n roll with classical compositions. We referenced Procol Harum and The Move often, and I know Boris respected Frank Zappa's ability to compose music immensely."
Longtime Hamilton Spectator music scribe Graham Rockingham contributed this heartfelt tribute: "When Boris Brott came to Hamilton with his long hair, sideburns and mod clothes, he made classical music cool in a working-class lunch-bucket town. He even brought the Philharmonic to the floor of the steelworks. He was extraordinary in his outreach, especially to the young people of our community. The hundreds of childrens' concerts he staged had a profound effect on his young audiences. I’ve met so many professional musicians who say that the annual outings to the Brott shows were among the highlights of their school year.
"I had the honour of hosting some of these shows and, although I knew about as much about classical music as he did about the Grateful Dead, we developed an immediate working relationship. It was a career highlight to be on stage when his National Academy Orchestra performed the freak-out finale from The Beatles’ A Day in a Life. The 1200 high school students in the audience were mesmerized, as was I. I last spoke to him a couple of months ago and he was still as vibrant as ever, eager to get out of the pandemic and on to bigger brighter things. What a horrible tragedy this is for us all."
Rockingham also recalls that "there was an autographed poster, circa 1970, on the wall of This Ain't Hollywood of Boris standing in a Hamilton quarry pit surrounded by seven beautiful women. That poster was on the wall right next to one of Frankie Venom of Teenage Head!"
Comedy star Eugene Levy tweeted that "His brilliance as a maestro was only surpassed by his kindness as a man. I join the world of music and all Canadians in mourning the loss of Boris Brott."
Brott often collaborated musically with such hometown stars as Terra Lightfoot and Arkells, who performed with Brott and the National Academy Orchestra at The Gasworks in the July 2014 Art Crawl in Hamilton.
One of Brott's favourite Hamilton performance venues was the Centenary United Church (now the New Vision United Church), and, under his leadership, Opera Hamilton rehearsed on its ground floor for many years. The historic venue, now known as The Music Hall, is currently receiving a major upgrade, and Brott and the National Academy Orchestra contributed a track to Do Well By Hamilton, a double vinyl album featuring Hamilton artists designed to help fundraise for that project.
Brott was scheduled to conduct the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a tribute to Ukrainian music and artistry on April 20. The concert will proceed.
In 1986, Brott was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2006, he was made a Member of the Order of Ontario. In May 2006, he was voted one of the top five Greatest Hamiltonians of all time by Hamilton Spectator readers. In 2007, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by Tourism Hamilton and the City of Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Arts Award.
Sources: Hamilton Spectator, The Globe and Mail, Wikipedia
William "Bill" Rotari, a Montreal-based record label executive, died on March 25, age 85. A passionate baseball player and fan, he played professionally in the Braves organization, while music was his other love. Rotari was a self-taught musician, who played, wrote and sang music from a child in the choir to early adulthood with his quartet The Favorites to his last song, On a Christmas Night, which he recorded in 2020.
His career in the music industry spanned across Capitol, CBS and Sony Music. He was instrumental in organizing John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-In recording of Give Peace a Chance and in the signing of Celine Dion at Sony Music.
In a Facebook post, music industry colleague Dominique Zgarka recalled that "in addition to being an extremely dedicated and effective Director of our Montreal Branch, Bill was individually responsible for bringing Celine Dion to the label. He could always be counted on to support both the company and his team in Montreal in a very efficient, polite and kindhearted manner. RIP Bill."
Although retired for over 20 years, Rotari continued to search for talent and work on numerous projects right up until his passing. A funeral service was held on April 2. Donations in his memory may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Sources: Montreal Gazette, Dominique Zgarka
John Zaritsky, an Academy Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker, died on March 30, of heart failure, at the age of 79.
Born in St. Catharines, Ont., Zaritsky had a career that spanned over 40 years and often tackled controversial subjects, including disease, drugs and assisted suicide, while giving a voice to survivors.
He directed such notable and heavy-hitting titles as 2016’s No Limits: The Thalidomide Saga, 2010’s Leave Them Laughing, and various critically acclaimed episodes of the docuseries Frontline, including 1996’s Murder on ‘Abortion Row.’
In 1983, Zaritsky won the Oscar for best documentary feature for an episode of The Fifth Estate titled Just Another Missing Kid, about a missing Ottawa teenager.
His documentary A Different Drummer captured Canada’s top singers recording the single Tears Are Not Enough for Ethiopian famine relief. Zaritsky also spotlighted the Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force's aerobatics flight demonstration team, in The Real Stuff, with music by David Foster.
Zaritsky's films have received more than 40 industry and major film festival awards, including seven Gemini Awards, a Hot Docs Special Jury Award, Cable Ace Award, Whistler Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, and several Emmy and additional Gemini nominations. His work has been broadcast in 35 countries and screened at more than 40 film festivals around the world, including Sundance, TIFF, VIFF, IDFA in Amsterdam, Hot Docs,, and South by Southwest. Source: CP
Bobby Rydell (born Robert Ridarelli), a US pop idol of the early 1960s, has died aged 79. He suffered complications from pneumonia and died in hospital in his native Philadelphia.
The Guardian notes that "With songs of decorous romance sung in his clean, hearty voice, Rydell reached the US Top 10 five times – with We Got Love, Swingin’ School, his version of the standard Volare, Wild One (also a UK Top 10 hit) and Forget Him. The latter is believed to be the inspiration for the Beatles’ She Loves You after Paul McCartney said the song was inspired by an unnamed Rydell number."
Rydell had 29 other lesser hits spanning raucous rock’n’roll to swooning, string-backed balladry, including numerous other pop standards such as That Old Black Magic, Sway and Jingle Bell Rock, as well as songs hymning his region, such as Wildwood Days, an ode to the seaside town in New Jersey, which stayed in the US charts for nine weeks.
Rydell’s first break came aged nine on the talent show Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club. He was an adept drummer as well as a singer, and his path crossed with that of another future teen heartthrob from Philadelphia, Frankie Avalon, in the group Rocco and the Saints, before Rydell became a solo singer.
Rydell toured Europe and Australia and played New York’s renowned Copacabana nightclub. He made a brief jump to acting with a supporting role alongside Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret in the 1963 romantic comedy Bye Bye Birdie, but chose not to focus on a film career.
His career waned in the wake of Beatlemania and the British Invasion but was sustained with music and acting appearances on numerous variety shows, most notably The Red Skelton Show. Aided by an increasingly nostalgic fanbase, he continued to tour for the rest of his life, such as in a trio with Frankie Avalon and Fabian as the Golden Boys of Bandstand. He also hopped on the late 70s disco craze, re-recording Sway in the style.
Among those paying tribute to Rydell was the writer Stephen King, who said he was among “the most talented of the 50s and early 60s teen idols.” Sources: The Guardian, Variety
– Fitzroy ‘Bunny Diamond’ Simpson, a member of famed Jamaican reggae trio The Mighty Diamonds, died on April 1, age 70, after a long battle with diabetes.
Only three days before, the reggae-loving world was rocked when news came that Donald ‘Tabby Diamond’ Shaw had been killed in a drive-by shooting.
The Jamaica Gleaner wrote that "The saying ‘Diamonds are forever is one that has often been associated in music circles with reggae’s most enduring group, the Mighty Diamonds. Comprising Lloyd ‘Judge’ Ferguson, Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson and Donald ‘Tabby’ Shaw, the Diamonds have given such reggae anthems as Pass the Kutchie, Have Mercy, Right Time, Master Plan, Tamarind Farm and I Need a Roof. The group reached a milestone of 50 years in the music business in 2019 and had great plans to celebrate into 2020, and then came Covid-19. Nobody could have predicted that two years after the pandemic, with plans to hit the road soon, tragedy of such magnitude would strike."
Read the obit of Tabby Shaw here. Sources: Jamaica Gleaner, Dancehall Mag
– Roland White, a famed bluegrass mandolin player, died on April 1, age 83.
Saving Country Music writes that "There are not many sectors of bluegrass music that weren’t at one point or another touched by the work of mandolin player Roland White. The brother of fellow bluegrass legend and later country rocker Clarence White, an original member of The Kentucky Colonels, an acolyte of Bill Monroe in his Bluegrass Boys, a founding member of Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass, not to mention his later years in The Country Gazette and the famed Nashville Bluegrass Band, Roland White’s mandolin appeared all across the bluegrass catalogue.
White was born in Madawaska, Maine at the very tip-top of the state to a musical family of French Canadian stock. They moved to Burbank, California in 1955, and a couple of years later the three brothers of Roland, Eric, and Clarence were performing together regularly under the name The Country Boys. Though they began mostly as a folk-oriented string band, it was Roland getting his hands on the recordings of Bill Monroe that had the trio juicing up their rhythm, and veering into bluegrass.
Being based in LA made The Country Boys unique, influential, and ultimately, foundational to the emergence of bluegrass on the West Coast. They appeared in movies, performed on The Andy Griffith Show, and by 1963 were going under the name of The Kentucky Colonels, setting the folk scene in California on fire, spirited forward by Roland’s mandolin, and Clarence’s flat-picking.
When The Kentucky Colonels disbanded around 1967, Roland White would go on to work for Bill Monroe after the Father of Bluegrass. Roland played guitar, and won a spot in the Bluegrass Boys where he remained for three years. The job also facilitated Roland White’s move from California to Nashville.
In 1969 he joined Lester Flatt’s The Nashville Grass. The time in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys had served White well, perfecting his mandolin skills after sharing the stage with Monroe on so many nights. Clarence was ready to get back to his roots, so he formed a band with Roland called The White Brothers. The project was cut short when Clarence White was killed by a drunk driver in July of 1973.
Roland then joined the Country Gazette, a staple of bluegrass music for some 20 years. White quit the group in 1989 to join the Nashville Bluegrass Band. The group received numerous Grammy nominations over the years. Source: Saving Country Music.
– Andy (Andrew) Wickham, a British native who became prominent in the US music business as a producer, A&R director, and talent scout in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, died on March 29.
Wickham had worked as a commercial artist in London and was employed at Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label before moving to LA to work for Lou Adler's Dunhill label. He met Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, and was hired as the label's "company freak" to scout new talent and forge a bond between rebellious young artists and established Warner Bros. executives.
As an executive at Warner Bros./Reprise, Wickham signed Joni Mitchell, Eric Andersen, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Buck Owens, Guy Clark, a-ha and others to recording contracts. In 1975, he was assigned to oversee the establishment of Warner's Country Music division in Nashville.
Wickham produced recordings by The Everly Brothers, Phil Ochs, Doug Kershaw, The Mighty Sparrow, Nancy Sinatra, Goldie Hawn, Van Dyke Parks, Steve Young, and many others. He also wrote liner notes for many albums.
Journalist Barney Hoskyns, in Hotel California, his 2006 book about the late '60s–early '70s Southern California music scene, described Wickham as Warner's "house hippie" who “worked Laurel Canyon’s narrow-laned hills, had long hair and did not keep office hours." In a Facebook post reporting Wickham's death, Hoskyns noted that "Wickham was a fascinating chap who championed all manner of oddballs (not least his friend Van Dyke Parks) at Warners – but rather blotted his copybook and credentials by later becoming a reactionary, country-loving right-winger." Sources: Wikipedia, Barney Hoskyns, Rock's Back Pages