Thread: John Stockfish
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:20 PM   #12
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Re: John Stockfish

John Stockfish, famed Canadian bassist, dead at 69 – Tom May remembers him

September 4, 2012

Here is an obit from Canada.

Northwest Folk musician, writer and DJ Tom May wrote this remembrance today:

Memories of John Stockfish;

I was so sad to hear of the passing of John Stockfish, Gordon Lightfoot’s first bass player. As someone said to me back in the 70′s, every Canadian musician knew that distinctive bass pattern than John played on “Song For a Winters Night”; it was just part of the country’s musical vernacular.

I met John when I was in Toronto trying to start my career as a musician; I was just 19 years old in that autumn of 1972. We were introduced by old friends of Gordon Lightfoot. I was so nervous the first time I played guitar and sang for him; but he was very reassuring and kind. I don’t know how old I thought he was at the time, but looking at his obituary, I realize he was just 10 years older than I ; so he was only 29 years old then, but he seemed much older and wiser.

I would play all of my newly written songs for him, and he would critique them. One song I still do from those years, probably my best song from that period, is “When his Lessons Learned”, from my CD “Blue Northern”. John praised that song, and it meant the world to an unsophisticated, unsure kid from Nebraska.

I would go over to John’s house quite frequently; he and his wife at that time kindly had me over on Christmas Eve one year, when I had no other place to go, and knew so few people in Toronto.

When I was not performing myself, I would go down to the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Toronto, where John played with a great jazz band. I would sit and listen, nurse a Molson’s Stock Ale, and talk to John during the breaks about music and life.

He and I did one show together, in the small Ontario town of Fergus, Ontario. I remember it being in a large High School gym with terrible acoustics, but I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever to have John Stockfish’s exquisite bass playing backing me up.

He would regale me with stories of his years backing up Lightfoot. He was a little bitter about the terms under which he left the band after the “Back Here on Earth” album, but he and Gord patched things up eventually, and of course John played on many of the “Sundown” cuts-including the title song. I was privileged to hear the rehearsal demo tapes for that album, done at Richard Harrison’s studio, before the actual recording of “Sundown”.

John was a very intense individual, but he was gracious of spirit and generous with his time when I was a young musician, for which I will be forever grateful. He had a unique touch and musical feel to how he played the bass.

Thank you for your impact on my life, John Stockfish; rest in peace, old friend.
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