By Marty Forbes
Sunday August 7th, 2016
David Farrell FYI: Article HERE
Last night Bobby Curtola packed the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto with a history book of Canadian music biz pioneers—musicians, one-time power brokers, broadcasters, and fans of the boy pop star from Thunder Bay who died heartbroken in June following a car accident that killed his partner Karyn Rochford in December 2015.
He was a pop star who made it in Canada, and made it before the Canadian music business had grown out of short pants. He sold hundreds of thousands of hit singles, had top 10 records nationwide, and he did it before the Canadian content regulations, before the support machinery, such as FACTOR, before social media—and before the music industry created CARAS and today’s edition of the Juno Awards.
And last night everyone from Gordon Lightfoot to Duff Roman and Roger Ashby and Larry LeBlanc made a point of telling everyone listening that Bobby was one of the nicest people they ever met–and wasn’t it time CARAS and the Juno Awards recognized that Bobby Curtola deserves recognition, and deserves to have his name in Canada’s Music Hall of Fame.
Some, including veteran music agent Tommy Wilson, have been preaching this gospel for several years, but so far CARAS has steadfastly held firm and stayed tight lipped about a legacy of artists, including Curtola, who deserve recognition and remain excluded. The Academy has honoured umpteen dozens over the years, many of these artists continuing to have vital careers, making albums, releasing singles, touring arenas—and continuing to make big money.
And then there are the many who were a part of what makes CARAS what it is today who have been seemingly overlooked and forgotten for one reason or another.
Bobby’s legacy was honoured with affection, respect and love. It was a curious gathering of the old-guard. One-time powerful retail chain bosses such as Vito Ierullo and Dave Cubitt, promoter Martin Onrot—and on the screen, making sure they were heard too, the late Bob McAdorey, and the still vital Red Robinson. Ron Sexsmith cut a video, performing one of Bobby’s songs. TeeVee Records founder Ed LaBuick flew in from Palm Springs to share a story about “Colonel” Tom Parker telling him he had seen Curtola many years back in Las Vegas and how he wished he had managed him. Sanders’ biggest client at the time, Elvis Presley, was also a fan of the singer who had cut records in Nashville with Presley’s sidemen.
It was a love-in for a singer who touched many and created fan hysteria wherever he went in the 1960s. He was an original, he was a star—and last night it just would have been the right thing to do for CARAS to acknowledge the man as his two sons stood on stage and thanked us for keeping the memory of their father alive.
.Chris and Michael Curtola had put a lot of capital into making the night a success. They were clearly proud of what their father had achieved, and the love he had bestowed on them. As it was said from the stage, he was all about family. And their efforts were appreciated too. Evanov and Zoomer donated to the cause, helping to promote the event, Lisa Zbitnew waived her fee for the Phoenix, Gary Slaight made a donation to help with the event. There were others too who put time and effort and services at the disposal of Curtola’s two sons. It was a gathering of the clan. A remembrance of someone who made us proud to be who we are. An evening of respect for someone who had asked for little and gave a lot–to charities, to his family, and always to his fans.
In time, CARAS will move with the times and make some announcement–but last night was the right time, as was Tuesday night at the Ranch Roadhouse in Edmonton where another Bobby Curtola remembrance took place.
He was a good man with a big heart and a great talent. His legacy endures and now he needs to be given a final acknowledgement that goes beyond a small circles of friends and admirers at the Ranch Roadhouse and the Phoenix Concert Theatre.