Lyman Potts compiled a huge catalogue of Canadian content for radio stations. He did it not because some government edict told him to, but because he wanted to. Mr. Potts, who has died at 102, built the foundations for the Canadian music industry by creating domestic content for radio stations, recording bands and singers in a collection called the Canadian Talent Library.
Gordon Lightfoot was one of the Canadian musicians. Mr. Potts arranged for the first recording session of the man who would go on to become one of the most successful recording artists in this country.
“Willa Burke, who worked at the office, said she’d heard this young singer named Gordon Lightfoot playing around the corner,” Mr. Potts recalled. “We went to see Gordon and asked if he’d like to record some of his music. He agreed and we did seven songs in a one-hour session,” Mr. Potts remembered years later.
“It was mostly traditional folk songs from the Maritimes I was singing back then at the Purple Onion,” Mr. Lightfoot said. But it also included at least two songs Mr. Lightfoot had written himself.
The problem facing radio stations here was how to get their hands on Canadian-produced music. The musicians’ union loved the rules that forced stations to play live music. There was no recording industry in this country so any recorded music came from the United States.
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