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MUSIC PEI Lifetime Achievement Award


"I have been able to make most of my living for four decades

in the music business

without having a hit or being a star."

(January 2014)

"When Rob Oakie (of MUSIC PEI) told my daughter Savannah that I was going to receive this award, he wanted to keep it a secret and surprise me at the awards show (on February 2nd).  She told him that probably wasn’t a good idea knowing me.  'It might give him a heart attack', she laughed.

Also, when Rob did tell me, my first reaction was 'I’m not done yet!'  Well... the powers that be just wanted to remind me who’s really in charge here. (I had a heart attack on January 29, 2014!)

What have I achieved over a life time in the music business?   Too many gigs to count (but probably in the number of about 7000).   I’ve sold maybe a total of 10,000 copies of my own recordings altogether.  I haven’t had much radio airplay.  TV exposure has been a few CBC appearances, and a regular performer on the Cable 10 Telethon.  But I have been able to make most of my living for four decades in the music business without having a hit or being a star.

Looking back, it’s been quite the journey.  I’ve played and recorded a lot of different music, written some, seen a lot of the world, and collaborated with some amazingly gifted talents.  Projects out of my studio have probably sold a total of 200,000 copies, so I guess that’s not insignificant.  As our friend Patrick Ledwell would say - 'NOT TOO BAD!'

Career wise, my biggest influences early on were 'The Beatles', 'The Who', 'The Bee Gees', and touring playing bass with rockabilly pioneer Buddy Knox.  He taught me the meaning of professionalism, particularly one February night in Richibucto, New Brunswick when we played for a crowd of 6 people. Buddy asked me, 'so Gord, how do you like the big time?'

Getting into folk music in the 70's, the 80's and beyond, there were Bruce Cockburn, 'Ryan’s Fancy', 'The Irish Rovers', The Barra MacNeils, The Rankins and 'Great Big Sea' (GBS were in regular rotation at the Olde Dublin Pub with my group “Jar O’Comfort”).

Of course, meeting Richard Wood was one of the most fortunate happenings of my life.  Playing music with him regularly from when he was a teenager has led to many notable adventures all over the world.  We have stood together through thick & thin, still do, and I love him.

Other Island musicians I’ve worked with on stage and in the studio are literally too many to mention.  I am constantly amazed at the diversity, and talent level of young and old here on the Island, from the fearlessness of a 16 year old Cynthia MacLeod when I first met her, to the improvisational genius of the late Doug Riley.  I don’t want to try to list everyone for fear of forgetting some, but they have all contributed to my career.

Lifetime achievement?  My greatest lifetime achievements are here on stage.  Talking my sweetheart Charlene into marrying me 41 years ago, and the family that has grown around us.  That’s the best lifetime achievement!  

I’m truly humbled with this award and thank MUSIC PEI for the honour.  And if the powers that be will allow, I’m not done yet!"


Lifetime History


Click here for entire presentation script


Click here for article in The Charlottetown Guardian


Click here for the Youtube video of the presentation