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Goodbye Mr. C.

Music has always been a big part of my life. In fact, my parents would say that it was too big a part of my life while I was in high school many years ago.
01 Goodbye Mr C
The headline read, “Bobby Curtola Stand By Me concert, a rock and roll delight”, published in the Southwestern Gazette, Virden, Manitoba, Saturday, April 18, 1998.” (l-r) Ed James, Donna Presley Early (Elvis Presley’s niece), and Bobby Curtola.

Music has always been a big part of my life. In fact, my parents would say that it was too big a part of my life while I was in high school many years ago. Music is still a big part of my life and for over 50 years I have been an active drummer in big and small bands all over the country. Recently we lost one of the few Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll stars of the 1960s - Bobby Curtola, who passed away too young, at 73 years.

His musical legacy started in 1960, with the hit single, “Always Want to Walk Along Hand in Hand With You”, “Hitch Hiker” (1961), “Destination Love” (1963), “Three Rows Over” (1964), and “Makin’ Love” (1965).

Over the years Curtola has had 25 Canadian Gold Singles, 11 Gold LPs, and received the Order of Canada in 1997. Not bad, for a kid from Thunder Bay.

As a musician, Curtola and I had some history dating back to 1966, when he was doing one of his cross Canada music tours. He was playing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my home town, in the month of June. When our phone rang, it was an offer from Curtola to be the drummer in his band, as they had just lost theirs.

I would go on the road with them and finish the tour in Ontario. I turned him down, since I was almost ready to graduate from Grade 12. However, in looking back over the years, I sometimes wonder what might have been.

Now I will jump ahead to April 1998, and Bobby is in Virden to do a show at the Aud Theatre.

Another local paper at that time, gave me the job to interview him. After a great interview, we talked about the old days on the road and he remembered the Halifax drummer request.

That evening at the Aud, he put on a powerful show to a sold-out audience and even gave me a shout-out, while on stage. Over the years, he has had a few ups and downs in his musical and business career, but he was always distinctly Canadian with unique Canadian modesty. When not playing music, his passion was children’s charities.

For me, he was an example of a real Canadian idol, and now that he is gone, I will remember him and continue to play his music on my 45 RPM records.