Canada's 'Godfather Of Disco' Robert Ouimet Dies At 74

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JUNO-winning producer and DJ Robert Ouimet died Thursday at 74.

“He was a pioneer, a true Montreal icon,” wrote veteran nightlife columnist Richard Burnett, in a Facebook post. “Hugely influential and justly hailed as the Godfather of Montreal disco. He knew how to fill a dance floor and fill our hearts with love.”

A native of Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, he started his DJ career in the early ‘70s at a small club named Love in downtown Montreal before moving to Lime Light, where he was principle DJ until 1981.

“There was a woman who had a record store in Saint-Jérôme and she kept me all the Cashbox [magazines] that I wanted … after she had finished with it,” he recalled in 2016. “I was always knowing what was happening with music. I used to hitchhike to Montreal to buy 45s at a record store and go back to Saint-Jérôme again, by hitchhiking. That's how I started.”

Ouimet introduced Montreal audiences to acts like Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones, James Brown and The Trammps. He would spend weekdays in New York City discovering the hottest new music and return to Montreal on weekends to share it with eager club goers.

When disco fizzled, he focused on new wave and house music.

According to a bio, Ouimet won the Best Canadian DJ Award from Billboard in 1977.

He signed a record deal in the ‘90s and, with his Red Light partner Miguel Graça, won a JUNO Award in 1994 for Best Dance Recording for “Thankful.”

In a Facebook post on Friday, Graça remembered Ouimet as “a great human being.”

“In the 1970s, Montreal had lots of clubs and great DJs, but Robert Ouimet was in a class of his own,” musician and DJ Christian Pronovost told Le Devoir. “He showed me and many other DJs in Montreal what it was like to have vision … he was untouchable.”