Deane Cameron Remembered As 'Champion' Of Canadian Music


Deane Cameron, described as a champion of Canadian music for four decades, has died. He was 65.

Tributes are pouring in for the former record label executive who, according to friends, suffered a heart attack while out for a walk near his cottage outside North Bay.

"My heart is truly broken," Tom Cochrane shared on Twitter. "I will never forget my friend, Deane Cameron we travelled such a long road together, he was my brother, I will not forget you my friend." Singer Richard Marx tweeted: "We had great success together and he was really one of the good guys."

Country star Terri Clark tweeted: "Thank you Deane Cameron for everything you did for me, and so many others. You were truly an artist advocate, who really cared." Gord Bamford said: "I had a tremendous amount respect for the man in every aspect of who he was and his honest and integrity in all he did."

He was a pillar of the Canadian music industry and a massive supporter of Canadian music. We in The Hip all looked up to him and we all thought he was a 1st class person. Deepest sympathies to his family + friends. A life well lived - Paul Langlois, The Tragically Hip

Clint Moffatt of The Moffatts told that Cameron was "always so kind" to the band of brothers. "Everything seemed a bit calmer when Deane was in the room," he said. "He just had that 'everything is gonna be OK' thing about him.

"I truly believe that he assembled one of the great label teams. Everybody worked with passion and dedication, and they all had an amazing spirit about themselves which is a reflection of Deane."

Moffatt said he only has "great memories" of Cameron. "He will be missed!"

On Twitter, Andy Kim wrote: "What happens to your body & soul when your friend calls you & sets a time to meet next week, only to find out today he’s passed on without warning? I crumble to my knees, thankful for his friendship. Deane Cameron was a pioneer soldier in the Canadian Music Scene. Onto the light."

Canadian performing rights organization SOCAN remembered Cameron as "a giant of the Canadian music industry," in a tweet. "Our sympathies go out to his many friends and family at this sad time."

Sony Music Canada tweeted: "He was a leader, mentor and friend to those who knew him, and an incredible contributor to our industry."

So sad to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of Deane Cameron, a tremendous and longtime supporter of Canadian musicians and a driving force behind the Massey Hall revitalization project. He will be missed. - RUSH 

Singer Damhnait Doyle told the music community is devastated. “He truly was Captain Canada,” she said.

“I met Deane when I was 17, and he was a huge guiding force in my life, as a solo artist and especially with my group Shaye with Kim Stockwood and Tara Maclean – that was 100 per cent his idea.

“Aside from bringing East Coast music to the forefront nationally, the strides he has made at Massey Hall will forever be his legacy. It’s a sad day.”

Ron Sexsmith called Cameron "a true believer in the potential of Canadian Music and its artists" and Shawn Hook credited him with helping to "get my music career off the ground at EMI," adding, "he helped so many others along the way."

Juno-winning artist Dalbello called Cameron “a true groundbreaker in the Canadian music business, an icon, a visionary.” In a tweet, she said she was “so profoundly sad. And am so very grateful for Deane’s unwavering support, not just for myself but for the countless Canadian artists for whom Deane discovered, signed and believed in.”

Deane signed The Rankins in 1992 and helped us and many other artists achieve many career milestones.  Friend, champion, and all-‘round great guy – Deane you will be missed. Heartfelt condolences. - Jimmy Rankin

A tweet from the Polaris Music Prize read: "He touched so many lives in Canadian music. He's the classic record exec; a musical patriot; a lover of artists and was an early champion of Polaris. He'll be dearly and massively missed."

Cameron was a drummer in the band Harvest with his pal Tom Cochrane before he landed a job in the warehouse at EMI Music Canada. He went on to work other music industry gigs, including at a distribution company that represented labels like Virgin, Island and Sire.

He returned to EMI Music Canada in 1977 as manager of talent acquisition, then director, then vice-president of A&R – signing artists like Corey Hart and Luba. In 1988, Cameron became the youngest Canadian president of a major label when he took over the top job at EMI Music Canada. He stepped down in 2012 when the label merged with Universal Music.

The list of Canadian talent Cameron worked with and supported is a long one. It includes Nickelback, The Tea Party, Brett Kissel, Moist, Serena Ryder, Corey Hart, Luba, Helix, Prism, Streetheart, Anne Murray, The Moffatts, Strange Advance, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Glass Tiger, Johnny Reid, k-os, The Rankin Family, and Stompin’ Tom Connors.

He took Max Webster to England & was there when we recorded at Abbey Road for Top Of The Pops .. So many laughs together .. Always a huge interest in the Canadian music scene ! My deepest condolences to his wife and family. - Kim Mitchell

In 2015, Cameron was named president and CEO of Toronto music venues Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

One of the many acts Cameron developed was rock band Sheriff, whose bassist Wolf Hassel told that Cameron "was always passionate about music, and a very affable guy with a good sense of humour."

Winnipeg rock band The Watchmen took to Twitter on Thursday to remember Cameron as "a champion" of the band's 1998 album Silent Radar.

Veteran music journalist Nicholas Jennings, whom Cameron commissioned to write a history of EMI Music Canada, shared on Facebook that he was “shocked and deeply saddened.” Jennings said Cameron “championed so many great artists over the years, mentored many in the industry, and was in the process of taking Massey Hall into a new era. The loss to Canadian music is immeasurable.”

Chris Taylor, president of Entertainment One Music, tweeted: "Very, very sorry to hear of the passing of Deane Cameron. He was music-loving advocate for Canadian talent. A true role model for us execs."

We are profoundly saddened to hear about the passing of our dear friend Deane Cameron. He was a champion of ours when we had few, made those around him feel like family and his belief and passion for Canadian music and Artists was second to none. Rest in power #CaptainCanada - Nickelback

Cameron was honoured with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the Junos in 2011 as well as the Hank Smith Award of Excellence from the Canadian Country Music Association.

In 2010, Cameron was made a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his place as "a persistent and passionate executive in the recording industry [and] an outspoken advocate for First Nations artists and their music [who] has opened doors for Canadian artists in national and international markets, and was instrumental in shaping the successful careers of a number of Canadian music stars."

Cameron served on the board of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for 14 years and helped develop its charitable program MusiCounts.

A tweet from the Juno Awards reads: "It is with our deepest sympathy that we acknowledge the passing of Deane Cameron. He was a trailblazer in the Canadian music industry, dedicated to artist development, and part of the CARAS & MusiCounts family from the beginning. The impact from his legacy will be felt forever."

This article has been updated with tributes since it was first published.