Graeme Williamson Of Canada's Pukka Orchestra Dies


Graeme Williamson, frontman for the Canadian ‘80s group Pukka Orchestra, died Thursday.

A message on the band’s Facebook page said Williamson died in his native Scotland with his wife Iris at his side.

Williamson co-founded the Pukka Orchestra with Neil Chapman and Tony Duggan-Smith in 1979. They released a self-titled debut album in 1984 that spawned a Top 40 hit – a cover of “Listen to the Radio,” penned by Tom Robinson and Peter Gabriel.

Their song “Cherry Beach Express” was criticized by Toronto Police for highlighting police brutality by 52 Division officers.

"I've got a bone to pick with you / not-so-friendly boys in blue," sang Williamson. "When they come out of the station and into the street / everybody beats a hasty retreat."

Shortly after winning a CASBY Award for Most Promising Group, the Pukka Orchestra’s record label went into receivership and Williamson suffered kidney problems while visiting relatives in Scotland, where he later underwent a transplant.

Upon his return to Toronto, the Pukka Orchestra released a four-track EP, Palace of Memory in 1987.

Health problems plagued Williamson, though, and he returned to Scotland for treatment. In 1992, the group released Dear Harry, a collection of previously-recorded material.