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Legendary Canadian music exec Deane Cameron has passed away

Legendary Canadian music exec Deane Cameron has passed away
Deane Cameron (Photo: Jag Gundu/Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian music industry took a huge hit this week with the sudden passing of Deane Cameron, former president of EMI Music Canada.

Cameron, who had served as president and CEO of The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto since 2015, suffered a heart attack on Thursday while out for a walk in Northern Ontario outside of North Bay. He was only 65.

Over the course of his 40 year career, Cameron was a monumental force in the Canadian scene and helped build Canada’s presence on the international stage as we know it today. He was a true champion of Canadian music and one of our most respected global ambassadors. He was known to some as Captain Canada, and came by the name honestly.

During the span of his illustrious career Cameron was responsible for signing numerous well-known acts including Canadian rapper k-os, who released his debut album Exit on EMI in 2002. He also had ties to CP Records, whose co-founder launched XO and manages hit-maker, The Weeknd.

The list of artists Cameron is associated could be confused with a list of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s inductees. There’s Corey Hart, Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Glass Tiger, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Rita MacNeil, The Rankin Family, and an old school friend by the name of Tom Cochrane (he got his start in the music scene playing drums for Cochrane). And that’s just a small sample of the talent Cameron worked with. More recently, he’s had ties with July Talk, Hamilton’s own Serena Ryder, Nickelback, Johnny Reid, and various others.

Cameron originally joined EMI in 1977 as a manager, and by 1988 he became the youngest president of a Canadian major record label. He served in the position for an impressive 24 years. His lifelong contributions earned him a membership to the Order of Canada in 2010, and Cameron served on the Board of Directors of CARAS (Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) for over 14 years.

“In 2000, proud of the company’s heritage, Cameron spearheaded the creation of the hardcover book ‘Fifty Years of Music – The Story of EMI Music Canada’.” – FYI Music News

There has been an outpouring of tributes since the news first came to light.

Masssey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall were one of the first to release a statement about their CEO’s passing:

“Together, we mourn the loss of our President and CEO, and most importantly, our friend and greatest champion, Deane Cameron. His unwavering passion for supporting and promoting Canadian and Indigenous artists, and his contributions to the music community have inspired so many. We extend our love to his family and all those whose lives he touched and we share in this great loss with our patrons and colleagues. We will miss him with all of our hearts.”

Derrick Ross, president at Slaight Music, was also impacted by the loss:

“It is heartbreaking that we have to experience this loss. Deane created a family at EMI and we have lost a great man, mentor and most importantly a friend we relied on to support us as our champion. We achieved better for ourselves so that he would be proud of us and this loss is devastating. We are brothers and sisters because of him and we must celebrate that.”

Legendary Canadian band Rush also released a statement:

“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.”

There’s no doubt Cameron’s legacy will live on, and the impact he’s had on Canadian music will be evident for years to come. Our thoughts are with the Cameron family during this time of sadness.

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