So we lost another one!
Greg Quill, Toronto Star arts writer and former editor of Music Express died at his Hamilton Ontario home May 5th from complications due to pneumonia and sleep apnea. Quill, aged 66, was a noted Australian recording artist with his bands; Country Radio and Southern Cross, a newspaper columnist and book author, but to myself and his fellow ME workmates, he was a loveable bear of a guy who contributed immensely to the establishment of Music Express as Canada’s national music magazine when we moved from Calgary to Toronto in March 1980.
Quill became Music Express’s first full time employee when hired as editor in 1983 to help myself, Conny Kunz and our writing staff which at the time was comprised of New Zealander Kerry Doole, Roman Mitz, Lenny Stoute and Tarin Elbert. Quill was the first ME staffer to be sent on a foreign assignment when he toured Hungary and Yugoslavia with Saga early in 1983 and his other major assignments included compiling an exhaustive two-part article on the history of April Wine. He also covered the three-day US Festival in San Bernadino California May 28th/29th/30th 1983, which featured major bands/artists like Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, the Clash, David Bowie and Toronto’s own Triumph.
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It was a big financial commitment for Music Express and it didn’t go down well with co/publisher Conny Kunz when she discovered he was filing full page features for the Toronto Star – effectively scooping his own magazine! The Toronto Star recognized his obvious talents and he left ME later that year to join the Star fulltime where he launched a series of scathing attacks on Concert Production International’s promoter Michael Cohl, titled Ticket Traumas.
During his tenure with Music Express, he played down the fact that he had been a major recording star in Australia, enjoying success with his country rock band Country Radio, which reached the charts with two songs; Gypsy Queen’ and `Wintersong’ and during 1972-73 toured the Aussie festival circuit with the likes of Elton John, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Santana. He also recorded two solo albums; `Fleetwood Plain’ and `Outlaw’s Reply’ before using an Australian Council For The Arts grant to travel to Toronto in 1975. After a failed attempt with his latest band Southern Cross, Quill ventured into freelance journalism (he published a Toronto weekly called Fridays with Richard Flohil that was a forerunner to NOW) before hooking up with Music Express.
I still remember our editor meetings at the Duke Of Gloucester pub on Yonge Street when he decided traveling up to Don Mills to our 209 Kingslake Road HQ was too far to go plus we could get more inspired chatting over a table full of beer. He and I were on the same wavelength in promoting Canadian music but he could hardly refuse a paycheque from the Toronto Star.
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Recently, I had tried to meet up with Greg but he had relocated first to Niagara-On-The –Lake and more recently to Hamilton. I had scheduled a get-together with former ME staffers to discuss my forthcoming Music Express book at the famed Madison Pub but Greg unfortunately had to bail at the last minute. He had re-ignited his music career, had released a collaborative effort with former Country Radio bandmate Kerryn Tolhurst called `”Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted” on True North Records and had enjoyed two further touring stints in Australia Many of his albums are about to be re-released, a never-before solo recording “Consequences” was also due out as well as new material he was working on for a release later this year.
Locally, he had formed a country roots band called Ironbark and had called me a couple of times to go out and see them play. Sadly on those two occasions, I had to work at my other security job, “But next time Mate! catch you next time”. Sadly, there won’t be a next time! Greg was supportive of my Music Express book, had read an early manuscript, seemed to enjoy the contents and had requested a review copy. It’s a review from him I would have cherished.