R.I.P. John Stockfish Sundown, You Better Take Care
Submitted by Don Graham
The original bass player for Gordon Lightfoot, who with guitarist Red Shea formed the back up band for the legendary Lightfoot, passed away on Monday, August 20th, 2012 of natural causes. He was 69.
A self-taught musician who also trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music, John began his musical life touring extensively throughout Europe and North America as the bassist for Tommy Danton and the Echoes.
For a few years in the early 60s, he performed as part of the band on the daily CBC Music Hop show hosted by Alex Trebec, and the CTV television music show After Four, backing up the stars of the day like Bobby Curtola.
The highest profile part of his musical career began in 1965 as the bassist for Gordon Lightfoot during the successful United Artists years. John was an integral of the Lightfoot sound during the concert tours and recording sessions, Many times we saw the trio and small coffee houses in Montreal, so close and personal and an amazing sound.
John’s bass line for Sundown Lightfoot’s big record that peaked at number one in 1974 was a big part of the records success and sonic quality.
In 1969, John moved to New York where he lived, recorded, and performed with the late Jim Croce. This included appearances on both the Mike Douglas Show and the Today Show at the beginning of Croce's career.
When he came to Toronto in the early 70s, John continued his music as the bassist for Dan Hill on his first RCA recording sessions and for Tommy Hunter, performing on both the Canadian and European tours, as well as on the Tommy Hunter television and radio show on CBC.
Canadian country music legend Dick Damron was moved by Stockfish’s passing, having recording quite a few tracks with in the 70’s. “John always laid down a groove, following the bouncing ball was not in his repertoire. He’ll be missed.”
I actually had the pleasure of recording with John in 1972 at RCA studio when I was fortunate enough to make a record with Toronto’s “A” Team , including John Stockfish on bass, Red Shea on guitar and dobro, Ollie Strong on steel guitar, Willie Cantu ( original member of Buck Owens Buckaroos) on drums and John Arpin on piano. Mr. Stockfish was a gem to work with, professional, fast and precise and most importantly, very supportive and encouraging.
Over the years John has played with artists such as Ron Nigrini, and legendary artists such as Gene MacLellan, Mel Torme and Cab Calloway.
He also throughout his career was musical director for numerous television and radio productions. He was also involved in music publishing in Nashville, Tennessee. John is survived by his four children Sheri, John, Jennifer and Will, and grandchildren Marlee, Travis, Nathan, and Mia, as well as surviving siblings George, Billy, Gordie and Darlene. A private family funeral was held on Friday, August 31st at St. Peter's Erindale Anglican Church in Mississauga. In lieu of flowers, donations were made to the Royal Conservatory of Music.