Canadian music champion Deane Cameron dead at 65

Deane Cameron, the longtime president and CEO of EMI Music Canada, died Thursday of a sudden heart attack. He was 65.

Cameron made history in 1988 when he became the youngest Canadian president of a major music label.

Starting out as a drummer in the band Harvest with Tom Cochrane, Cameron began working in the warehouse at EMI in 1977. He worked his way up the ranks to vice-president of A&R, signing acts that included Corey Hart, Luba, The Rankin Family, Kim Stockwood, Alfie Zappacosta, The Watchmen, I Mother Earth, and Johnny Reid, among many others.

Cameron was president and CEO of the label from 1988 to 2012, when EMI was acquired by Universal Music. Since Sept 2015, he’d been president and CEO of Toronto music venues Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

An anti-piracy advocate and voice for the advancement of Canadian artists and music, Cameron was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010 and was the recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the 2011 JUNO Awards.

Peter Diemer, EMI’s former vice-president of National Promotion, told Broadcast Dialogue that Cameron was a “true Canadian.”

“When he received the Order of Canada it was one of the proudest days of his life. He was generous, passionate, honourable and loyal beyond comprehension,” said Diemer in an emailed statement. “He was truly one of the best and most caring people on this planet. In the almost 40 years that I knew Deane he was my mentor, a boss, but more than anything he really was a dear friend and part of our own family. We will all miss his belly laughs, joy for life and the best one-liners you’ve ever heard.”

The Canadian radio community also chimed in on Cameron’s passing, including Jackie Rae Greening, program director at CFCW Edmonton, and Chris Scheetz, morning show co-host at CISN Country 103.9 Edmonton, who both served with Cameron on the board of the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).

“I remember at a CCMA board meeting a number of years ago, when Deane Cameron spoke passionately about why Canadian artists didn’t get #1’s in our country. A few later his got his wish and SO many artists today have him to thank,” Scheetz tweeted.

Cameron also served on the board of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) for over 14 years and was crucial in helping develop music education charity MusiCounts.

 


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