Stompin' Tom Connors
Thomas Charles "Stompin' Tom" Connors, OC (February 9, 1936 – March 6, 2013) was one of Canada's most prolific and well-known country and folk singer-songwriters. Focusing his career exclusively on his native Canada, Connors is credited with writing more than 300 songs and has released four dozen albums, with total sales of nearly 4 million copies. Connors died at age 77 in his home in Ballinafad, Ontario on March 6, 2013, from natural causes.
His songs have become part of the Canadian cultural landscape. Three of his best-known songs — Sudbury Saturday Night, Bud the Spud and The Hockey Song — play at every home game of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. The Hockey Song is played at games throughout the National Hockey League.
He was born Thomas Charles Connors in Saint John, New Brunswick to the teenaged Isabel Connors and her boyfriend Thomas Sullivan. He was a cousin of New Brunswick fiddling sensation, Ned Landry. He spent a short time living with his mother in a low-security women's penitentiary before he was seized by Children's Aid Society and was later adopted by the Aylward family in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island.
At the age of 15 he left his adoptive family to hitchhike across Canada, a journey that consumed the next 13 years of his life as he travelled between various part-time jobs while writing songs on his guitar, literally singing for his supper. In the coldest part of winter, he welcomed vagrancy arrests in order to have a warm place to sleep. At his last stop in Timmins, Ontario, which may also have been his big "break", he found himself a nickel short of a beer at the city's Maple Leaf Hotel. The bartender, Gaet Lepine, agreed to give Tom a beer if he would play a few songs. These few songs turned into a 13-month contract to play at the hotel, a weekly spot on CKGB in Timmins, eight 45-RPM recordings, and the end of the beginning for Tom Connors.
During the mid-1970s, Connors wrote and recorded "The Consumer", an ode to bill-paying that became the theme song for the popular Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) consumer affairs program, Marketplace. For the first few seasons, Connors appeared in the opening credits of the program, before "The Consumer" was replaced as the theme — initially by an instrumental background version and ultimately by another piece of music entirely.
In 1974 Tom had a mini-series running on CBC Television in which he met and exchanged with folks from all across Canada. The series called "Stompin Tom's Canada" was co-produced with the help of CBC and ran for 26 episodes of 30 minutes each.
Typically writing about Canadian lore and history, some of Connors' better-known songs include "Bud the Spud", "Big Joe Mufferaw", "The Black Donnellys", "The Martin Hartwell Story", "Reesor Crossing Tragedy", "Sudbury Saturday Night" and "The Hockey Song" (also called "The Good Old Hockey Game"); the last is frequently played over sound systems at National Hockey League (NHL) games.
Throughout his years, Tom never lost touch with Gaet Lepine, the bartender he befriended in Timmins and the two co-wrote many songs together. These songs are featured in Stompin' Tom's 250 Songs songbook.
The song that Tom wrote the fastest was Maritime Waltz; time, 12 minutes
Death and memorial service
Connors died on March 6, 2013 at his home in Ballinafad. On March 7, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa lowered its flag to half-mast to mark his passing, and several members of the federal New Democratic Party caucus, led by former musicians Charlie Angus and Andrew Cash, performed a group rendition of Connors' signature song Bud the Spud in the foyer of the Canadian House of Commons in tribute.
A memorial is scheduled to be held on March 13, 2013 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre in Peterborough, Ontario.
|Stompin' Tom Connors|
Connors in 2002
|Birth name||Thomas Charles Connors|
|Also known as||Tommy Messer|
|Born||February 9, 1936|
Saint John, New Brunswick
|Died||March 6, 2013 (aged 77)|
|Years active||1964–1978, 1988–2013|
|Labels||EMI, Boot, Rebel, Dominion, Cynda, ACT|