On Wednesday, legendary Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and musician Ray Griff died at the age of 75.
According to reports, the Vancouver-born, Calgary-raised Canadian Country Music Association Hall of
Famer passed away in hospital due to aspiration pneumonia following minor rotator cuff surgery.
“He was definitely one of the true pioneers of country music,” says Ed Harris,
fellow CCMA Hall of Famer and president of High Note Marketing, which, among other
things, consults with the Stampede on the Coca-Cola Stage and Nashville North.
“He was one of the first Canadians to venture south to Nashville and sell his songs
down there and write down there. He was right at the same calibre as the best writers in Nashville.”
He also recorded more than 30 albums and produced other artists such as Dick Damron and Jason McCoy.
Griff also hosted a pair of television shows, Good Time Country and Up-Town Country, and
until this past January, also had a syndicated radio show called Raymond’s Place.
Other awards and honours he received over his 60-year career in music include a SOCAN Lifetime Achievement
Award a star on Nashville’s Hall of Fame Walkway, and, just last year he was inducted into the Alberta Country Music Hall of Fame.
Harris says news of Griff’s passing was a “shock to everybody,” with the artist having
battled throat cancer — it was, Griff had noted in a January posting on his website, in remission —
but still currently working with a local producer on some reissues of his past.
Harris, who had known Griff personally and professionally for the past two decades, has nothing but fond
memories of his interactions with the legend, who had recently relocated to Vancouver Island with his wife, Trudy.
“Ray defined the term ‘country gentleman,’ ” he says. “He was always in good spirits,
always had a kind word, and he always had a big, beaming smile.”
He recalls watching Griff at Nashville North several years back, having booked him to perform
during Heritage Day at the Stampede.
“He came out there, and he would have been in his late sixties at that point, and the women
were still screaming,” Harris says and laughs. “It was good to see.
“He’s going to be missed.”
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