A veteran of the vibrant Toronto rock and folk music scene of the 1960s, and later a mainstay in GTA music circles has died. Drummer Steve Wilson was 73 and lived in Oakville.
As a young man Steve Wilson joined a Drum and Bugle Corps and his drum instructor was none other than the legendary Skip Prokop of Lighthouse. They remained friends until Skip’s passing a few years ago.
Wilson entered the Toronto music scene as a member of the 60″s rock band “A Passing Fancy.” The band had some modest success on the CHUM radio charts, and the leader of the group, Greg Hambleton, penned the song “I Believe in Sunshine” which later, note-for-note, became a hit for a US group, Madrigal. Toronto of the mid 60’s was a hotbed of Canadian music. The Yorkville district boasted dozens of nightclubs featuring the Likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Ian and Sylvia, Joni Mitchell, the Sparrows who later became Steppenwolf, Luke and the Apostles and Robby Lane and the Disciples. After leaving Passing Fancy, Wilson was reunited with Prokop drumming for the group the Paupers.
After is rock days were over, Wilson moved into other musical genres. His first big band experience came under the tutelage of John Hood and his big band. Later as Wilson went into other lines of work and started a family he kept up[ a performance schedule in a wide variety of groups in the GTA that included several big bands, jazz combo’s, rock, funk and Latin groups as well as musical theatre productions.
Wilson played in Hamilton with the Jazz Connection Big Band, that, as Pearl Company Artistic Director Gary Santucci recalled, “filled our beloved Pearl Company with a great soundscape from Swing to Bebop, Latin to Bossa Nova. Steve also held down the drum chair for my group Spanjazz and was an integral part in developing our sound.”
“He also shared his knowledge and experience as a teacher and mentor for many aspiring drummers. He will be missed by all who knew him. His beat lives on. We are sending our heartfelt condolences to the Wilson family.”
On April 30 at 8:00pm Spanjazz will take to the stage at Pearl Company; dedicating the concert to celebrate Steve Wilson’s life and his friendship.