Sam 'The Record Man' Sniderman dies
Anne Murray remembers Sniderman as "gracious, sweet and kind"
Posted: Sep 24, 2012 3:10 AM PT
Last Updated: Sep 24, 2012 7:46 PM PT
Sam Sniderman, the man whose Yonge Street store became a mecca for millions of Toronto music fans, has died.
Sniderman will forever be known by the name he chose for his landmark store — Sam the Record Man.
A statement from the family released early Monday noted that Sniderman will be remembered as a giant in the Canadian music business.
"Sam was the last of the great Canadian showmen that were able to establish themselves as household names purely through the force of their personality," said close family friend Brian Robertson in the statement.
"He was a mentor to literally hundreds of Canadian artists and musicians, and the Yonge Street record store and Sam's presence there was the centre of the Canadian music industry's universe for over three decades."
Sniderman passed away "peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by loved ones," the statement said. He was 92.
His career in the Canadian music business started when he began selling records out of his brother Sid's radio store on College Street.
In 1959 he opened his record store on Yonge Street.
One of his sons said Sniderman began selling records for the same reason many young men do things: to impress a girl who was a music lover.
"That story of love has turned into this overall labour of love we all have for this store," he told CBC News in an earlier interview.
The Yonge Street store remained as a flashing neon beacon for music aficionados for nearly half a century.
Eventually Sam the Record Man stores would dot the country.
But the Yonge Street store officially closed on June 30, 2007 — a victim of the digital age.
"We can't compete with what's happening in technology," Bobby Sniderman said at the time.
But Sam the Record Man's had already become a cultural touchstone for millions of record fans and would become part of Toronto's music history.
The Yonge Street store became a hangout for everyone who loved music in Toronto. The store's bins overflowed with everything from the latest pop and rock, to blues, classical, folk and traditional.
Customers would spend hours thumbing through the vinyl records.
The store's annual Boxing Day sale was legendary. Large crowds would line up, snaking down Yonge Street, for hours before the store opened, hoping to get a bargain.
Guitarist Randy Bachman said that he was always eager to visit the Yonge Street store.
"Sam Sniderman was truly everyone’s friend," he said in statement to CBC News.
"As kids from Winnipeg all of us in The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive couldn't wait till our next Toronto visit and go to his store. It was the equivalent of Disneyland for all music lovers. I used to spend afternoons there and then eat dinner upstairs. He will be missed by all and Toronto and Canada will never be the same."
Ryerson to preserve sign
Sniderman's Sam the Record Man neon sign also became a landmark in the city. It towered over Yonge Street and quickly became a symbol of the street.
Ryerson University eventually acquired the property. The university also owns the iconic neon sign and has promised to preserve it.
University president Sheldon Levy said that Sniderman was "a wonderful friend and neighbour" to Ryerson for decades and that the school is proud to be developing the site where the famous record store once stood.
"A site that was always a magnet for young people will be revitalized as a hub for this and future generations of young people and retail," Levy said in a statement released Monday
A major promoter of Canadian music, Sniderman received the Order of Canada in 1976.
He was also inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
'Gracious, sweet and kind'
Canadian recording legend Anne Murray said Monday Sniderman will be missed.
"Not only did he sell the records … but he came out to shows … so he was a supporter in every way of the Canadian music industry," she said in an interview with CBC News.
"He was always so gracious, sweet and kind to me," Murray remembered. "Very generous."
Sniderman himself retired from the record store business in 2000.
The family said in the statement that they are planning a memorial service in October. The date will be announced at a later time.With files from The Canadian Press
Latest British Columbia News Headlines
- Drug users sue Abbotsford over anti-harm reduction bylaw
- Advocates for needle exchanges are suing the City of Abbotsford, saying the city's bylaw which bans harm reduction centres violates basic human rights. more »
- What kind of home can $380,588 buy?
- The national average price for a home rose to $380,588 in April 2013, an increase of 1.3 per cent from the previous year. But what can a house hunter expect to find for that price? more »
- Traffic circle accidents worry Kitsilano residents
- Residents along a popular biking lane along Vancouver's West 10th Avenue are concerned traffic circles are causing an increase in accidents between cars and cyclists. more »
- Harper to address Tory caucus amid Senate scandal
- Conservatives gathered Monday night to mourn the passing of a key architect in their rise to power — and to brace for the toughest test Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has faced since taking office on a promise to clean up politics in the national capital. more »
Top News Headlines
- Oklahoma tornado recovery work begins after deadly storm
- Rescue teams searched through the night looking for survivors after a deadly tornado that flattened homes and two schools in an Oklahoma City suburb, and officials have now reduced the death toll from 51 to 24. WATCH LIVE: U.S. President Obama is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. ET about the massive tornado. more »
- Harper 'upset' by conduct in Senate expense scandal
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a televised address to his Conservative caucus this morning to comment on the Senate expenses controversy that prompted the weekend resignation of his chief of staff, Nigel Wright. more »
- Horwath will support Ontario Liberal budget
- Ontario voters may get some indication today from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on whether the province is headed for a spring election. more »
- Keith Boag: Have you heard about the murderous abortion doctor?
- The gruesome trial and murder conviction of Philadelphia abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell is unlikely to change American abortion law, Keith Boag writes. But it has U.S. journalists questioning their priorities and how they cover such a sensitive issue. more »
- Fearful Oklahoma families search for children
- The parents and guardians stood in the muddy grass outside a suburban Oklahoma City church, listening intently as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off — survivors of Monday's deadly tornado. more »
- B.C. man feared kidnapped in Mexico
- Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx
- Vancouver man attacked, killed in Costa Rica
- Vancouver link to Hadfield's space guitar
- Nanaimo Facebook group takes aim at thieves
- Petition looks to rename Victoria Day
- Bid to re-open Langley Speedway
- Public raising funds to buy alleged Rob Ford crack video
- East Vancouver residents in 'guerrilla gardening' campaign