Billy Bryans, drummer and co-founder of 1980s pop group The Parachute Club, has died at the age of 63 after a battle with lung cancer. Bryans, who was born in Montreal and lived in Toronto, was also a popular producer and engineer, and had worked with artists including Downchild Blues Band, Raffi and Dutch Mason.
Bryans also went to high school with Jack Layton. At a fundraiser for Bryans' cancer care 18 months ago, Jack told the story of how Bryans helped him win his first election - for high school student president - by suggesting that he adjust his campaign to "make it fun". Jack campaigned and won on a promise to get either the Rolling Stones or MG & The Escorts to play the Christmas dance.
Recently, Bryans had turned his attention to producing jazz, focusing on Cuban and Brazilian musicians in particular. Jose Ortega, artistic director of Toronto nightclub Lula Lounge, told CBC News Bryans "was there at the forefront, seeing this coming in and going 'wow, this is exciting'. Kind of absorbing it and maybe in a way interpreting it for Canada". Singer Laura Fernandez summed up his importance: "He's had a deep impact on Canadian music and the Canadian music scene".
For a commemoration of Billy's life, featuring an interview he did recently with CBC's Garvia Bailey, visit CBC Music. And check out one of The Parachute Club's hits, 'Rise Up' (with Billy on the drums) below:
The Parachute Club - 'Rise Up'