Alan Thicke's 'meteoric' rise remembered by London, Ont. friend

Alan Thicke got his start as a performer in London, Ont. Bill Brady was an on-air personality at the time and he quickly developed a friendship with Thicke that would last a lifetime.

'He was a consummate entertainer,' says long-time friend Bill Brady

Bill Brady fondly remembers his friend Alan Thicke. (Bill Brady)

Prominent entertainers continue to pay tribute to Alan Thicke, the Canadian-born actor who died Tuesday of a heart attack, best known for his role as father figure Dr. Jason Seaver on the sitcom, Growing Pains.

But the 69-year-old also produced television specials for performers such as singer Anne Murray and Johnny Cash, got his start as a performer in London, Ont.

After graduating from Western University in the 1960s, Thicke took a job as an overnight announcer at CFPL Radio.

Bill Brady was an on-air personality at the time. Just prior to Thicke's hire, Brady was asked to to be a judge at a talent show at the university.

"I went and thought there'd be a lot of pain to endure," Brady told CBC. "It turned out that some of the youngsters were very gifted. And Alan Thicke stood out as funny and bright and deliberate."

That's when their friendship began. Brady said Thicke performed two roles at the radio station. He wrote copy but showed more interest in playing the guitar. He also was the all-night DJ.

"And then the CBC called, and he had a chance to go and work as a writer in...Toronto," Brady said. "And he never really looked back after that."

Lifelong friends

The two remained friends throughout Thicke's career with Brady being invited to one of Thicke's weddings.

"I knew his boys. He would stay in touch," Brady said. "If he was in Canada, he'd make sure he called. If he was going to be anywhere near us, we'd try to see him. We followed his career closely and it was pretty meteoric."

Thicke regularly visited London, where he established the Alan Thicke Centre for Juvenile Diabetes. He came back several times to help with various causes, but was mostly interested in doing fundraisers for medical research. ​Brady remembers Thicke as a versatile performer with a variety of natural talent.

"He could do comedy, he could sing, he played the guitar. He could write music," Brady said. "He was a consummate entertainer."