VANCOUVER (CelebrityAccess) – Legendary Canadian rock writer and critic Tom Harrison has passed away following reports he suffered a stroke on Christmas day. He is remembered for the time and effort put into the Vancouver music scene, his love of music, his writing talent, and his support of bands, regardless of whether others were covering them.
According to his official website, Harrison was born in St. Boniface, a French-Canadian-speaking city within Winnipeg and was the eldest of five kids. After moving between Canadian cities, Harrison and his family settled in North Vancouver. By the early 70s, he says, he became fascinated with the music scene, collecting records and always had an ear to the radio. However, it was in high school that he discovered he had a talent for writing.
His first job was at Toronto-based music monthly Beetle. Harrison wrote the editor of the publication as one of the music reviewers on staff “aggravated” him. Then he submitted his own reviews to show that he could “put up or shut up.” The editor contacted him, and his first review was published – of a Magma album. Beetle folded in 1975, and George Straight hired him at the Georgia Straight to replace Bob Geldof, who headed back to Ireland.
It was with the Georgia Straight that Harrison gave ink to rising bands that no one else was covering at the time – The Clash and Sex Pistols, to name a couple. Not to mention local bands such as D.O.A., Pointed Sticks, and the Modernettes. You can read about his time at the Straight in his own words HERE.
After picking up drums on his own, continuing to consume music rapidly and writing, Harrison was hired by The Province in 1979. In his spare time, he became the lead singer for a band called Bruno Gerussi’s Medallion, signed to Warner Bros. Records and released an album in 1989 – In Search of the Fourth Chord. He also co-hosted a cable TV show called Soundproof, which played videos and featured local bands.
After he joined The Province, Harrison established himself as a passionate music writer. He covered Sarah McLachlan, Loverboy, and Bryan Adams when no one else would and had an ear for the rising stars who would eventually shine the brightest. In addition, he was known for helping to make legitimate local rock stars out of local bands like Art Bergmann, the Scramblers and Sons of Freedom, as reported by Straight.com.
“Breaks my heart that the great Vancouver journalist Tom Harrison has died,” says CelebrityAccess senior writer Larry LeBlanc. “He was the best. Practically everything I know about Vancouver’s music world, I know from Tom. From the Collectors to Chilliwack, The Headpins to Bryan Adams, D.O.A., Payolas, Art Bergmann, and more. He was the Dean of Canadian journalism.”
Harrison retired from The Province after 37 years in 2016, but his love for music continued. He released an e-book in 2015 titled Tom Harrison’s History of Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll, continued playing and writing, and was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2009.
Tributes have been pouring in upon news of his death. You can read some of those below. RIP.
Condolences to the family of rock journalist and musician Tom Harrison. Tom was from Vancouver and was one of the very first critics and supporters of my work at @theprovince back when I was starting. RIP #tomharrison
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) December 29, 2022
Heartbroken to learn that my dear friend Tom Harrison, longtime #Vancouver music writer, has passed away. We were colleagues and friends for almost 40 years, and I learned so much about writing from him. Will post links to an obit when it runs. https://t.co/W9LDrUZx7w
— writingonmusic (@writingonmusic) December 29, 2022
Condolences to the family & friends of beloved music writer #TomHarrison ❤️ Tom was an early & generous supporter of my music in @theprovince . For a young indie musician starting out his support was often all the encouragement I needed to keep going. RIPhttps://t.co/IIawAKcSn6
— Kele Fleming 🎶 (@tinforest) December 29, 2022