LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has been an outstanding contributor to the London and area music community over many years.  The not-for-profit Forest City London Music Awards Board of Directors grants this distinction to a worthy individual(s) on an annual basis to thank them for their service to the London and area music community and to inspire others to contribute to our music community in an impactful manner.  

Saul Holiff

Saul Holiff

2018

Saul Holiff (1925-2005) was a Canadian concert promoter, producer, and talent manager. Holiff was best known as personal manager to American singer-songwriter, Johnny Cash, and for pairing Cash with June Carter. Holiff was among the first to bring live Rock 'n' Roll to Canadian audiences, including Bill Haley and His Comets, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and, Jerry Lee Lewis. He also promoted country acts, including Marty Robbins, Kitty Wells, Jimmy Rodgers and, a young Johnny Cash (starting in 1958). In 1961, Cash asked Holiff to be his manager. Holiff was reluctant. Cash had not had a hit record in more than two years, and his music had fallen off the charts. And, though not yet aware of Cash’s drug problem, Holiff knew Cash to be unreliable. That first year, Holiff positioned Cash “away from a strictly country act.” He added June Carter to the lineup. Holiff also produced the shows at Carnegie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl and booked tours in Japan and Korea. Cash’s and Holiff’s relationship was as notable for its conflict as for its success. Holiff, the sober-minded businessman, and Cash, the wild outlaw singer, clashed often during the 1960s over Cash’s drug and legal problems. Holiff is credited with convincing Cash to work with producer Bob Johnstone (which led to “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison”); setting up the San Quentin show (which yielded Cash’s only Number 1 pop song); and, a single-minded focus on getting Cash his own television show (ABC’s “The Johnny Cash Show”). In December 1973, believing Cash’s career had peaked, and constantly at odds with his client, Holiff quit. In his autobiography, “CASH,” the singer said this about Holiff: “It was Saul who pushed me to take my show, and my career, to another level. I was perfectly happy where I was, doing what I loved to do and getting paid for it but, after I got to know Saul, I started liking his ideas. Instead of just ballrooms and dance halls, Saul said I should be aiming at Europe, the Orient, and big places in big cities. And that was just the beginning.” In the mid-1990s, Cash told friend and historian Mark Stielper, “I only ever had one manager who could manage me, and that was Saul.” Saul Holiff also managed June Carter; The Carter Family; Statler Brothers Quartet; Carl Perkins; Roger Miller; and, George Jones. Holiff also handled Canadian artists, including JRLMA Hall of Famer, Tommy Hunter. Despite being very involved in the music scenes in Nashville and Los Angeles, Holiff never permanently made the move to the US. He retired at 50 to British Columbia where he died in 2005 at age 79.

Nick Panaseiko

Nick Panaseiko

2018

As a promoter of music, Nick Panaseiko isn’t so much a promoter as a force of nature. When he was 17 years old, he brought The Supremes to the old London Arena, (technical difficulties had The Motown icons lip syncing to their hits—it’s a good story.) Still in his teens, the young Nick was managing a handful of local bands, getting them gigs in the vibrant music scene of 1960s London.
 The London music establishment didn’t take kindly to this young kid eating their lunch, so they filed a complaint with the musicians’ union, as he really wasn’t old enough to promote shows. 
Nick, being Nick, didn’t let that stop him. He booked street parties, shows that filled the streets and caused riots at various venues.
 When he turned 18, he landed a job at Decca Records in Canada. Since they wanted him to sell musical instruments and not music (yes, Decca once sold musical instruments), he left and returned to London.
 Back here he worked for a Windsor FM station looking to make inroads into London, then without a spot on the FM dial. In doing that, he brought KISS to London and other acts as well. His promotion skills were legendary. For KISS, he dressed up four teens in KISS gear and shepherded them around London in a black limo. The buzz was extraordinary.
 He went back to Toronto, first for Quality Records and then Warners.
 But, he did something very unusual, he continued to make London his home, returning every weekend to his family and to kibitz with his music colleagues.
 He also opened a club in London on Richmond St. called Thee Image and later a restaurant.
 Currently music journalist Bob Klanac is working on a book about and with Nick and the stories are amazing.
He was on hand during the chaotic late 1970s visit by the Rolling Stones to Toronto including the Keith Richards bust and El Mocambo gig. Nick also worked with countless Canadian bands, including Elaine Twain (later Shania.) Until the book comes out, hopefully this year (fingers crossed for a London Arts Council Grant,) we have Nick Panaseiko himself to tell the tales. And, he tells good tales.

James Reaney

James Reaney

2017

James Stewart Reaney covered everything from operas to Neil Young concerts in more than thirty years at The London Free Press. He retired on Jan. 26, 2017.  As a columnist and reporter, he profiled many London creative spirits and produced the first extensive "Top 10" listing devoted to London albums. In collaboration with LFP colleagues, he hosted weekly videos devoted to London performers & creators for eight years. James is a passionate supporter of the Jack Richardson London Music Awards as a board member & advocate for its Jack Richardson London Music Hall of Fame at 182 Dundas Street. He is also an active member of the London & Middlesex Historical Society & helmed its three editions of "The Great London Songbook" (events matching local performers with hits associated with the Forest City's glorious musical history). 

2016 – Greg Backwell

Greg Backwell

Greg Backwell

2016

Greg Backwell is an award-winning barbershop quartet tenor, coach, mentor, director, designer and arranger. Greg’s initial passion was sports. An award winner in multiple disciplines, he played semi-pro football and baseball in the USA, before returning home to become the physical education director at the YMCA. In 1950, Mr. Backwell was exposed to barbershop and a new passion was born. In 1959, after performing with a few groups, Greg became part of the Nighthawks, whom many consider the “best barbershop group ever.” In addition to singing tenor, Greg acted as coach and arranger. His arrangements were unique and helped the Nighthawks win 10 consecutive Ontario championships (one for each year they were together) and 4 major international medals. The quartet took Air Canada’s first ever international flight to perform for Prince Philip. When the Nighthawks disbanded in 1969, Greg continued to sing: he arranged 100’s of songs for other barbershop groups and coached the Sweet Adelines. Mr. Backwell is also an award winning freelance commercial artist. He has designed many of the logos used by Labatt’s brewery and created designs for barbershop competitions and awards. Greg Backwell was inducted into the International Barbershop Hall of Fame in 2012. Mr. Backwell continues to arrange and mentor, and creates art ’24 hours a day.’

Linda Wharton

Linda Wharton

2015

Linda retired from teaching at London Central Secondary School, leading a music department in which half the student body participated! She conducted senior concert band, wind ensemble and the jazz band. A founding member of the Thames Valley Honour Band and a board member of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association, she’s now a valued member of the JRLMA team leading our JRLMA Ken Palmer Bursary program.

Minerva Figueroa

Minerva Figueroa

2014

Minerva Figueroa is a well known name in the arts community. Her experience includes teaching, conducting, and coordinating a youth orchestra in Mexico City.  She was also part of the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Xalapa Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico serving as Artistic Liaison and Special Projects Coordinator. During her 10 years with professional orchestras she organized national and international tours, recordings and engagements with guest artists. Since moving back to London in 2008, she attended UWO, and is actively involved in the arts and not-for-profit sector.

Ken Fleet

Ken Fleet

2013

During his decade’s long career, award-winning choral conductor Ken Flee Ken directed London Pro Musica in recording acclaimed albums, and creating inspired collaborations. The mixed-voiced choir teamed with London world-beat ensemble the Antler River Project for 2008's Songs of the Land for a dozen songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, the McGarrigles and other Canadian folk legends.

The Fagans

The Fagans

2012

Conductor, Gerald Fagan and business manager / keyboardist Marlene Fagan (Wife) brought Fanshawe Chorus London, the Gerald Fagan Singers and the Concert Players Orchestra to great heights. In a combined career going back more than 50 years, the Fagans have been leaders in London who built three arts organizations here. The Fagans met in the 1950s while they were students at the forerunner to Western’s Don Wright music faculty. Gerald and Marlene Fagan led the Gerald Fagan Singers and Fanshawe Chorus London. The Fagans have also been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Charlotte Cleland

Charlotte Cleland

2011

For more than three decades Charlotte Cleland was the secretary for the Kiwanis Festival of London and its board secretary. She started in 1979 and continues to help guide the festival. Her commitment to the festival’s success has been total. Charlotte organizes hundreds of dates for adjudicated competition, mentors young festival entrants, champions all classes and abilities and much more. “I work very hard – but I love what I’m doing. That’s why I keep doing it,” Charlotte says. Charlotte has shown commitment to local music far above and beyond the norm. “I like to see them succeed in all their activities – not just music,” she says of the thousands of young people she has helped usher through the Kiwanis experience.

Graham Lear

Graham Lear

2010

Graham Lear is best known for his time with Gino Vannelli, Santana and REO Speedwagon. Graham went to Prince Charles Public School and Clarke Road High School in London. He began his professional career at the age of 13 with the London (Ontario) Symphony Orchestra. During his teenage years he practiced, played and toured with several bands in Canada and the United States. Gino Vannelli was the first major recording artist to recognize Graham’s talents and he recorded with Gino on some of his most important work. He has toured and/or recorded worldwide with Carlos Santana, Paul Anka, REO Speedwagon and Saga. He has also worked with T.V./ Film composers Henry Mancini, Domenic Troiano, Jimmy Dale, David Foster, and recorded jingles for Nike, Molson and Avia.

John Barron

John Barron

2009

The late John Barron was an inspiring music educator, consultant, clinician, arranger, author, and conductor. He received numerous awards for his contributions to choral music, including the Order of Canada, and, a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. John’s passion, musicality and generosity inspired and supported hundreds of young musicians. He loved hearing from former students and choir members and learning what paths their lives had taken. He especially treasured the close relationship that formed between Amabile and Canadian composer Stephen Hatfield.  Born in 1939, the Amabile Choirs co-founder died in 2014.

Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes

2008

Bob Hughes was one of the most well-known percussionists in Canada. As a professor emeritus of percussion at Western University, he performs all forms of music and is a recognized authority on African drumming. Bob has performed with many of Canada’s great orchestral and jazz musicians while mentoring enumerable percussionist and music educators.

JOHN NOUBARIAN

JOHN NOUBARIAN

2007

He has spent a lifetime in music and his musical forte is jazz. Considered one of Southwestern Ontario’s most respected jazz musicians, John has seen and played it all. Early in his musical career he was booked out of Cleveland and Chicago and toured much of the mid-west United States. During this time he had occasion to sit in with jazz notables such as Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, and Scot LaFaro. Following a few years of road gigs in the U.S., John resettled back in London, Ontario where he currently resides. He led house groups which alternated between two of the city’s most popular night spots; the Iroquois Hotel, and Campbells. Here his trio backed some top instrumentalists and vocalists among which were jazz greats like Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Wingy Manone, Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Jack Brokensha, and vocalists Ernestine Anderson, Jean Turner, Carmen McRae and others. In addition to nightly performances, John attended London Teachers College during the day. He taught with the London Catholic School Board and continued his academic studies at the University of Western Ontario. He graduated from the Faculty of Music in 1979 and retired from his teaching duties in 1993. In addition to theatre and playhouse concerts in London, Petrolia, Sarnia, Grand Bend, and Stratford, he has performed, also, at the Toronto DuMaurier Jazz Festival, the Beaches Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Waterloo Jazz Festival, and the Guelph Jazz Festival.

Ken Palmer

Ken Palmer

2006

Born in Montreal and raised in Port Stanley, Ken Palmer was part of London’s music scene for over 30 years Throughout the decades, he exemplified a generous spirit. Ken Palmer was a mandolin ace with the long-running bluegrass icons The Dixie Flyers and a former CBC Radio host. He gave music lessons, ran a record store and helped shape Fanshawe College’s radio station. In the 1970’s Ken was the talent coordinator for Smale’s Pace and Chance of Pace, two renowned folk venues in London. Ken was also a board member of the Home County Folk Festival at its start. In 1990, he began a 15-year stint as artistic director for the festival, a volunteer job. “You want to give back to the community …. Quite frankly, the more you help the music community, the more you help yourself,” sums up Palmer. After Ken passed away The Jack Richardson Music Awards committee established The Ken Palmer Bursary for graduating high school students in both the public and catholic boards who were pursuing musical education at a higher level.

MARK LOUIS de ROUX

MARK LOUIS de ROUX

2005

Mark Louis de Roux was born in Toronto on October 2, 1961 into a family that valued artistic and musical pursuits. His father was a musician, artist and art teacher and his mother sang regularly at various social functions and in church. At an early age Mark began playing the stand-up bass. After the family moved to Port Elgin Mark got his first electric bass and headed for London, drawn to the music scene. Mark played with some of the city's most seminal bands. Mark’s distinctive bass style cemented the foundation for N.F.G./63 Monroe, Crash 80’s and Ukase. Later he helped form the nationally renowned Sheep Look Up. In the early 1990’s Mark teamed with songsmith Mark Goodwin to form The Magic Binmen. His career took him to the world renowned Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec. There he built a home for himself and his dogs, Jello and Tetley. In June 2003, Mark learned he had a rare form of cancer and passed way on June 11, 2004. His ashes were scattered on Lake Huron not far from where he once danced on the beach to music only he heard.

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