by carl wilson

David Pritchard, R.I.P. (Radio in Perpetua)


An elegy, a history, worth noting by anyone who cares about musical culture in Toronto and beyond, received from Scott "M2" McGregor Moore of dreamSTATE/The Ambient Ping this afternoon. My condolences to David Pritchard's friends and family. The memorial Ambient Ping show that Scott refers to is tonight at Hacienda (formerly Tequila Lounge), 794 Bathurst St., 9 pm, pwyc.

Scott M2: "David Pritchard passed away last weekend after a long fight with cancer. I know that many of you on the PiNG list may only know David as a performer [...] but also I know that some of you had your musical worlds opened wide by David when he was the ultimate all-night radio DJ on CHUM-FM (Toronto) in the late 60s and and early 70s - in the day when there was no format except what the DJ created. Frank Zappa described his show as an 'utter freak out.'

"David left CHUM, after the evolving rules began to constrict him, to become program director for CFNY (in the beginning years), guiding it as a cutting edge station. He was a man of principles who never compromised and also left CFNY when enforced changes appeared, refusing to, as he put it, turn the station into a conduit for 'shallow hit-oriented Pabulum - a carbon copy of CHUM-FM or Q-107.'

"I thought I'd celebrate some aspects of David's art and life in general and hope you'll take a few moments to read on. [...]

"Best known as a radio DJ, David had a well respected 'voice.' Those who knew him off the air could enjoy the change from his deep, modulated tone into a faster higher-pitched glee as he talked about favourite stories from his many encounters with artists and musicians and about art, music, food and drink - his passions. Here's some other snapshots from a rich life...

"David related his background as a painter and collage artist to his ability to artfully create an eclectic music mix. He continued to paint and show his work throughout his life. Last March his Enigma Series of mixed media paintings was presented at the Juten Gallery in Toronto's Beaches area.

"For over 30 years David's studio, Sonic Workshop produced cutting edge audio projects and has won numerous awards and citations including the prestigious Gabriel prize for excellence in radio documentaries. David also won additional acclaim for his innovative radio commercials. Many still fondly remember his Under the Neon Palms bits for the El Mocombo back in its day.

"David and Alan Lysaght created two truly massive radio documentaries covering the complete histories of The Beatles (30 hours long and the most widely syndicated radio series in history) and Rolling Stones which included every recorded song from the artists with related commentaries from the groups and key players in their stories. A book, The Beatles: An Oral History, was later published. David became know world-wide as an authority on The Beatles.

"DJ Deadly Hedley Jones stated: 'In 1977 David Pritchard from CHUM went to Jamaica and discovered reggae... He came back and asked me if I wanted to do a show with him, so we did the first and only reggae show ever on CHUM.'

"Here's the description of David's first album release, titled Nocturnal Earthworm Stew, from the STAALPLAAT catalog: 'An incredible pioneering electronic album recorded in the early 1970's, from the first Canadian artist signed to Island Records. Serious headphone music made under the influence of Stockhausen, John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Stravinsky, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Charles Ives and others - and with a sound that's often compared to that of early Eno and the first two Kraftwerk albums.'

"I first met David when I travelled from Ottawa and bought my second synthesizer from him - a lovely EMS Synthi AKS. We kept in touch and after I moved to Toronto in the 80's I began to work closely with him on his second album Unexplored Ether. This was a very mind-expanding part of my artistic growth as I learned beside him the delicate craft of complex tape editing and the application of radio production techniques to new music creation. The essence of these techniques have been the foundation of my productions as they grew into the digital age and computer editing.

"You can be sure that when I introduce field recordings into our mix at the dreamSTATE show tonight at the PiNG, that David will be on my mind and in my heart. David and his wife Libby attended our first CD release event some years back and I like to think his spirit may take a moment to drop by tonight for our second release. His influence is within it.

"It was my great pleasure and honour to play with David (and Byron Wong, another artist who states he learned everything about the art of radio production working with David) in 2003 and 2004 at THE AMBiENT PiNG in what I believe were his first live performances. We attempted to schedule the dates around his chemo treatments but last year David told me, 'You know,
people always assumed I was on drugs, but tonight is the first time I've ever really performed on drugs!' We improvised with synthesizers and radio airwaves to create soundscapes for the Deep Wireless series. Clicking on the following links will play a HiFi (128) or LoFi (64) mp3 excerpt from our first performance.

"David's son Christian states that he went peacefully with his family in attendance and emphasized that this should be a time of celebration of his life rather than a mourning.

"In that spirit, Jamie (who spent spent formative years with a radio under the covers listening to David's show) and I will be dedicating our dreamSTATE show tonight to David's spirit and inspiration. We'll be playing Noctural Earthworm Stew before the first set and I've burned a special version of the never-released album Unexplored Ether to play between sets. Hope you can join us and raise a glass in his honour!"

Read More | Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, March 02 at 6:23 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)



One thing I haven't seen mentioned about David is the time he dedicated to students at Humber College. 20 years ago he made a tremendous difference at Humber and helped many fledgling broadcasters learn about Promotions, Music, and much more... definately a unique and caring soul.
Craig M
Grad Humber '83

Posted by Craig Mills on March 21, 2005 12:48 AM



Paul Panchezak, drummer for King Biscuit Boy, the latter day Crowbar, and Edgar Breau just posted this homage to the man on e-Mole.

Posted by Bruce Mowat on March 4, 2005 2:45 PM



David Pritchard was everything that could be RIGHT about the radio, and his passing is another little milestone in the collapse of what was once a wonderful medium. I wonder if the gaggle of broadcasters at Canadian Music Week - babbling about ratings and radio contests and how to make morning zoo programms better (er, how about shutting the fuck UP?) - will spare a thought for the now passed "Spirit of Radio"?

Posted by Richard Flohil on March 4, 2005 8:36 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson