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"LIF" 2005 Obituary


LIFESON o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-06-04 published
Domenic TROIANO, Musician: 1946-2005
He was a musician's musician who mesmerized both practitioners and audiences, writes Sandra MARTIN. A self-taught guitarist yet a perfectionist, he was a master of his own style
By Sandra MARTIN, Saturday, June 4, 2005, Page S7
Guitarist, composer, producer, Domenic TROIANO was a musician's musician. Although he played mostly in Toronto, he was widely celebrated by fans and other musicians for his skillful guitar work and a finely honed style that morphed from rock to soul to jazz-fusion. "He lived to make music. It was his life," said Larry LEBLANC, Canadian bureau chief of Billboard magazine. As another great guitarist Randy Bachman said this week: "I'm sure the heavenly jam sessions with Lenny BREAU and Jimi Hendrix are taken to a new level, now that Dom has arrived."
Domenic TROIANO was born in Italy just after the end of the Second World War and immigrated to Canada with his parents when he was 3. They settled in Toronto where his younger brother Frank and sister Gina were born. While he was still a student at East York Collegiate Institute, he taught himself to play the guitar by studying chord books, aping the sound of such rock 'n' roll icons as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and by watching other guitarists play. He loved rhythm and blues and used to slide into the kid's side of the Concord Tavern on Bloor Street West on Saturday afternoons to sip soft drinks and listen to Ronnie HAWKINS and visiting rockers.
By the time he was 16 he was playing in a band, Robbie Lane and the Disciples. The first song he ever wrote, The One For Me, became the B-side on the group's first single. He got his first real break two years later when Ronnie HAWKINS hired him to replace Robbie Robertson who had decamped to play with Bob Dylan. "He was raised right. His parents had that old-school morality, do everything right," said Mr. HAWKINS. "He was a quiet type. I don't think he has ever made an enemy in the world."
Asked what appealed to him about Mr. TROIANO's playing, Mr. HAWKINS said: "He was so into that guitar and music. Nothing else mattered. That came first. And guys who are like that become the great musicians."
Mr. TROIANO stayed with Mr. HAWKINS for less than a year before leaving to develop his own sound and to form a series of evolving groups including the Rogues, The Mandala (1965-69) and Bush (1970-71). He replaced Joe Walsh as the lead guitarist when he played with The James Gang from 1972-73. He toured a lot in the United States with his bands in the 1960s and '70s and released the classic hits Opportunity in 1967 and Love-itis in 1968.
Musician Randy Bachman, formerly of the Bachman Turner Overdrive, remembers Mr. TROIANO from the 1960s. "Being from Winnipeg and having the influence of [guitarist] Lenny BREAU at the beginning of my guitar career, I was interested to hear that when Lenny moved to Toronto, his influence took root there too," Mr. Bachman said in an email message this week.
"I heard about this cool guitar player who played a Tele and gigged in an R&B band called The Mandala. I got their album and Dom's guitar work was a cool mixture of funk/R&B and Lenny BREAU stuff, all in one. I saw them play several times and was mesmerized by both the band and Domenic. Then later I saw him in Bush with the same reaction. He was totally cool and really laid down some stuff."
Years later, when Mr. Bachman made his Axe album, he invited Mr. TROIANO to play on it and he "graciously" did. "We spent a few days in Chicago jamming together," Mr. Bachman said. "He was a great person with a beautiful spirit and was a true master of his own guitar style. I later loved and envied his television sound-track work. He was a great artist and will be sadly missed by many."
After Mr. Bachman left The Guess Who, Mr. TROIANO joined the group as lead guitarist in 1974. By then, the band had scored big with hits such as These Eyes and American Woman. At the time, they were coasting on their popularity and indulging themselves both on stage and off. "He brought a discipline to the group that had been missing," said Mr. LEBLANC of Billboard magazine. "He helped them clean up their image and refine their sound."
He formed The Domenic Troiano band in 1976. It lasted for three years. Later, he said that he "started to get tired of the band thing." Although Mr. TROIANO was revered by other musicians, he was also feared because he demanded such a high performance level. "He could be hard-nosed if musicians were making mistakes or there was an equipment problem," admitted Mr. LEBLANC. Still, Mr. TROIANO "embraced" and mentored musicians who satisfied his standards, no matter how young or unknown they were.
One of them was a 13-year-old kid named Alex ZIVOJINOVIC (later Alex LIFESON of Rush) who approached him at a Canada Day concert in North York in 1967. The Mandala were playing and Alex was a huge fan. "He was so innovative. His tonality was unheard of at the time." Alex went over after and asked for an autograph. "I told him I was a guitar player and I had dreams of doing what he was doing and he was very sweet and kind to me and gave me great encouragement to keep it up and keep playing," Mr. LIFESON said in a telephone interview. "I never forgot that."
Mr. TROIANO also made a number of solo albums, including The Joke's On Me and Fret Fever, played for other musicians such as Diana Ross and Joe Cocker and produced albums for singers, including his one-time wife Shawne JACKSON. He also worked as a session musician and composer of sound tracks for films and television programs such as Night Heat, Diamonds and Hot Shots. Working in television allowed him to use technology and be much more experimental with the sound he was producing.
When he first signed on to do the music for Night Heat, he thought, "this isn't the kind of thing I do," he told an interviewer, but looking back he realized that it was "the perfect job" for him. That's because he loved working in the studio. For him, composing mood music was like "finger-painting, which is something I used to love doing at school."
By the time Mr. LIFESON met up with Mr. TROIANO again at an awards show in the 1990s, he was himself a famous musician with his band Rush. The two men laughed and reminisced after Mr. LIFESON told Mr. TROIANO of their first encounter. "He's always been a fabulous guitarist, a really good songwriter and a great arranger," said Mr. LIFESON. " He's a fabulous musician -- very, very well balanced. But he's also a bright, intelligent man with a great sense of humour. Many people loved him."
About a decade ago Mr. TROIANO was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was in reasonable health until late last year, thanks to a holistic and homeopathic regimen, according to Mr. LIFESON, who visited him in hospital earlier this year. A tribute is being planned at the national jazz awards in Toronto next month.
Domenic TROIANO was born in Modugno, Italy, on January 17, 1946. He died of prostate cancer on May 25, 2005, in Toronto. He was 59. He is survived by his former wife Shawne Jackson, his mother, a brother and a sister.

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LIFSCHITZ o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-10-17 published
Peacefully, on Monday, October 10, 2005 at the Bayview Extendicare Nursing Home. Dora Rosenberg beloved wife of the late David ROSENBERG for 50 years. Loving mother and mother-in-law of Paula and Stephen REID and the late Judith MONTROSE. Dear sister of the late Reuben. Devoted grandmother of Aimee. A graveside service will be held in the Community Section of Pardes Shalom Cemetery on Monday, October 17, 2005 at 1: 00 p.m. Dora was loved and will be sadly missed.

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