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Vancouver music community mourns Tom Harrison

Vancouver music community mourns Tom Harrison

Vancouver music critic Tom Harrison spent a lifetime covering some of the world’s biggest rock stars at sold-out stadiums, but it was the hometown acts trying to make a name for themselves in venues like The Town Pump and The Commodore Ballroom that truly fueled his passion for music.

“As it turns out, I think I came along at the right time,” Harrison said in the 2010 punk documentary “Bloodied but Unbowed.”

Harrison died suddenly on Christmas Day at age 70 – but not before leaving an indelible mark on Vancouver’s music industry.

“He made sure that up and coming local acts, and even more established ones, got their mention in the paper,” said friend Jim Davidson, who worked with Harrison at The Province newspaper.

Harrison covered music for the publication for 37 years, and over that time some of the young musicians he wrote about would go on to become international superstars.

Those acts include Loverboy, Sarah McLachlan and Bryan Adams.

“Tom was from Vancouver and was one of the very first critics and supporters of my work at @theprovince back when I was starting out,” Adams wrote on Twitter.

Along the way, Harrison became close to some of the musicians he covered, including Trooper singer Ra McGuire, who also left a tribute on Twitter.

“RIP Tom. Gonna Miss you,” he wrote.

Fittingly, Rob Frith, owner of Neptune Records, first met Harrison by chance as the pair flipped through crates at a different record shop in the 1970’s.

“When I eventually opened a store, he would come in and we’d always talk music,” said Frith. “And eventually we became friends where we would go to lunch and dinner and go to shows together.”

He fondly recalls that one of those shows at BC Place featured an epic lineup that included Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan – but says he will always remember his dear friend as a champion of local musicians.

“He had a big heart and he really did help the music scene in Vancouver a lot,” Frith said.

In 2009, in honor of his lifetime of dedication to the music business, Harrison was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

“The music scene was starting to grow and starting to change,” he said in 2010 about his storied career. “And lo and behold, I was right there with it and so as it grew, I grew.”