Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – F is for Facebook, Friends & Farewells

CamSad. I posted one word on my Facebook status earlier this week. I had just heard that a dear friend had passed away after a long and very courageous battle, and that was what I was feeling. Outside of band updates and the occasional link to an event I rarely post anything either personal or political on my Facebook status. I rarely check in at concerts and you will never see a kitty, puppy or what I am eating, or drinking, posted on my wall. My kids are adults so there are no cute pictures of them on their first day of school or wearing their best Halloween costumes. Not my style.

When I posted that update those in the know of the situation commented, but what I found more interesting, and comforting, was my phone lighting up with text messages and calls, and my Facebook inbox filling up with messages asking if I was ok. Friends were not being nosey but generally concerned. I did not feel it was my place to change my status explaining who had left us but I did appreciate each note and answered all who inquired. I was not fishing for comments (as many do) and merely posting a genuine emotion.

csm_hrc_toronto_In the mid-nineties I returned to the record business after a one year stint as the Director of Marketing for the Hard Rock Café family in Canada. I left my A&R position at MCA in a bit of a mid-life crisis and wondered if I was capable of doing anything outside of working for a record label. The Hard Rock’s in Canada were owned by my friend Nick Bitove and I thought it was worth a shot trying something new. We had some success and opened new locations in Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, larry-mccreaBanff and Whistler and I generally enjoyed what I was doing but deep in my heart I knew I was not in my element. When Larry Macrae called and asked if I wanted to go for a beer I thought something might be up. He offered me the position of Director Of Artist & Media Relations at BMG Canada. I was back. With Larry as my boss (once again) and industry pals Ken Bain, Jim Campbell and Tim Williams in the house I knew it would be a comfortable fit. The President at the time was Paul Alofs who had stepped into the impossibly hard to fill shoes of Bob Jamieson who had moved down to New York to run RCA Records. Paul was not a classic “record guy” but he brought a fresh new approach to the business much like he has at Princess Margaret Hospital over the course of the last decade.

On my first day of work I was asked out by two of the marketing managers at the label Rebecca Black and Nadine Gelineau. The label managers needed the full support of the PR department and these two needed to know if I was another “old boy” or someone who might help them with their artists. They took me to Oh Boy burgers at Peter and Richmond and picked me brain over lunch. Even though I was an old Shelleyboy at heart I was still a bit of a punk. I liked their style. The next day it was time for lunch with Shelley Snell who would be working in the department with me. I only knew Shelley from past industry functions and knew her sister Jill much better as we both had worked in the MCA Records family for years. Over the course of lunch Shelley explained how the department worked and laid out the rules for publicity with regards to new releases, local shows, promo visits and national tours. It seemed like an odd system to me but it was one that had worked in the past and the label had a lot of success when it came to working with their artists. She was a girl that was comfortable with a set system but things were about to change. I pulled out the artist roster and asked her to circle the artists that she absolutely loved. She circled most of the page. I told her that these would be the artists she would be working with regardless of what they were doing. She had such a passion that I wanted that energy flowing directly to those artists. Being a huge country music fan Shelley looked after most of that roster. She knew, and had amazing relationships with her contemporaries at the U.S. affiliates and could pull favours left and right. When an artist was on the road she had a relationship with the road managers and the back-up bands and the “stars” always noticed and appreciated that fact.  Always putting the artist first Shelley knew the true meaning of artist relations. From Dave Matthews to BR5-49 to Prairie Oyster each and every artist loved working with her. When Jill was the marketing manager and Shelley was the artist relations manager they were an unstoppable combination. “ Two Snell’s, no waiting “ I would always say.  After a couple of years an opportunity arose for Shelley to move over to the marketing department and I was not going to stand in her way and we continued to work together effectively, but in a different capacity. Now she would be hounding me for NSYNC publicity and luckily Dawn Dwyer had moved into publicity and I was once again part of a great team. Shelley left a few years later to work for Universal and every time I was in their offices I would pop into her office for a hug and a chat. Soon she was back at the new Sony with her old friends in the marketing department. For the last five years Shelley has had a medical battle and finally succumbed earlier this week. Her loving sister Jill, along with Alex, her nephew Evan, Dale and a host of others have been by her side constantly with love and support and she lived every moment possible over the last few years. The last time we were together was when we closed the Bob Jamieson reunion back in March. Over a glass of wine we caught up and it was just like old times.  Shelley was a big part of my life for many years and will be dearly missed.

Russell deCarle Shelley Snell Cameron Carpenter Wendi-Jane Hayden Larry Macrae

Russell DeCarle, Shelley Snell, Cameron Carpenter, Wendi-Jane Hayden, and Larry Macrae

A few years back Jill hosted a house concert for her sister`s birthday at which Prairie Oyster`s Russell de Carle performed. It was a magic night of family, friends and music and I hope that dear friend Kim Zayac won`t mind that I am posting this short clip with the sisters Snell.

Reggie 2Moments after posting my story last week I heard about the passing of Reggie Bovaird. For those of us who hung around the El Mocambo in the seventies and eighties Reggie was an institution. Whether doing crowd control in front of the club or checking the upstairs bathrooms El-Mocambofor pot smokers Reg was omnipresent. In the seventies the musical action all took place on the second floor “under the neon palms” and for most of the major shows the back wall facing the stage was roped off for the record companies and their guests. Much to the chagrin of the paying public these were most of the best seats in the house. Of course smoking was allowed in the club but pot was not tolerated. I remember one night when a patron was smoking a joint at his table and Reggie walked over, removed the joint from the gentlemen’s mouth and placed it in his full beer. No words were spoken and that was considered a Reggie warning. During the last decade or so I didn’t see ReggieReggie much but occasionally he would pop by The Horseshoe to say hello to old friends and talk about his poetry and maybe read us a line or two about “El Fish”. If there is a doorman Hall of Fame Reggie should be in on the first vote.

Here are some of the artists that Shelley and I had the honour to work with.

BR5 49 – Cherokee Boogie

Julian Austin – Little Ol’ Kisses

Crash Test Dummies – Keep A Lid On Things

The Verve Pipe – Freshmen

Mindy McCready – Guys Do It All The Time

Prairie Oyster – One Way Track

Nerf Herder – Van Halen

Kenny Chesney – She’s Got It All

Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want

The Monoxides – I’ve Got An Idea


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Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.


8 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – F is for Facebook, Friends & Farewells”

  1. Beautifully written, Cam.

  2. Nice, Cam. I wish I had known Shelley better than I did, but it didn’t take much time with her to realize how special she was.

  3. awesome article Cam… agr
    eed, sad is a good word, but also relieved… it was a long hard battle and she no longer has to do so..i think we will all miss her

  4. […] Just another site « Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – F is for Facebook, Friends & Farewell… […]

  5. Well done and thank you.

  6. […] reading what I consider Cam Carpenter‘s best column ever this past week (if you missed it, read it here), I could not help but look back over my years in the business.  The big difference between Cam […]

  7. beautifully written by cam. Its very interesting to read Melogia

  8. […] I first read Cam’s column as I was editing it yesterday, I was touched by two things; one, his affection for the people he […]

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