Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, was a lot of things to people living in the 1960s and 1970s. Apart from being thrice awarded the world championship in boxing as a heavyweight (1964, 1974, and 1978), he would be a draft dodger and peace activist, a devotee of Islam, and pop culture icon. Like most elite athletes, he never drank or smoked. It is likely that being a devotee of Islam also helped.
In the early 1980s, Manitoba-born Loreena McKennitt was busking in Toronto in order to finance her first album, Elemental. It led to a career in performing Celtic music that would sell 14 million records worldwide over the course of her career. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004. That was a few years after my favourite album of hers, The Book of Secrets, was released.
By the time she received the Order of Canada in 1998, Celine Dion was considered by most music critics and industry insiders as being one of the most influential voices of music of that decade, ranking with Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Influential in the sense that her voice helped to shape how power pop ballads were sung, as well as influencing the “adult contemporary” genre of that time.
Howard Hughes (1905-1976) — Was a multi-talented business tycoon, one of the world’s richest men in his day. He was an aviator, an aircraft engineer, inventor, and filmmaker. It would take a long time to go through his accomplishments, but the founding of Trans-World Airlines (TWA) has to count for something. He made some successful films, such as the original Scarface. He purchased the iconic Radio Keith-Orpheum Pictures company (known as RKO Pictures) from RCA, pretty much owning it outright as of 1948. Prior to that, RKO had been a Hollywood jewel, having made movies like the original King Kong, Citizen Kane, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. RKO was also the distributor for movies and cartoons from Walt Disney Studios. Under Hughes, which was a time of McCarthyism, there was much micro-management which led to the selloff of RKO in by Hughes ten years later. He was more successful as a real estate magnate, where he would purchase large amounts of property in Las Vegas, even places which were run by organized crime, and was instrumental in cleaning up the crime in that city. As an aviator, he did a round the world flight in 91 hours, which back in 1938 was a world record. He was inducted into the National Aviators Hall of Fame in 1973.
Alcohol rarely comes up in the bios I’ve read, but when it does, it is said that he never took to alcohol. Injuries from numerous airplane crashes earlier in his life took a toll, and he started to acquire an addiction to codeine, which he injected into himself. He also became a recluse, imprisoned also by a worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder, dying of complications from malnutrition in 1976.
Marc Garneau — Kids all want to be astronauts. Or firefighters. Or race car drivers. Most kids stand a better chance at being one of the latter two. Engineer Marc Garneau got the first one: he went on three NASA Space Shuttle flights. And in going full circle with this, he is now, after a stint as chancellor at the University of Ottawa, the Liberal Minister of Transport, and MP of NDG-Westmount, on the Montreal island. He received the Order of Canada membership in 1984, just after his first flight.
Louise Arbour — Another Montraler who served as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations at The Hague. In 1999, she was later appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien. She has a long list of honorary degrees and awards from all over Canada.
Living proof that you can go on a trip, not leave the room, and not do drugs.
Rumor has it that Prince, otherwise known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, is teetotal, although maybe it is hard to believe. All Google searches for Prince in association with drugs led to Saudi sheikhs, cocaine and beheadings (not kidding), so I can only believe what the rumors say. Actually, it is a little above rumor, since many sources say that his father, John Nelson, was also teetotal, and he looked up to him, growing up. It is likely that he had never drank, and is vegan besides. For Prince to be this creative for so long (complete with his current project, called Third Eye Girl), it would not be believeable to hear he was doing drugs for the past three pet health insurance buy now tramadol decades.
The perks of knighthood, Elton’s own coat of arms.
Elton John’s biggest demon was never really booze, most of his demons seem internal. He was given to depressive episodes where others would find him hard to cope with, but later he would come to his senses and make it up to his colleagues, often producers, engineers and fellow studio musicians. About 40 years ago, he suffered a drug overdose and later suffered from bulimia. He also had to battle feelings of suicide on many occasions. In 2015 he celebrated his 25th year of sobriety and freedom from drugs. At age 68, 20 years after being inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, he has been awarded most of his Grammy Awards and Tony Awards only since the 1990s, long after he reached rock superstardom in the mid-1970s.
For the most consecutive gold and platinum albums by a rock band, first place is The Beatles, second is The Rolling Stones, and third place is the Canadian group Rush (24 gold, 14 platinum). The members of Rush have worked hard to reproduce their album sound in their concerts, so Rush concerts have been known for having lots of instruments about each musician. They have also made use of digital sampling to fill out their sound.
All three members of the rock band Rush received membership in the OOC in 1996.
Lost: A middle-aged male drummer named Neil Peart. Swallowed alive by his elaborate drum kit, he was never found again.
Neil Peart – Each member has over the years had made the most of their membership by making themselves into multi-instrumentalists. Apart from drums, Peart has in the past included tubular bells, a glockenspiel, and other obscure percussion instruments, both electronic and not. Peart has been voted the greatest performing drummer by fan-zines like Drummerworld, and many fans attend live Rush concerts to hear Neil Peart do a drum solo. He certainly ranks up there with the likes of Ginger Baker and John Bonham. Peart is also the primary lyricist of the trio.
Alex Lifeson – Alex is the sole remaining founding member of Rush, and possesses the ability to play several kinds of guitars, and on occasion some keyboards. According to Rolling Stone magazine, he ranks among the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, just below Eddie Van Halen and Queen’s Brian May. As for vocals, I could find no indication of him doing more than backing vocals for the band.
Geddy Lee – Bassist and the voice responsible for the band’s signature high-register vocal. He actually possesses three octaves, ranging from baritone, to tenor, and then to alto, reaching into mezzo-sporano. While his vocal styling may have received some criticism, his instrumentation rarely has. Besides bass, he also plays keyboards including synthesizers. He once did a cameo with Bob and Doug MacKenzie on their album Great White North, and the song Take Off was the largest-selling single of Geddy Lee’s career. While Geddy Lee cannot strictly be called a founding member, he joined when the band was 1 month old, and happens to be a high school chum of Lifeson.
Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was the only famous scientist I could find that was teetotal by repuation. Einstein was a moderate drinker, and a heavier smoker. Feynman reportedly used to be a moderate drinker also, no reason why not, but on a trip in Brazil he felt a compulsion to drink alcohol in the middle of the afternoon where there was no social reason to drink. He thought about it, and reportedly never drank again for any reason.
If there was a Nobel Prize for music, Eric Clapton would deserve it. At age 25 he was already hailed as the world’s greatest living blues guitarist. He was inducted three times into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a member of The Yardbirds, once as a member of Cream, and once as a soloist. He had a weakness for alcohol and was a long-time alcoholic, but has been a non-drinker since at least 1988.
While Connie Kaldor won Juno awards on three occasions (1989, 2004, and 2005) for her work on Children’s albums, she is better known for her amazing talent in folk music and live performances. She has made 14 albums to date, not including her children’s albums. She became a member of the Order of Canada in 2006.
Mary Walsh is the uproariously funny comedienne from St. John’s who was trained in theatre in Toronto. She was itching to do the real how to buy tramadol thing, though. She joined CODCO, which became a TV series alongside Andy and Cathy Jones, Tommy Sexton, and Greg Malone. This spurred a series on CBC Television from 1987 to 1992. She was most recently known for her stunt where she did a This-Hour-Has-Seven-Days-style ambush of former mayor Rob Ford in late 2011. Walsh became a member of The Order of Canada in 2001.
I was driving to Oakville, and stopping at Tim Horton’s, and this bicycle store sale sign caught my attention. I have heard of “door crashing sales” before, but the Mississauga branch of Cyclepath were not just shooting the bull, they meant it. Due to what appears to be a serious accident, the entire front window to the right of the door was taken out, and parts of the panes separating the windows had to be cut out. And it being winter, they needed to board it up. I would say it was an actual crash, rather than a brazen attempt at attention grabbing, but when I was inside browsing I didn’t ask anyone. In the fact that they saw humor in this to spray paint that message on there, I would guess that no one was hurt. It is unclear when this sale will end, but I guess that it will be over by the time the display window is fixed.
Henry David Thoreau – Author of Walden and Civil Disobedience, among scores of other books, this 19th-century Harvard-educated American philosopher and writer stands at the top rank of American Literature and philosophy. His connection with nature and desire for a balanced life led him to write “I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor.” While it is not clear if he had not been a drinker all of his life, it seems as if he had been a non-drinker for most of it.
Franz Kafka – Early 20th-century German philosopher, the long-reigning king of ennui. I found a quote about his feelings toward alcohol, said only in the way that Kafka can say it: “My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication – it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness – it is all that I have – and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well.”
Scott Miller (right) standing next to his biggest musical influence, Big Star’s Alex Chilton (1950-2010) (left).
The band Game Theory existed in the 1980s, and had a good run as artistic output goes. But during their day, they were beset by various runs of bad luck: the folding of their record label, Enigma, and the lack of publicity they had during and after they folded. The group disbanded around 1989, and group leader, songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist Scott Miller (1960-2013) formed the group The Loud Family, which lasted for several more albums until 2006.
But I wish to focus on the latest posthumous offering by Omnivore Records, a reissuing a couple of weeks ago, of the high water mark of the creative powers of Scott Miller and Game Theory, and that was the double LP, Lolita Nation. Omnivore released it on a single CD, and in addition provided another CD of “bonus tracks”. And a booklet of quotes from producers and band members that had a hand in creating the album. Former live-in girlfriend Donnette Thayer talked about her experiences as guitarist and vocalist. Even Shelley LaFreniere was brought out of obscurity to write a few blurbs about her memory of her experiences in helping out as their keyboardist and background vocalist. However, most of the writing seemed to come from producer Mitch Easter, drummer Gil Ray, tour manager Dan Vallor, who also helped out with backup vocals. They would be the people you would want to hear the most from anyway.
Lolita Nation, Front cover
Lolita Nation, Back cover (original issue from Enigma Records).
Of course, I found the need to listen to the CD of bonus tracks more than the actual album which I played to death in the 80s and 90s. To play to the fan base, they have the long version of Chardonnay as their first track, which was never on the original album. after that, a few tracks were, to my ears, better left on the cutting room floor. But that’s not what bonus tracks are for. Even bonus tracks for Beatles reissues have a lot of crap on them. But like any cult fan, you are there for the gems. And they deliver on that. There is an interesting cover of The Hollies’ Carrie-Anne, which I have never heard them sing before. They also cover Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. The highlight was the acoustic solo of Game Theory’s own Together Now, Very Minor without the deep space echo of Scott’s voice that was in the Lolita album.
Altogether, I found the album quite enjoyable, and the Bonus CD did not disappoint.
Dan Akroyd was a comedic actor who got his start in Saturday Night Live, then he and John Belushi formed The Blues Brothers which went from a blues/comedy act to a full-length film. Among the films he starred in, were Ghostbusters, Trading Places, Ghostbusters II, and the satire Dragnet. He was made a member of the Order of Canada on 7 November, 2000.
Eugene Levy is the one on the lef- uh, ri- uhh… Aw, crap.
Eugene Levy worked for years on the comedy show Second City, both live in Toronto and on the 80s hit TV series, SCTV. He has won numeous honours for his comedic creations, and by the time he was awarded the OOC in 2011, he already won many awards and honors. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in November of 2011.
Jim Carrey – Probably one of the funniest comedians alive, the star of the Ace Ventura sequels, The Mask, and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has had a few ups and downs in his private life, including battling depression, he has sworn off all meds, booze, and even coffee, and has been that way since at least 2013.
Henry Rollins – This former lead member of the post punk group Black Flag and later becoming a maker of several spoken word records, appearing in lots of films, found drugs and alcohol to be “a bummer”, and tended to be too much of a bore, and so he has never felt the need to drink. He says he gets his highs from listening to music and performing.
Lloyd Robertson (OOC 1998) — He was six years an anchor for CBC news in the early to mid-seventies. He later moved to CTV, and had been anchor there until 2011 when he retired. He has been news anchor longer than Walter Cronkite, and is in fact the record holder for the longest-serving anchorman in television history.
Peter Mansbridge (OOC 2008) — A youngster by Lloyd Roberson standards, Peter Mansbridge has been news anchor at CBC since 1988, and is still working at CBC. It will be another six years until he beats Robertson’s record. He does hold the record for the longest serving anchor still active.
There are many Christian denominations whose devotees practice abstinence: Mormons, Amish, Methodists, Quakers, 7th-day Adventists, Mennonites, Salvation Army members, and there are probably more that I can’t think of. But not all preach abstinence, including Roman Catholics. Jesus himself turned water into over a hundred gallons of wine (John 2:1-11), seemingly to encourage its use at a wedding.
St. John The Baptist was big on fasting, and abstaining from wine. In fact, the angel Gabriel prophesied that he was to never drink alcohol his whole life. He seemed to have spent much of his adult life in wilderness, subsisting on a diet of locusts and honey. I would suppose he was a bit of a wild-man.
Yeah, not sure how this one works, either.
Reverend Jerry Falwell (1933-2007), as you might female viagra pill buy online remember, was a fundamentalist preacher who led an organization called the Moral Majority in the States during the Regan era. A bit of a prankster, had a life with more than enough strange twists and turns. The fact that he was teetotal was influenced by his alcoholic father dying of liver disease. Strangely he was friends with Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. Flynt published a rather racy parody about Falwell, to which Falwell objected and sued him all the way to the Supreme Court. The court rejected the lawsuit, and upheld Flynt’s free speech rights. While Falwell and Flynt didn’t agree on anything relating to the lawsuit, they nevertheless became friends. Larry was lending him his jet in case Jerry’s broke down; they traded photos of their grandchildren; diet tips, … You never know how things turn out, do you?
There are actually quite a number of Order of Canada recipients that are musicians. More musicians will appear in later installments.
Saskatoon native Joni Mitchell graced our radios in the decades since the sixties with her folk/pop singing that had been the influence of a great many musicians worldwide. Some of her album covers were self-drawn, and one was a self-portrait. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.
Going back a generation in music history, Ottawa-born Paul Anka is only two years older than Joni, but had his first hit song at age 15 when Diana went to the top of the Billboard charts in 1957, and was a hit on both sides of the Canada-US border. He continued to produce hit singles well into the 1980s. Greatest hits compilations have been showing up as recently as 2013
About as alcoholic as it gets with Trump these days …
There was never any indication that Donald Trump over-indulged in alcohol, but any indulging he ever did came to a halt in 1981 when his brother died of complications from alcholism. From then on, the billionaire politician eventually put an end to all bad habits: no alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs. In all the brouhaha he creates in politics these days, it is easy to forget that when he says all those outrageous things, he does it sober, and in his best sense of mental acuity. Scary.
Most people don’t, but they like the T-shirt anyway.
Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara (1928-1967) is a tad to the political left of Trump, I would suppose, but they have a lot in common. Both Che and Trump are loved or reviled, depending on who you talk to. Both were political outsiders that want to upset the political establishment apple cart for the sake of their own passionately-held beliefs. Che’s likeness, similar to the image you see to the right, was once used to sell strong drink (30% alcohol) that many people find hard to classify. Not a great homage to someone who not only was a non-drinker, but even tried to get alcohol banned in Cuba. The estate of the photographer of the image, one Korda Gutierrez, sued Smirnoff, the maker of the beverage, in 2000, for breach of copyright in using the photo on their bottles.
David Suzuki, geneticist, outspoken environmentalist, university professor, Long-time host of CBC’s The Nature of Things, writer of many biology books and textbooks, was appointed as Officer of the Order of Canada back in 1977, and became a Companion of the OOC in 2005. He now runs The David Suzuki Foundation, a charitable organization which is involved in environmentalist causes. In a CBC poll in answer to the question “Who is the greatest Canadian of all time”, he ranked #5, but that being said, he had the highest ranking of those great Candians still alive.
Clayton Ruby is a Toronto lawyer whose list of high-profile clients range from Vancouver-based Adbusters Foundation to Human Rights Watch to The Church of Scientology. He represented Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abdurahman Khadr, Mayor Rob Ford, MP Svend Robinson, and cleared the name of Guy Paul Morin. Ruby was made an OOC member in 2005.
Think your commute was bad? The worst I have heard of is one consisting of a 50-lane (that’s f-i-f-t-y lanes) highway, called the G4, which joins up Beijing, Macau and Hong Kong. It has been referred to as “the Great Crawl of China”, and “a waiting area for toll booths”. There exists a checkpoint plaza along the way that narrows the 50-lane highway to 20 lanes, and this can typically tie up traffic for days. In 2010, motorists were stranded for 12 days trying to get to their destination. Pictures from here. There was another major tie-up back in October 2015 linked to a Chinese holiday, depicted below by a drone.
Vehicles are seen stuck in a traffic jam near a toll station as people return home at the end of a week-long national day holiday, in Beijing, China, October 6, 2015. Picture taken October 6, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily
Another picture taken of the now world-famous commute, with the toll plaza visible in the background. Photo taken on the same day, credited to REUTERS/China Daily.
Al Pacino, actor in Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, and all of The Godfather parts, had faced alcoholism once, but swore it off due to a healthy support network of people around him. In the Godfather, Pacino’s character Michael Corleone famously said something like “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”. That might work in the movies, but the way to mental health is to stay away from sources of negativity, such as “enemies”, and stick with your friends. He has been sober since 1977.
Recently deceased David Bowie (1947-2016) has been much written about in recent weeks, such that it is hard to add anything new. He indeed challenged many things in our culture: ranging from music to fashion to sexuality. Another former alcoholic who quit more than 20 years ago, attributed his staying sober to positive relationships later in life.