Ray Condo died on April 15, 2004, just a month short of his 54th birthday on May 16 and almost 19 years to the day after we met. From our first meeting to his death, Ray was a mentor, friend and an inspiration to me. Over the years I've photographed him so many times I can't possibly locate all the film despite the fact that my work is all carefully filed. Pictures on this exhibition were shot here in Toronto at The Cameron House, The Horseshoe, and Sneaky Dee's, as well as at my home; others were shot in Vancouver, England, Wales, and Las Vegas, and span the period from 1986 - 1999.
He lived life without compromise, never doing anything that didn't have meaning to him on a personal level. Sometimes he'd do things that drove his friends nuts and would neglect to do things that would lead to the success his talent merited.
In performance he was always electrifying and every show was amazing no matter how sick he might be... in 1986 I was in Vancouver for The Hardrock Goners entire 6 week stay, the band played every night but one. At the end Ray's voice was tired and showing the strain... but he was still a wild man on stage, tapping into the very core of rock and roll.
As his old friend Andy Tate commented, "Ray always seemed so frail and weak... but you would go on tour with him and see what his life on the road was like and be shocked at just how strong he had to be to live like that...it's strange to think he's gone."
He died as the result of a heart attack that apparently struck when he awoke from a nap to answer a phone call. He struck his head on the bedside table, was knocked unconscious and died of the internal bleeding that resulted. His death leaves an empty space in the world of country swing and a hole in the hearts of all of his many friends, myself included.
This exhibition is a part of T.O. Twangfest, a wonderful opportunity to see many musicians that follow in Ray's footsteps:
Some of the photographs can be found here
The following link leads to the website started by Ray's former bandmates from The Ricochets, Ray's last band: http://www.raycondo.ca/
Local Ray Condo memorial site:
The official Ray Condo site established by his former bandmates in the Ricochets
Thanks to Adriana Sabogal for bringing the exhibition to the attention of Michael Tait and to Michael for inviting me to present it.