Four great names were set in stone last night during the inaugural Mississauga Music Walk of Fame ceremony held at Memorial Park in Port Credit. The Class of 2012 — the Walk’s first honourees — included legendary rocker Ronnie Hawkins, Triumph drummer Gil Moore, opera singer Krisztina Szabo and late great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Moore, the owner of the famous MetalWorks recording studio who has already been enshrined in both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, said there is a difference between national and local attention.
If you can make your passion your profession, you will never have to do any real work again. It’s a philosophy that many men and women have dreamed of, but few have successfully executed. Pre-eminent among musicians who have transformed their careers on the stage into a business that hasn’t just survived off the stage, but has earned its stripes on the forefront of the Canadian music industry is Mississauga’s Gil Moore.
Everyone knows the story of Triumph, the Mississauga band who performed anthemic metal miracles in arenas around the world in the 1970s and 1980s, releasing more than a dozen albums, selling millions of records and eventually earning a place in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. In 1978 the band opened its own private studio on Mavis Rd. so it could tinker with its songs and not have to worry about booking studio time. When Triumph stopped performing a decade later, Moore dedicated himself full-time to the studio. ”Who doesn’t want to work at Disneyland each day?” he said when asked about his motivation in launching the studio. It is a decision that Canadian musicians — and musicians everywhere — look back on with deepest gratitude.
Metalworks has gone from a hole-in-the-wall industrial unit, with 20 students, to a musical mecca that is now more than 17,000 sq .ft. in size and features six studios, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and audio facilities and innovative teaching techniques that reflect its owner’s unmistakable stamp of professionalism — a word that isn’t always top of mind in many aspects of the music business. “Word of mouth from the artists is important,” Moore told The Mississauga News in an interview last year. ”I think trust is number 1.”
When the referrals are coming out of the mouths of artists with first-hand experience at Metalworks whose names are David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, The Cranberries, Rush, Prince, Tom Cochrane, Christina Aguilera, Guns ‘N Roses, Nelly Furtado, Anne Murray, Feist, and Metric, to name but a few — that’s a gold-plated endorsement. Metalworks was named Recording Studio of the Year at the Canadian Music Industry Awards for a dozen consecutive years – so often that it might as well have been renamed the Gil Moore Recognition Award.
With all of the accolades that Triumph and Metalworks have received, you might think that a little some of that might go to a person’s head. But Gil Moore remains the same native son of Mississauga, the same unpretentious guy who founded Gil Moore Audio as a teenager and attended Streetsville and T.L.Kennedy Secondary Schools. The same guy who always had a yen for construction – which may be why the never-ending expansion of Metalworks continues to this day.
If you need a Mississauga Idol judge or sponsor, Gil is there. The prize may be studio time for just the winner, but somehow, he finds time for the top three finishers to record.
Metalworks sponsors the Q107 Homegrown contest , which is no accident. Moore has always had a deep and abiding respect for homegrown talent and he’s always respected his roots — which were planted deep in Mississauga, where he still lives. He grew up in Erindale Woodlands and his parents, Martha and Herb, wrote columns for many years in The Mississauga News. One of those columns was called Suburban Style. The Moores would be infinitely proud to know that their son has come to epitomize his own form of suburban style — one grounded in respecting and teaching the entire business of music, from conception to performance to recording to marketing and beyond, to succeeding generations of musician.
Yes, Gil Moore is a wonderful musician, but we recognize him tonight for all the things he has done that make him so much more than that — those things that make him a true champion of his craft and a perpetual leader of his industry.
“It’s a different type of recognition in your own community,” said Moore. “It has a special feeling and a special meaning.” While growing up, Moore said, he was a fan of both Hawkins and Peterson. So, last night, he was elated to be in the their company and to be honoured with other accomplished musicians.
“Ronnie Hawkins is a legend,” said Moore. “And as a kid, I heard Oscar Peterson records over and over again.” While posing for photos with fans, Hawkins said, “I think it’s just wonderful,” in his famous southern drawl. “I’ve always loved ol’ Mississauga.” Szabo, who received a MARTY Award in 2005 from the Mississauga Arts Council, found it a little daunting to receive her plaque after the Hawk.“Ronnie Hawkins is a very hard person to follow — what a tribute,” she told the crowd. “I’m very proud to be from Mississauga.” During the closing remarks, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion declared: “Mississauga is growing up in a big way.” That’s exactly what Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey had in mind when he put forth the idea to city council.
“It used to drive me crazy when the media would talk about Gil Moore and Oscar Peterson and say they’re from Toronto,” Tovey said. “We’re not a city of 250,000 anymore, there’s 740,000 people in this city — that’s a big city.” Tovey said initiatives such as the Walk of Fame and the arts and culture office make Mississauga a cultural hotbed.
“We’re putting more and more money into arts and culture each year,” he said. “If we’re going to become a real stand-alone city, we’re going to have to have our own arts and culture identity.”
Moore agreed, saying “We’ve got some great achievers and some great monuments and some wonderful things to celebrate here.” Or, as Hawkins put it: “Mississauga starts things first, so Mississauga is rockin’.” Tovey said the Music Walk of Fame monuments have been constructed to last. “They’ll be there for a hundred years,” he said of the four-inch slabs. “There will be 40 more of them here, and school kids will be using them as projects to do history.”