Like many of those who’ve enjoyed listening to or performing with Glyn Stephens as he sang, played bass or guitar and served as a frontman on stages across the GTA over four decades, I hadn’t seen him nor heard a lot about him performing for some time.
He’d been posting on his Facebook timeline about not feeling well since the middle of last year, but it came as a shock to many in late January when he announced that he had “found out a couple of months ago I had cancer in my esophagus. Then found out it was stage4 cancer in my liver. I wasn’t sure how to post it or if I should post it at all. There you have it don’t know what else to say. Love to all the great friends I have made over the years.”
Today, after a 6-week battle against the condition, came the sad news of his passing this afternoon in a social media posting by his wife, Katherine.
“Hi everyone. Katherine Stephens here. I am saddened to tell you that Glyn passed away this afternoon,” she posted at approximately 3 p.m. today.
Although he appears to have been doing sideman gigs for several shows with George Olliver’s Gangbuster and the Chris Smith Band for the past few years, it had been some time since he’d been one of the 3 Dads Pop Rock super-trio with which, for over ten years, he regularly performed on vocals and guitar/bass at Timothy’s Pub in Etobicoke.
It’s been seven years since I wrote about Glyn as part of that threesome, which also included Virgil Scott and Jay Speziale, for the occasion of their 8th anniversary at Timothy’s. That group disbanded in late 2017 after Speziale had developed some health issues.
Even before his stint with the trio and until at least a few years ago, Jay was also a core member of even more acclaimed outfit in which he played a variety of roles, the 10-piece Steely Dan tribute Pretzel Logic. Over several years until fifteen years ago I used to see him with them regularly at the Orbit Room in TO, where group continues to appear the last Thursday of each month.
It had been even longer than his involvement with either of those acts, of course, since the days in the ‘80s and 90s when he and singer Peter Graham Mifsud were the backbone of a dynamic Rock/Top 40 combo known as Nightfly, which was a staple of the chicken wing circuit across the province.
Glyn, whose barrel-chested baritone/tenor voice (also capable of higher registers), multi-instrumental talents and easygoing manner also made him a welcome addition to any combo at special events and jams, (you can hear him sing lead on a song with Chris Smith Band on Soundcloud) is also being remembered for his gentle, affable nature in a flood of over 150 (so far after just six hours) Facebook posts by friends and an all-star panoply of fellow performers.
Drummer Greg Critchley wrote that “I had such a nice chat with Glynn a few weeks ago. He was so deeply loved by such a huge community of people. I will never forget him - like I told him, he’s a part of me that I will always carry.”
Musician Dan Bodanis wrote that “Glyn and I had played music together, a lot, back in the early 80’s, and I always treasured our times together, on stage and off. This is such a huge loss.”
Richard Evans said that “I’m so glad that Peter and I were able to visit him a few weeks ago. I have felt quite emotional about it. I hope we brought a smile to his face.”
Keyboardist Don Breithaupt of the CSB wrote that he “loved the big guy so much: his warmth, his humour, his talent. Logged so many hours on the bandstand with him over the years.”
A friend who hadn’t seen Glyn in some time, Andrew Arntfield, recalled that “Glyn was a powerful human. Even though I hadn’t seen much of him in the last 15+ years, his personality, his smile and his grace are still so strong in my mind.”
Steve Kendry, who performed with Glyn in Gangbuster, recalled “I have so many fond memories of working w Glyn (since 1986 w George Olliver) and over the years we have done hundreds of gigs together, the last one being this past October at the Mimico Yacht Club.”
A fellow bass player, Peter Murray, observed that “Unfortunately I never got to know Glyn well. Bass players are never on gigs together… But I was privileged to hear him on a few occasions and was always amazed by his singing… and, he was TOTALLY my kind of bass player! The tone and feel and musicality… made you feel good every time.”
In addition to his wife, Glyn leaves two sons, Devon, 31 and Taylor, 27. No details have yet been released about a memorial service.
-By Gary 17, TorontoMoon.ca, [email protected]