One word sums up the life of Jon Long, being remembered today

Jon Long celebrating his 41st birthday in 1999 -GARY 17

Jon Long celebrating his 41st birthday in 1999 -GARY 17


If you had to pick just one word to describe Jon Christopher Long, who passed away too young at 60 in his sleep last Friday, April 20 from coronary disease, that would be it.

He was a multi-dimensional force in the Toronto and GTA music community and in all of the many roles he played it was giving for which he was best known and for which he’ll be remembered.

He was an enabler of musicians needing equipment through his 30 years as a senior credit employee at his family’s Long & McQuade Musical Instruments head office store near where he lived all his life.  He was a supportive, encouraging band-mate handling the kit for a wide variety of acts and artists ranging from Jazz through Blues, Rock, Country, Roots and even Hip Hop/Reggae and hosting jams that encouraged a generation of young players to get on stage and improve their chops.  He was an unstinting promoter of local artists through staging and booking shows, paying out of his own pocket to have recordings made, coughing up the dough for band promotions and paying the talent when shows didn’t work out as expected.  And he was a generous friend proffering “investments” and “loans” and gifts to those he deemed deserving of support who were struggling to make ends meet.

Jon was also a long-time supporter of my music publication project since its beginnings when I first met him in the early 1990s and he arranged for Long & McQuade to advertise in it, as well as taking out ads himself to promote his shows and other acts and in boosting it to many, many other musicians.

Playful Jon beating a tune on friend Bruce Palait's head in 2010. -GARY 17

Playful Jon beating a tune on friend Bruce Palait’s head in 2010. -GARY 17

Kind.  Gentle.  Optimistic.  Fun-loving, playful.  All those adjectives also apply to Jon, despite a troubled last decade that some found all the harder to take because of the contrast to the man he’d been to so many for so long before the nearly fatal 2009 accident from which he never really fully recovered.

[See, in a separate post, a distilled collection of posts remembering Jon made on social media and on the official obituary tribute page set up online.]

But Jon’s years of struggle since suffering brain damage after being hit by a speeding bike courier while crossing Bloor Street in front of the family’s store no more define him than a description of smoke encompasses what fire is.  And in Jon the fire burned pure and true and intensely bright, even through the difficult years endeavouring to get back to himself after the accident.

Jon is being remembered today in these many ways and more by the legion of people he touched in his life.  His funeral service takes place at 3 p.m. at Grace Church on-the-Hill at 300 Lonsdale Road off Spadina a few blocks north of St. Clair Ave. West.

Obituary posted by family on

Obituary posted by family on

He will also forever be remembered as a passionately proud and kind father of grown son Aaron and daughter Victoria, and as the devoted husband to his late wife Laurel for better and for worse until the end of her too-short life when she passed in 2003 after a battle with cancer.

He will also live on in memory as a fun-loving brother by siblings Cathy, Jen, Julie, Steven and Jeffrey, and as an honest, upright son to be proud of by Jack and Carol.

None of this is to say Jon was perfect.  He was no saint and made mistakes;  but unlike many today he owned up to them when he became aware of his errors.  He liked to party —sometimes, especially in younger years, a bit too much— and was an enthusiastic advocate for the benefits of mood-altering substances.

But for those of us who loved him, as family, friends, acquaintances or business cohorts, it was Jon who was the real mood-altering substance.  He put smiles on a lot of faces.  What more important work is there to be done during a short human life than that?

-Gary 17,
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When sufficient support has finally been received from the local music community to enable to finally create the dedicated Musical Legacies Online Museum site for which I have been gathering material, Jon will, of course, be included along with many additional legacy materials such as photographs, recollections by others, articles, videos and more.  For more details email [email protected]  or [email protected]

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