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Cancer has claimed yet another talented and popular local musician well before his time as Rob Tollefson, bass player with a number of local Rock bands over many years, passed away on Sept. 10 after a short battle with the disease at age 50.
He’ll be remembered at a gathering on Sat. Sept. 24 at Pine Hills Funeral Home, 625 Birchmount Rd. Scarborough (between Eglinton and St. Clair Ave. E.) according to a post on his Facebook timeline by his mother Myrna Plaggenborg and sister Deborah. Friends can gather starting at 2 pm with the service beginning at 3 pm and a reception to follow.
“We ask friends to share their memories of Rob. This is not to be a sad affair, Rob was not a sad person, he was always upbeat and that’s how we would like to remember him. Memoriums to the charity of your choice,” Mrs. Plaggenborg posted.
Numerous posts on Facebook by band mates current and past, family friends, musical acquaintances and other friends spoke to not only his dedication to his instrument and music scene but described a helpful, pleasant demeanour and kindness in dealing with others.
Longtime friend and fellow musician Ebi Wey has written an account of who Rob was and what he meant to others that summarizes much of the feeling. It appears below:
Rob was a tremendously accomplished bass player on the Toronto rock scene. Rob was admired, respected and loved by all his peers and fans, friends and family.
He was the kind of guy who would get up and jam with anybody regardless of their ability. He just loved to play. It didn’t really matter the style, Rob could play almost anything you threw at him. He was that damn good. He just loved music. At band practice he was the first to show up and wait for everyone else to arrive and usually the last to leave.
Past bands were numerous. The ones I can recall him talking about included Hanging Tree from the 90s, Blizzard of Ozz and The Exhalted Piledriver, with which he toured throughout Europe.
More recently, bands that I got to see and/or play in with him were Sabbatron, Strictly Sabbath, Disciples of Dio and most recently with us in Muffin.
Rob was my friend as well as my band mate. I loved the guy like a brother. He was the kind of guy who would engage in conversation with anyone. There was no ego or pretentiousness about him. He just loved being with people and hanging out with his friends. You couldn’t ask for a more easy-going buddy to chill with or be in a band with.
Whenever I would call him up on a Saturday or Sunday and ask what he’s doing, 99% of the time his reply would be, “Just playing some bass,” and I would hear him plunking away the background. The man just lived for and loved to play bass. He was that dedicated. He really was married to music.
He looked like a mad Viking playing his bass: a big guy with long, silvery hair and sporting a goatee. One of our mutual friends gave him the nickname King Tolly (kind of a play on his last name). If you saw him play bass you’d know why the title King fit. On stage he was monster. I don’t know how his basses made it through a gig. He plucked, galloped and pulled harder than any other bass player I’ve ever seen.
It was quite the painful shock when he informed us that he would have to step aside from all band-related activities for an undetermined amount of time. We had just played a gig a few days before, on Sat. July 22, 2021 to be exact. We all hoped that it wouldn’t be too long of a leave. I told him he had to beat this, that defeat was not an option. However as his condition worsened and the news kept getting worse, an uneasy feeling started to sink in. Rob was fighting for his life.
Cancer is a relentless son of a bitch of a disease. It doesn’t care who you are, what you do, what gifts or joy you have to offer the world. It doesn’t care how much you’re loved or admired, how good a friend you are, how good a sibling or son you are. It just doesn’t care. But we care, and we will remember him and all the good and joy he brought to us who knew him.
Rob left a GIANT footprint on the Toronto rock scene and a giant hole in our lives and hearts. He will be missed by all whose lives he touched and rocked.