R.I.P. Nik Beat … passed away suddenly September 17, 2021
\ TORONTO \
Shockwaves are rippling through the Toronto poety, music and media communities tonight as word spreads about the sudden passing of author, songwriter and radio host Nik Beat of unknown causes.
His sister, Teresa Barry Longley, made the announcement at approximately 7 p.m. tonight on his Facebook page timeline with this post:
“I am sorry to have to tell everyone but my brother, Nik passed away suddenly today, we will give you everyone more information when we find out. Please do not go to his apartment.”
She added later as a comment: “He was a true friend to his friends I know and while my life has always been very different from his, he was always there when I needed a big brother. We know nothing at this point, we will know more tomorrow. Blessings and peace to all of you.”
Posts on his timeline from the previous 18 hours until about 5 p.m. by friends —in particular photographer and music scene supporter Kimberly Mallett— had expressed dismay, growing concern and then alarm after he failed to show up for a meeting with Mallett Wednesday evening, was not answering his phone and had allowed his message inbox to become filled, all behaviours totally uncharacteristic of the ebullient, outspoken and very social personality and artist.
Also known to his family and some friends as Mike, Beat’s passing has elicited outpourings of shock, rage, grief and love from friends and family.
His niece, Shannon Barry, posted: “Uncle Mike you were the most creative, interesting, intelligent man I know. I love you so much and will miss you everyday. I wish I could of been there more to learn from you. You will be missed!”
Fellow poet and many-times guest on Beat’s weekly “HOWL” Tuesday night live radio show, Jeff Cottrill, wrote: “My first immediate memory upon hearing the news was the time, back in 2007 or 2008, when he dedicated a poem to me onstage as a peace offering after we’d had a silly falling out. It was a very sweet, sensitive and classy thing to do. ‘I believe in God, but I might change my mind tomorrow.’ I hope he didn’t change it this time. Rest in peace.”
Cottrill’s comment has particular resonance for me, as a few months ago Nik and I had also had a falling out —but one which didn’t really get patched up despite him making an effort to do so a few weeks ago.
It too was rather “silly” —he took umbrage at a rather flippant comment I made about a picture he had posted on Facebook (the comment was about the appearance of the person he was with) and while I hadn’t intended any harm apparently the other person felt quite hurt and he was outraged, told me we were “done” and unfriended me. I believed he was way over-reacting out of overprotectiveness, as I later told him; but while he did try to sort things out by sending me a new friend request recently, he also adamantly refused to apologize for his strong response. For better or worse, that was Nik: a passionate soul who put his friends before his own self-interest and made no apologies for it.
As a mutual friend, Pat Kelly, put it in his post on Beat’s timeline: “If you had the pleasure of having him as a friend, you knew that if he were the only friend you had, that is all you would’ve needed.”
I can’t tell you how much I regret having had to belatedly accept Nik’s friend request posthumously in order to compile this report and how much I feel like an ass for not letting the silly misunderstanding go when he sent out the olive branch.
I can console myself with the knowledge that prior to our spat I had made him very happy by writing an article about the on-air fundraiser for his HOWL show on April 16 of last year and another for this year’s fundraiser on April 15, for which he expressed a lot of gratitude, and more recently this past March by using his photo for a post about an arts, music and poetry event. I also continued to list his radio show in the Moon listings (the only radio show included) despite our differences because for many years it has been an important outlet for otherwise unknown artists from a variety of disciplines to receive exposure.
His music, of course, was also top flight, and his poetry was interesting and captivating – you can see a video of him performing a piece on YouTube.
Based on his online posts, in the days and hours before his death it appears he was feeling at the top of his game. The most recent posts to his Facebook timeline that he made were shortly after midnight on Sept. 17, when he put up photos of himself appearing at an event in Kensington Market as a “media personality” guest, shortly after airing his latest, and now last, radio show and seemed in very bright spirits.
Since cause of death is not yet known even by his family obviously it will be some time before any funeral/memorial arrangements can be made.
When more information is available it will be posted, as will a more comprehensive account of his art and accomplishments. If anyone would like to write something about Nik I would be happy to consider it for publication. Please send any such accounts or queries to [email protected]
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca