R.I.P. Rock scene booster Colin McAllister

Colin McAllister -Bill Reid Photography, posted on FB by Rickferd Van Dyk

The GTA music scene is blessed with a lot of talents in pretty much every genre you care to name but all of these artists, from Country singers to Jazz noodlers to heavy Rock bashers and earnest Roots songwriters, have one thing in common: they rely upon their fans and promoters to keep their careers and their art flourishing.

In one of his final Facebook posts a day before he passed away at just 54 years of age in his sleep overnight August 30-31 of a heart attack, Rock scene promoter, photographer and super-fan Colin McAllister urged all his friends to come out to a jam happening Tuesday night at The Rockpile in Etobicoke.

“Monthly Metal Jam tonight at The Rockpile, hope you all remember since I seem to be the ONLY one interested in advertising it!! Come on out and jam some metal tunes on the BIG stage from 8:00pm to 12:00am!!” the big-hearted, barrel chested, furry and friendly giant of a fan posted.

That was typical of Colin, who was at as many Rock jams and shows as he could fit into a week, often taking photos that he subsequently shared with the artists and other fans.

From Scarborough to Etobicoke and from parts farther afield, musicians and fellow music fans expressed their shock, dismay, disbelief and grief as the news spread following a post by his sister, Margaret McAllister-LaRocca, late last evening.

Colin McMaster with Susan Gula August 11 @ Rockpile -FACEBOOK

“For all of you that knew my brother Colin McAllister it is with a very sad heavy heart that I have to tell you that he passed away in his sleep this morning of a heart attack. He did pass peacefully but as you can imagine it is heartbreaking and a shock to our family and Lorna and I’m sure to all of you who knew him. My father and I wanted to let all of you know since he had so many friends and all of you were very near and dear to him and he would want you to know. I won’t know anything about arrangements at the moment but should know more tomorrow. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Rest in Peace little brother. You and Mum have a lot of catching up to do”, she wrote on his Facebook timeline.

I recently had a first-hand experience with Colin’s friendliness and generosity of spirit when, noticing I had my CANON camera around my neck, he approached me outside the Rockpile during the July 16 memorial for the late Hervé Basset.

After asking how it was going and other pleasantries, unbidden and enthusiastically he eagerly shared some photo-taking tips he’d developed for shooting in rooms like the ‘pile, where the stage lights can produce some weird hues; he pulled out his phone to show me a slew of shots he’d done that way, all them quite masterful. (Small wonder —what I hadn’t known about Colin despite our Facebook connection, was that he was also the owner of his own photography company.)  All I could say was “Thanks buddy!” and meant it.

As last night’s shows ended and performers returned home and logged on to social media, tributes started pouring in on McAllister’s Facebook page.  The vast majority describe him as one of the music scene’s best friends —maybe the best of all of them.

Colin McAllister [right] being wished Happy Birthday by Blushing Brides at Rockpile Augsut 11 -Susan Gula on Facebook

By press time posts had been made by performers like Mississauga’s James Alcock, host of the monthly Metal jam Colin that attended Tuesday (and singer for the Best of Both Worlds Van Halen tribute that McAllister had enjoyed at the club this past Saturday); the host of the weekly Monday night Rockpile jam, Scarborough icon Al Reilly; Scarborough singer Tommy Rocker; guitarists Anthony Cee and Roland Roxx; bassist and keyboardist Tim Langan of Durham Region; Blues guitarist Frank Cosentino from Hamilton and many others.  All posted similar recollections of a genuine, supportive, helpful person, as some of the following excerpts show:

Al Reilly: “Colin was out to almost every show that Catalyst has ever played and for the past 7 years we have played his Birthday Party Without saying a word we both knew how much we loved each other!! There will never be a day that goes by that I won’t think of you and fondly remember a time we spent together.” 

James Alcock: “The best supporter of live music in the GTA … I’m in the middle of the street crying … God damn it! I loved you man …no one like you. No one.”

Tim Langan: “truly one of the sweetest dudes you would ever want to meet. NO ONE was as supportive of live music like Colin was. There are some contenders, but not like this guy.”

170822 Moon has live music coveredNEWTommy Rocker:: “Heat, Rain, Cold & Snow Colin McAllister was always there to support and be part of the show! He was always there to make me smile even when i was sad because he was that very special kind of a lad. Colin was like a member of all the bands he came out & always supported.”

Roland Roxx: “a great guy and great supporter of the music scene here. His presence will sadly be missed by me and many friends and musicians whom he came to know and loved. He was true to his convictions.”

In addition to his sister, Colin also leaves his life partner Lorna Bell.  He will also be mourned by a legion of fellow fans, many of whom had begun posting photos of him with them and various musicians, such as one in which he’s being wished happy birthday by a member of the Blushing Brides at their August 11 Rockpile show.

Reilly has announced that the next Monday Rockpile jam will be dedicated to Colin’s memory and Alcock seems to suggest that another larger show may also be in the works.  Like a couple of others he’s also suggested that Rockpile should affix McAllister’s name to “the seat at the end of the bar, where he always sat” to honour the contribution he made to helping a thriving Rock ‘n’ Roll scene there.

More information about memorials, etc. will be posted as it becomes available.

-Gary 17, TorontoMoon.ca