Saying goodbye to Tom

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Tim Hadley, a local musician and teacher, thought it was an April Fools joke when he got a to call to join Stompin’ Tom Connors tour in 2001.

Hadley says he jumped at the chance.

In an interview on Thursday afternoon, he discussed his time with the man behind the character.

“He was a remarkable man, extremely intelligent, very much in control of everything that he did, from his business life to his philosophy of life to the way that he lived,” said Hadley, a bass player who toured with Connors.  “I think people see the character of Stompin’ Tom, the fellow with the big black cowboy hat and the stomping boot. I was very fortunate in that I was able to really get to know Tom Connors.”

Canadian country musician icon Stompin’ Tom Connors died on Wednesday at the age of 77. 

Known for his love of Canada and iconic songs like The Hockey Song, Bud the Spud, and Sudbury Saturday Night, Connors recorded over an astounding 61 albums, ten of which have yet to be released to the public.

Hadley, an elementary school teacher in Trenton, last spoke with him on his birthday in February.

“Playing with Tom was like a cross between being in The Beatles and the Grateful Dead, because when he would play he wouldn’t have a set list. You knew the first song was going to be Bud the Spud and at the end of the night he’d play Sudbury Saturday Night for an encore.  He’d tailor his show to how he was feeling, how he felt the audience was responding to him,where he was in the country because he had songs about every different area,every different region of the country that he’d been through.”

Connors also had a great catalogue of songs in his head.

“I know he was remembered for a lot of his humourous songs but he had an encyclopedia memory of songs he could sing at a drop of a hat,” said Hadley.

We had nights where we’d sit around the hotel room and he’s say ‘oh, it’ll be a Hank night tonight’ and we’d just play songs by people called Hank.”

Hadley has many fond memories and stories to tell about his time on the road and in the studio with Connors.

“One of the stories Tom told me, he liked puzzles, Scrabble and games like that, so he said that there was a thing in the Toronto Star and they asked you to sum up Canada and I forget how many words and he sent his answer into the newspaper and he was hoping he would win a prize, cause he liked to do that.  He didn’t win but he called a song after it.  He said ‘If you don’t believe your country should come before yourself, you’d better serve your country by living somewhere else.’”

Connors is survived by his wife Lena, two daughters, two sons and several grandchildren.

There will be a celebration of his life at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on Wednesday, March 13 from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.


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