Comrie Gillbert Smith
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SMITH, Comrie Gillbert - September 29, 1945 - December 11, 2009 Peacefully, surrounded by his family, after heart failure. Dearly beloved by his partner Carol Susko. Loving father of Leslie and Michael. Dear brother of Sheila Edgar (Harry). Longtime friend of Lynda Smith. Also affectionately remembered by many relatives and friends. Cremation has taken place. A memorial and celebration of Comrie's life will be held at a later date. Donations in Comrie's memory to the Heart & Stroke Foundation or charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family. Thanks to the wonderfully kind, supportive and efficient staff in Ajax Hospital Emergency and ICU Departments. Arrangements entrusted to The Simple Alternative, Ajax.


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Published in Toronto Star from Dec. 16 to Dec. 17, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
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28 entries
March 1, 2010
Comrie has been living in my subconscious for the past weeks. His name is on my lips. When I’m speaking to someone or referring to someone else, I have to stop myself from the Freudian slip of saying his name. I’ve decided that this is a good thing & hope that Comrie’s getting a little laugh out of it.
Hope (McBride) Hambly
February 1, 2010

I realize that Comrie has created a lot of music in his lifetime, and this is what he did for me. I was having the toughest time trying to find somebody who could teach me to tune a piano within a couple of weeks. I had a gig coming up as a keyboard tech and I wanted to take on the additional responsibility tuning the piano. In asking some of the institutions and manufacturers, I was being laughed at. I talked to Bob Shindle about this at the point where I was about to give up and Bob suggested that there is this guy, Comrie, that comes to Q-107 to tune the grand and maybe I could ask him if I could sit-in and watch him tune and see if he will show me something. So I did.

Comrie was very receptive to my ambition and after having me tune a couple of unisons said that I had the feel and might be able to do it. While he was there to do a job, he took the extra time to teach me how to temper and tune a piano in 3 gracious lessons. I was an eager kid showing up and he gave me the tools and the ear to be able to tune. He had infinite patience and was a true mentor. I understood that he was there to do a job, but he never made me feel intrusive or uncomfortable. Rather the opposite. My eyes, ears and mind were completely open to his most
tantric suggestions and advice regarding this creative and technical art. I graciously absorbed every word and example, making my notes along the way which I keep with me today. Comrie mentored me in a very short time and gave me the tools and knowledge that would evolve my future work when nobody else would even attempt.

When he said that I was ready to do it on my own, I went to Vancouver to tackle Bryan Adam's touring pianos and while on my own, failed miserably. I called Comrie from Vancouver and asked if I could get a 'refresher' before heading to England as I had a stop in Toronto before venturing onward. He asked what the problem was and agreed to meet me at Q-107, eventhough it wasn't his regular time to do a tuning. My problem wasn't technical, as he had given me this. My problem was confidence. I went through a tuning with Comrie over my shoulder, correcting my sonic indiscretions, and he gave me that last push that a good mentor gives a student, a boost of additional knowledge and confidence that I did it on my own.

That would be the last time that I would see Comrie, in the spring of 1997, though he has never left my thoughts.

I went to England and did my tuning in the rehearsal hall and then the Bryan Adams band started their rehearsals. Shortly after starting the keyboardist asked who tuned the piano. I suspected he was not satisfied and I figured that I would confess my attempt and we would all carry on with the result. He said to me, this is a very musical tuning…I like it! I called Comrie and let him know that I passed the audition and he had words of support and encouragement. The seeds that Comrie planted in me would grow and develop in my passion for tuning through my pursuit of the art.

As I moved along, I never forgot his lessons and technique. I grew with his example and wisdom and expanded my knowledge based not only on his lessons, but moreso by his work ethic.

Since that brief time in 1997, I have had the pleasure to be touring tuner for Bette Midler, Josh Groban, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Steely Dan and Bon Jovi.

Comrie started me on a path that would shape my future. He gave a kid the chance to do it or not. After the Paul McCartney tour, I made attempts to contact him but fell short in making contact. I wanted to share with him my success as a piano tuner/ technician. Wanting to go back to the teacher to say 'the methods that you taught me, the seeds that you planted, have grown through your knowledge and patience into a wonderful career where I can share that same passion with others. For that, I am eternally grateful'.

What Comrie has given me, selflessly, will be part of the fabric of my being for all time. He has always been with me. That is how a student will always see his mentor.

God Bless you Comrie, and Thank You.

Bill St. Amour
January 26, 2010
Comrie Smith was a dear neighbour and friend growing up in Toronto on Roe Avenue during the 1980's and 90's. He was a musical friend of my dad, David Simpson who passed away last August 29th here in Dublin. We had fond memories jamming with Comrie and I would go to guitar lessons from him when I was 12 or 13. I remember him being a great musician and a recording artist. He taught me some great music, "Baby It's You", "If I Didn't Have A Dime", and "Four Strong Winds" some of the songs I liked in particular. He was at Lawrence Park Collegiate when I graduated in 1990 and I know a lot of the students and local kids admired Comrie for his easy going attitude and stories about Neil Young.
Patrick Simpson
January 23, 2010
I have several happy memories of Comrie. One was when Comrie was booked to baby-sit Rosemary and me many years ago, probably in 1964. He built a small jet-powered model boat for me from balsa wood after I had gone to bed and was I impressed the next morning when I got Comrie’s present!
My father gave Comrie our old 16’ cedar strip motorboat back in 1984. I remember helping Dad tow our old boat with my girlfriend at the time over to a beach on our lake where Comrie and a friend then trailered her back to Comrie’s. That boat was over thirty years old at the time and while I was very attached to that boat, I knew that it was going to a meticulous craftsman who would restore her to her former glory. Sure enough, Comrie restored that boat to her original condition, right down to the original bottom paint colour!
Ian Colquhoun
January 14, 2010
I have wonderful summer memories of Comrie (Sid) when he was working for Dad at Pleasant Point, Honey Harbour. We had wonterful times together, ( his little boat that made so much noise, and his music, dances, and much more). I wouldn't have missed it for the world. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Sandy Hewitt-King (Waubaushene,On.)
Sandy Hewitt-King
January 13, 2010
Roger and I were very saddened to hear about Comrie. Roger also played in Citation with Comrie and we have many fond memories. Our thoughts are with his family.
Roger and Reva Perreault, Callander, Ontario
Reva Perreault
January 9, 2010
I will miss Comrie's return to his beloved cottage this spring but the memories of Sid and Rob (McConnell) making music in my father's shop at Pleasant Point will stay with me forever. He was always kind to a kid who was enthralled and just a little start struck. He was one of the good guys. His sea flea was legend.
Wendy Hewitt Gibbs
Wendy Hewitt Gibbs
January 6, 2010
I have so many memories of Comrie Playing and learning music fishing on Georgian Bay. We started a jam in our apartment on Young Street we fondly called the heartbreak hotel. I remember Niels brother visiting at the cottage and Hugh dufour throwing his guitar in the lake when he messed up a chord,laughing till the sun came up and went back down.

I will miss him he was a truly fine musician and a good friend.




Long live the flying D
Mark Kowalski
January 3, 2010
Comrie in "Citation" band early '70s
Min and I were saddened to hear of Comrie's passing.
Comrie and I played together in several bands (enclosed is a photo of our band Citation). Loved the rehearsals in the basement at King City.
Comrie, Lynda and our families shared fun times when our kids were young.
I would always call Comrie "Sid" after the Leafs player Sid Smith.
Our condolences to Carol and his family.
Gary and Min
Gary Rhyno
December 31, 2009
Wow ... can't believe that Comrie is gone. We saw the article in the Star about him and his relationship with Neil Yong last May and were delighted to hear that he was still enjoying life and making music.

I played with him in a band back in the old days for a year or two (who remembers what year) and I always enjoyed his laid back style and the love he had for the music.

He is definitely going to be missed.
John Pullam
December 28, 2009
My deepest condolences to you.
Dave Rogers
December 24, 2009
Comrie was definitely my coolest cousin. Christmas dinners at his place were always fun events especially up in the attic away from the "adults". He loved his cottage and his music with a passion and the world will miss him. I know I do.
Edward Barker
December 21, 2009
I only found out about this sorry event a little while ago and feel both great surprise and great sadness. Comrie and I met in the fall of 1955 and were friends ever since. During the time that we hung out in the Village, we used to joke about retiring (with Ronnie Hawkins) to the white-brick old folks home on Yorkville Avenue. Of course, in those days we never thought that we'd ever be old. I have many, many good memories of Comrie--I always thought we'd get together and reminisce one day. I've saved a few photos--including the one that Leigh refers to in his entry.
Rob McConnell
December 21, 2009
I was very sad to hear of the passing of my cousin Comrie and sorry that we had lost touch over the years. I have great childhood memories of him, and of course that wonderful smile! He was a talented musician who will be dearly missed by family and friends. I send my deepest sympathy to you all.
Mary James
December 20, 2009
I have many great memories of Comrie & Linda from our LPCI days. His creativity, free spirit, sense of humour & of course the Packard resulted in a lot of fun. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get together this summer to reminisce. Jean & I are very saddened to hear of his passing.
Jean & John Yealland
December 20, 2009
I will always remember my cousin Comrie for his fun and laughter on special occasions. He brought so much love to many and I know you are at peace now and an angel is watching over you.
Margaret Kasperowitsch
December 19, 2009
We will always remember Comrie as a wonderful brother to Sheila, a beautiful musician and a free spirit who loved nature and his cottage in Georgian Bay.
Bill and Mary Rashleigh
December 17, 2009
My father Allan (Comrie's first cousin) and I are deeply sadden by the new of Comrie's passing. I had only met him a few times as a child, but was truly touched by his and the rest of our cousins attendance at my father's 80th birthday last year.
Of course we found ourselves chatting about family history, cottage country and of course music. We exchanged wonderful letters afterwards and now I realized how much we all had in common and that I wish I could have learned much more in the short time we had.
I will remember a sweet smile and kindest of words.
Stacey Bonner
December 17, 2009
Comrie showed me my first guitar chord, an E major of course. His constant love of music kept me inspired.
We spent hours talking about songs and jamming in his basement.
Many evenings we yammered on as "Comrie liked to do" about outboard motors and cars...the old 47 Packard and his beloved 41 Plymouth(the Pumpkin).
A true friend and inspiration to many...he will be missed by all that came in contact with him.

Kenny Greer
TC&RR
Kenny Greer
December 17, 2009
Kenny and I were shocked and deeply saddened by Comrie's death. A good man and a good friend with always a kind word.
He took us with him to his meeting with Neil Young to give him the "tapes from the attic" which was a special moment but I think my fondest memory was our many long winded phone calls.
Always such a positive man.
Rest in peace Comrie
Cheryl Greer
December 17, 2009
We remember Comrie. He was cool. When I was a geek in high school he was the handsome guy with all the cool friends, he made music, he had the beautiful girlfriend (Linda) and he smiled. It was the smile that charmed, that said all was well and life was beautiful. You just liked being around Comrie and looked forward to being with him. Life takes its turns and we go in different directions. I'm sorry I saw so little of Comrie in later years but I will never forget him. He was cool.
John Edgar
December 16, 2009
Comrie sold me my first outboard motor (an Elto 1-1/2 HP, I think) back in Grade 10 or 11 at Lawrence. Comrie and Neil and Bunnie (Stuart) and Bo (McConnell), and myself, used to pound out what was a vague notion of music, the occasional Saturday night (about once or twice a month, till Neil moved West) and maybe a bit after, at my place (Basement), then off to the Cottage Restaurant on Yonge St.., north of Lawrence, for refreshment and hell-raising.
Those were the times, they were good times.
While I didn't keep in touch with Comrie, he has always been a classic in my rememberies, and a class act. I will mourn his passing.
John Hoare
John Hoare
December 16, 2009
Comrie and I played together in a couple of bands from '64 to '68. Bob McConnell, Don Connelly, Peter Bunett, Don Haugh and others gigged with us variously as The Travellers, The Frayed Knot, The ZenMen, and a few other groups. We even played in Yorkville one summer, alternating nights with a band fronted by one Neil Young.

On Saturdays we hung out at Long & McQuade, dreaming of buying the things we were there to rent.

Practices at my North Toronto home were on Thursdays. In one of the early years, Comrie arrived one night in a hearse, driven by another musician friend who took over my guitar and began singing in an annoying high-pitched nasal voice. Neil, of course.

Comrie's song 'Lover, Not Your Friend' was always somewhere on our set list.

Comrie, I miss your laughter, your musicality, and your kind friendship.
John Shier
December 16, 2009
I loved working with Comrie in the studio. He had so many great songs, and such a patient attitude while I figured my way around things.
Bob Shindle
December 16, 2009
December 16/2009

I have many memories of cousin Comrie. I remember talking with him over the years about his friendship with Neil Young. Rest in peace Comrie, you'll be missed by family and friends.
Cousin Susan Donnelly
Toronto, Ont
susan donnely
December 16, 2009
December 16/2009

I have many memories of cousin Comrie. I remember talking with him over the years about his friendship with Neil Young. Rest in peace Comrie, you'll be missed by family and friends.
Cousin Susan Donnelly
Toronto, Ont
December 16, 2009
Comrie was always my FAVORITE Uncle! As a young kid, my sibs and I would LOVE the creative and fun activities he and Lynda had set up for us when visiting...but it was all his guitars and drums that excited me most!
Those fun, innocent memories feel as though they happened just yesterday...and I will continue to enjoy and draw from them. Thankyou Comrie. I will miss you dearly.
Big Hugs
Stephen
Stephen Edgar
December 16, 2009
Hello,
Comrie was a high school friend. We entered LPCI together on the same day and I have still in my possession a photograph of Comrie, Robert McConnell, Jim Reeves and myself in Comrie's garden on that day. I am sorry to learn of his passing. Please accept my condolences.
Sincerely,
Leigh Pullen
Leighton Pullen
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