• "There's no other way to tell you this ... I loved Johnny..."
  • "I enjoyed chatting during lunch with Johnny and Joan while..."
    - David Lasker
  • "Dear family, On December 18, 1956, we Walked Hand in Hand..."
    - Larry Paikin
  • "My deepest sympathies."
    - Doreen Ruso
  • "My brother, Angelo, and I delivered the Star newspaper to..."
    - Erwin Miranda

COWELL, Johnny January 11, 1926 - January 22, 2018 Johnny Cowell has been referred to by the World's International Trumpet Guild as one of Canada's most outstanding Trumpet soloists. Johnny died surrounded by his loving family on January 22, 2018 in his 93rd year. He has been the featured soloist with many Canadian symphony orchestras and concert bands. For a number of years during his association with the Toronto Symphony, he appeared as a soloist on the pop programs with conductors Richard Hayman and Newt Wayland and America's King of Pop Erich Kunzel. Erich Kunzel referred to Johnny as a combination of Wynton Marsalis, Maurice Andre with a good amount of Harry James thrown in for good measure. Johnny began his solo playing career at age 15 when he became the featured Trumpet soloist with the Toronto Symphony Concert Band which played a series of concerts over the CBC radio network. In 1942, at age 16, he played his first engagement with the Toronto Symphony. During the war years, he was the soloist with the Royal Canadian Navy Band. After his discharge from the Navy, he was awarded a scholarship in composition from the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. In addition to having a brilliant career as a Trumpet soloist, Johnny was one of Canada's best known commercial composers. John has had more than 100 of his songs recorded. Two of these have become international standards on the hit parade charts around the world: Walk Hand in Hand (1956) and Our Winter Love (1963). His song Stroll Along with the Blues was in a scene in the British comedy film " Two Way Stretch" featuring Peter Sellers. Walk Hand and Hand was featured in the movie "Withnail and I", in the TV series "Heartbeat" as well as "Call the Midwife". Just recently, another of Johnny's songs called These are the Young Years was featured in the TV series "Breaking Bad". Johnny retired from the Toronto Symphony after being associated with the orchestra for 40 years. After retiring, he was invited to become Principal Trumpet of the Toronto Philharmonic conducted by Kerry Stratton, a post he held for 10 years. Also for 8 years, he became one of the featured soloists with the Hannaford Street Silver Band. Johnny's hometown made him Tillsonburg's favourite son. He was awarded a star in the Scarborough Walk of Fame (2007). In 2005, he received the lifetime achievement award from the American and Canadian Federation of Musicians. Johnny's final appearance as a soloist was on February 13, 2016 at 90 years old with the Hannaford Youth Band of Canada conducted by Anita McAlister. One of the highlights of Johnny's solo playing career was when he was called to substitute for Doc Severinsen who had to cancel a solo engagement with the Hamilton Philharmonic. In 1984, Johnny was commissioned to compose a special fanfare for Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of the Metro Convention Centre. Johnny was the devoted and loving husband to his wife Joan, who sang with a number of dance bands in the Toronto area. Joan and Johnny met when they worked together in the same dance band. They have been married for 65 years. Dear and loving Father of Marcy (Michael), Grandfather and "Papa" to his much loved grandchildren Shawn, Patrick and Megan. Johnny will be missed by his loving niece Dianne of Norfolk, Virginia. Johnny composed and performed his own Trumpet Concerto with the Toronto Symphony in 1978. Since then, his concerto has been performed by Canadian and American Trumpet soloists in Canada and the United States. A Celebration of Life will be held for Johnny at a date tbd. Details will be posted at: Arrangements have been entrusted to the O'Neill Funeral Home, 905-642-2855. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Heart & Stroke Foundation would be appreciated by the family. If so desired, online condolences may be made at
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O'Neill Funeral Home - Stouffville
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(905) 642-2855
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Published in the Toronto Star on Jan. 27, 2018