RIP Drew Burns

Every month a small group of us get together and talk entertainment. Among this crew was Drew Burns. We all agreed that we lived in the best of times, long gone but famously remembered. The last get together was two weeks ago and Drew showed up having missed a few previous events. We all knew his health was failing but typical of Drew he kept it to himself. That was the last time I saw him.

I arrived at work this morning to phone calls asking if it was true that I discovered his body in his apartment. I was shocked about his death and couldn’t understand how anyone could connect the dots involving me. One phone call to a member of our crew, George Mattis, cleared it up. Drew had a lifelong friend who lived in the same apartment block and helped Drew find his final home there. He had been a beer and wine representative who serviced the Commodore.

His name… are you ready? Bob Redhead.

It was indeed a sad day as another piece of our local entertainment history is gone. There are so many stories about Drew and the Commodore I don’t know where to start but let me suggest you pick up a copy of a new book about the venue written by the man who wrote the history of the Penthouse, Aaron Chapman. He spent the past year working with Drew on the book and was about to call him to tell him that the book was at the publisher and would be out in a matter of weeks. It is too bad Drew won’t be here to read it.

Drew bought the Commodore in 1968 and spent the next 28 years managing it. It became one of the world’s great venues and received kudos from artists around the globe. Some of the acts that appeared at the Commodore included U2, the Police, and a host of punk rock acts that no other club would even look at. Drew was a born gambler and took chances on acts before they became well known. The Commodore is now run by Live Nation as it was sold in 1996, but the personal touch of a guy like Drew is sorely missed. He left his mark on this town, and believe me, he was a generous soul with a wicked sense of humour.

This is indeed a sad day for our city as it has lost a wonderful human being. In many ways he was the soul of the city. Enjoy the long rest my friend… you deserve some peace.

Thanks to old friend Ray Ramsay for a fitting eulogy: “Drew Burns: One of a kind and one of the kind they don’t make any more. Leave it to Drew to step out on a Saturday night.”