Esteemed journalist and musician Greg Quill, one-time Toronto Star music critic and a '70s music icon in Australia, died Sunday afternoon in his sleep due to pneumonia and a recently diagnosed case of sleep apnea, his family said in a message on his Facebook page. He was 66.
“We appreciate all the messages of sympathy and support. We loved Greg very, very much and it is clear that many of you did too. Thank you for keeping Greg in your thoughts,” they added.
Quill still worked as an entertainment journalist at the Toronto Star, most recently as the books columnist, and continued to perform and record music.
According to his Wikipedia page, the Australian native began his music career in the 1960s, and signed a publishing deal with Gus McNeil’s Cellar Music. He released an album, Fleetwood Plain, for Harvest/EMI Australia in 1970. He formed Country Radio that year which signed to Infinity Records.
Quill started co-writing with the band’s Kerryn Tolhurst and their second single, 1972 “Gypsy Queen,” spent 13 weeks on the Australian music charts, peaking at No. 12 (the song was in the soundtrack to 2007’s "December Boys," starring Daniel Radcliffe, and the 2009 ABC series "East of Everything"). It was released in Canada in 1972 on Toronto’s MUCH Productions.
Country Radio toured extensively in Australia, sharing festival stages with Elton John, Santana, Stephen Stills and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band broke up in 1973 and Quill released his acclaimed 1974 solo album, The Outlaw’s Reply. In 1975, he received a travel grant from the Australian Council For The Arts and temporarily moved to Toronto. In Canada, he put together Hot Knives, which became Southern Cross, putting out the single “Been So Long/I Wonder Why” on Elektra. The band split up during a tour of Australia.
Quill returned to Canada, married concert promoter-turned-corporate public relations executive Ellen Davidson, raised a family and did not perform music for two decades. Instead, he became a music journalist and editor for such noted magazines as Music Express, Graffiti, Applaud and Canadian Composer, and in the late '80s published books such as "The Rolling Stones' 25th Anniversary Tour," "Bon Jovi: Hard Rock of the '80s" and "Michael Jackson’s Electrifying." He covered the arts for Toronto Star -- Canada’s largest newspaper -- since 1983.
An impromptu performance in Australia with his old collaborator Tolhurst led to Quills’ return to music. They released So Rudely Interrupted under Quill-Tolhurst in 2003 on True North Records in Canada. Together, they performed at Toronto’s C’est What (with Garth Hudson on piano and accordion) and also did a short tour of Australia. While continuing to write for the Star, Quill performed solo and hosted the weekly Sirius Canada radio show "River of Song" on roots music from 2006 to 2008.
He toured Australia in 2009 and 2011 and reportedly had a new album in the can at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife Ellen Davidson; daughter Kaya; grandson Raymond; stepdaughters Angela and Tosha and step-grandchildren; Jack, Owen and Evelyn.