Canadian Radio Host and Indie Music Advocate Dave 'Bookie' Bookman Dies

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David Leyes
Dave "Bookie" Bookman 

Radio host/interviewer and club booker Dave Bookman, simply known as Bookie, a Canadian music industry legend who championed music on air for decades at Toronto's Indie88 and 102.1 The Edge, and gave countless bands a shot at his weekly Nu Music Nights at the Horseshoe, died today (May 21), just shy of his 59th birthday Thursday.

He had been found unconscious from an apparent aneurysm at his home in April when he didn't turn up for his shift at Indie88 and had been hospitalized ever since.  

"We're devastated to announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Dave 'Bookie' Bookman. He left us, peacefully, at 12:45 this morning," announced Indie88, which is dedicating air-time to honor their colleague by telling stories and playing his favorite music.

It was followed by a touching remembrance from Josie Dye, one of his best friends, who does the morning show on Indie88, and worked with Bookie for 20 years starting at The Edge.

"Everyone knows Bookie as a crusader of the independent, winning the Unsung Hero award for his spirit and drive to make Indie happen. He has started careers for major bands such as Billy Talent, but he was also known as one of Canada's top interviewers, forming relationships with artists such as Dave Grohl and Bono," she wrote.

"Bookie was the last true personality on air. He wasn't hired for his charm, his looks, or his voice. He didn't work his brand, or promote himself. He exuded knowledge, truth, opinions that mattered that had foundations in research and love for music. Bookie was never defined by a genre or a stereotype and cool was never in his vocabulary. He never lost vision of the music that unites us and even the word ‘Indie' was too pigeon-holed for what he brought to the music scene."

She also revealed Bookie "loved The Young and the Restless and Gilmore Girls and would comment the same way about each episode as he did the newest, hottest band."

Last year, Bookie, was honored at the CIMA Celebration & Awards Gala in Toronto with The Unsung Hero Award, "recogniz[ing] unwavering commitment and outstanding support to the Canadian independent music industry."

Bookman was at influential radio station CFNY/The Edge 102.1 for more than 20 years -- including hosting The Indie Hour -- before going to upstart station Indie88 for his "next adventure," as he called it. He also, by estimations, booked the longest running live music series in Toronto -- perhaps Canada -- the free Nu Music Night, Tuesdays, at the Horseshoe.  

In his CIMA acceptance speech, he included answers to some questions he said he got "all the time."  His fave interview? Elvis Costello. Nicest people in the world? Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher. The worst interview? Johnny Rotten ("he's just a mean prick").

He concluded the night with these words: "If you're watching live music or however you do it, just take a second to look at their [the musician's] face and the odds are there will be a big smile on it, and all of these things converge to allow me to get up every day and go to do something I love with people I adore and doing something worthwhile. And tonight's been worthwhile. I'd like to thank all the other award winners. And, of course, to CIMA for providing the spirit that keeps us all going and we can all walk out of here with our heads feeling a little bit higher and our hearts a little more filled with the good stuff. It's going to be a good day tomorrow and the day after and the day after that."

Bookie gave us many good days, curating a playlist that turned music lovers on to new bands, reminded us of old ones, and chatting with musicians with reverence and a casual familiarity like old friends.

Tributes are pouring in all over social media:

102.1 The Edge:
We're sad to hear of the passing of Dave "Bookie" Bookman. He's forged many great relationships with staff and listeners. He will be greatly missed. Our heart goes out to his family.

Sloan:
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Dave Bookman @BookieAtNight. He was a massive supporter of ours from the first time we met in the very early 90s. Toronto has lost a music scene legend. #RIPBookie

Michael Hollett, founder NXNE:
So sad to learn of the passing of Dave "Bookie" Bookman, a great guy and a great supporter of live music, especially indie acts. We crossed paths so many times over the decades checking out bands. Such a champion, always ready to hear something new and promote it. RIP my friend.

SOCAN:
SOCAN is grieving the passing of Dave Bookman, a true champion of Canadian and international indie music, most notably as an on-air personality at Toronto radio station Indie 88. We send our sympathy to his many friends and family at this very sad time.

Live Nation Ontario:
Our Live Nation family is saddened today by the loss of our friend and music lover, Dave “Bookie” Bookman. Our hearts are with Dave’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.

Ron Sexsmith:
RIP Dave Bookman. A true icon of radio and of the Toronto indie music scene. Always enjoyed seeing him around town at concerts and events. Very sad news.

Polaris Music Prize:
Today's tributes are awesome because they're all inspired by the greatness that is Bookie. He believed in the power of song and was supremely gifted at communicating that belief. He was one the truest friends music's ever had. A rare bird. The Late Great Dave Bookman.

Ron Hawkins:
There are no words to fully describe how many people Bookie nurtured and inspired and how barren the cultural landscape (especially the indie and alternative one) would have been without him. And what's even rarer... he did it all with a huge smile and a beautiful soul. To say he'll be missed is a vast understatement. xo RJH

Steven Page (ex Barenaked Ladies):
Absolutely horrible news today about the passing of Dave Bookman. I met him first at a show by his band The Bookman when I was 17. He was later one of BNL's earliest supporters while at CIUT and then CFNY. He was one of the greats.

Jeff “JC” Cohen: