Jon Box, Canadian Music Industry Veteran, Dies at 45: 'He Was a Believer and Made You a Believer Too'

Jon Box with Dave Grohl
Meg Symsyk

Jon Box with Dave Grohl

Jon Box, vp label partnerships and business development at Universal Music Canada and a 24-year music industry veteran "suddenly lost his heroic and courageous battle with mental illness" on Sept. 20 at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, according to an obituary written by his family. He was 45.

Born Jonathan Michael James, Box is survived by his wife of 21 years, Heather Wright, and young daughters Amélie and Tallulah.

A crowdfunding campaign set up for his daughters' education has so far topped 70,000 Canadian dollars ($52,855) from more than 300 donors. On social media, many of the memorial posts, especially from his male friends, talk about how he was there for them when they were going through tough times. 

Jeffrey Remedios, president of Universal Music Canada and co-founder of Arts & Crafts, knew Box for most of his career. "This is difficult to write for I am as in shock as the rest of us," he wrote to Billboard. "Like all who crossed his path, I am going to miss Jon terribly. He was an invaluable leader at our company. There is work done for work's sake... and then there is vocation. Jon's career was a calling. He loved the music business and the music business loved him. His passion for artists and music was infectious. He was a believer... and made you a believer too."

Remedios added, "He's also one of the brightest people I've ever met... yet never made you feel less than. He was always looking out for others. Always taking care of others. Always making sure YOU were ok. He was at the core of our culture. He lightened the workload of his colleagues and the mood of any room he walked into.

"To Heather, Amélie, Tallulah and all of Jon's family I offer my deepest condolences. I cannot begin to articulate how profoundly he will be missed."

In addition to Box's lifelong passion for music and work in the industry, he was instrumental in organizing Universal's fundraising outings for members of the music industry, benefitting the Unison Benevolent Fund, set up to help those in the music industry feeling health or financial stress; and MusiCounts, the national music education arm of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS). For a 2018 Blue Jays game excursion, he emailed, "We are trying desperately to get to 700 tickets. We are currently at 666, the number of the beast! How rock n' roll is that?" 

Bell Media's Randy Lennox, president of Universal Music Canada for 14 years until 2015, tells Billboard, "We were very close. Jon was our dear friend and associate for over 25 years. As a true music person Jon loved music and the independent artists he championed were his true passion. Jon's energy and world travelling were both never ending. We are all heartbroken by his sudden and tragic passing. We already miss his tremendous spirit." 

According to the obituary, "In keeping with Jonathan's loving and generous spirit, many lives will be transformed with the gift of his organs and tissues." The family is asking that contributions be made to the crowdfunding campaign supporting his daughters' education, in lieu of flowers.

Funeral arrangements were made through M.Box & Son Funeral Home, established by Jon's great grandfather, Marshall, in 1920, and carried on by grandfather Laurence and Jon's father Charles.

A casual attire time of visiting and memories will take place at Mount Pleasant Funeral Centre in Toronto on Sept. 27 from 3-7 p.m., followed by a visitation at M.Box & Son Funeral Home in Parkhill on Sept. 29 from 3-7 p.m. 

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