EMI Music Canada’s long-serving president Deane Cameron stepped down last week after 35 years with the company, 24 at the helm.
Cameron, who made history in 1988 when he became the youngest Canadian president of a major record label, has been instrumental to the success of many Canadian artists, including Nickelback, Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Glass Tiger, Tom Cochrane, Stompin’ Tom Connors, k-os, The Rankin Family, The Tea Party, Susan Aglukark, I Mother Earth, Moist, Johnny Reid and Serena Ryder.
In 2010, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada — one of the country’s highest honours — for his contribution to arts and music. In April 2011, he received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards, recognizing individuals who have made an impact in the Canadian music industry.
“Deane has been a friend and colleague to countless members of our community for more than 35 years,” noted Universal Music Canada president Randy Lennox in an internal memo that also outlined Cameron’s many accomplishments. “As a respected competitor, I have admired Deane’s passion and his leadership both of EMI and within our industry. Alongside our many colleagues across the country, I personally thank Deane Cameron for his devotion to EMI Music Canada and his ongoing efforts to enriching the Canadian music industry.”
Cameron began his career as a drummer in a band called Harvest with schoolmate Tom Cochrane. Ironically, Capitol-EMI paid for their demos. He would soon get his first job in the music industry as a teenager, working in the warehouse at the label.
In 1977, he re-joined the company as manager, talent acquisition, and was quickly promoted to vice-president, A&R. His signings included Alias, Helix, Lisa Dalbello, Luba, Prism, Rock & Hyde and Streetheart, and he successfully secured U.S. deals in the mid-80s for nine Canadian artists, such as Corey Hart, Max Webster, Red Rider and Strange Advance. His nickname at the time was Captain Canada.
In 1988, he was promoted to president, and there he remained.
In addition to EMI’s domestic roster, Cameron has played a significant role in the careers of the label’s international artists in Canada, namely Coldplay, Radiohead, Bob Seger, Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Norah Jones, Pet Shop Boys, Sarah Brightman and Tina Turner.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Unison Benevolent Fund.