RIP Gordon Lightfoot; RIP Lightfoot Band

Gordon Lightfoot and his band in concert. (Photo courtesy Gordon Lightfoot Facebook page.)

SKF NOTE: The passing on May 1 of Gordon Lightfoot is the passing of one of the world’s greatest singer songwriters. Lightfoot’s passing also ends one of the world’s greatest singer songwriter bands.

I was going to say I doubt many Lightfoot fans realize how central the songwriter’s band is to his songs. But I don’t think that’s true. I’m no authority, but from observing many fans at several Lightfoot concerts, I’d say the majority of Lightfoot fans fully appreciate the Lightfoot band, individually and collectively.

The Lightfoot band I first heard in concert in Saratoga Springs, NY was Rick Haynes (bass), Terry Clements (guitar), Pee Wee Charles (pedal steel guitar), and Barry Keane (drums). That was in 1980 with the release of Lightfoot’s excellent Dream Street Rose album.

When Charles left the band to tackle other pursuits, keyboardist Mike Heffernan took his place. And when Clements died, Carter Lancaster became the Lightfoot band guitarist.

Each new player, naturally, added his own personality to Lightfoot’s music. But whenever you heard the band accompanying Lightfoot in concert, it was always the Lightfoot sound, always a band of attentive professionals creating Lightfoot music, Lightfoot songs.

In 2016, Lightfoot told a reporter for the Pocono Record newspaper in Pennsylvania, “This really is a folk rock band. Everything I do has a momentum of its own. Some if it really is really good, solid folk rock. Everything I do has a beat to it. I like everything to swing.”

It speaks well of Gordon Lightfoot that, for so many decades, he had such loyalty from a band that set the bar very high for other singer songwriter bands.

For readers interested in knowing more about Gordon Lightfoot’s band, here are two interviews with drummer Barry Keane spanning 41-years.

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