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Community Mourns Sandy Pearlman

Submitted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016

sandy-pearlman-memoriumIt is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that sadly, we announce Sandy Pearlman passed away July 26, 2016. Born August 8, 1943, Sandy became a multi-hyphenate wonder, becoming an outstanding producer, creator, songwriter, manager and theorist for many of the most important bands and musical trends of the last quarter century: Blue Oyster Cult, Clash, Black Sabbath, Dictators, Pavlov’s Dog, Dream Syndicate, and Space Team Electra.

Here is a little bit of background below on Sandy, an intellect we will truly miss. Since August 2014, he was a Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellow at The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. On behalf of myself and McLuhan Centre Interim Director, Seamus Ross, we offer our deepest condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed.


Described by the Billboard Producers’ Directory as “the Hunter Thompson of rock, a gonzo producer of searing intellect and vast vision,” Sandy was infamously parodied by Christopher Walken in Saturday Night Live’s ‘cow bell’ skit on the making of BOC’s “The Reaper”. Pearlman is often credited with the adoption and use of the term “Heavy Metal” during his time as a founder, editor, and writer for Crawdaddy magazine. He was also a founder and leader in 415 Records (the seminal alternative label), EMusic (the first download company), and Moodlogic (the transmedia recommendation engines project), and was recently appointed to the National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB) of the US Library of Congress.

Pearlman was a brilliant and relentless commentator on the “overweight and under-nourished music industry,” developing such concepts as the ‘5 cent solution’ and ‘the paradise of infinite storage’, and appearing regularly at the Future of Music Coalition, Canadian Music Week, South-by-Southwest, Pop Montreal, Los Angeles Film Festival, Southbank Festival, etc.

At McGill University, Pearlman was the inaugural Schulich Distinguished Visiting Professor in Music, and was involved in innovative teaching in five faculties and several academic areas, including Music, English, Religious Studies, Law, and Management. An astounding polymath, with a seemingly near-bionic memory bank of information at his disposal in myriad disciplines from physics to arcana, Pearlman was constantly evocative and provocative. As a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto Pearlman was responsible for inspiring insights into the nature and impact of symphonic music in an Arts elective course and developing new inter-faculty interdisciplinary initiatives in Music Technology & Digital Media. In that context, he was also a McLuhan Fellow through The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology of the UofT iSchool. In addition to his presence at UofT and McGill, Pearlman was a frequent guest lecturer and sought-after advisor in digital media issues at many institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Stony Brook, Calgary, Dominican University of California, UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

Sandy leaves behind the transformed lives of many friends and fans, students and colleagues. His unique and inspiring presence will be deeply missed by us all.

Dr. Wendy Duff
Dean and Professor

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