Original Gordon Lightfoot Bassist John Stockfish Dead at 69
John Stockfish, the bassist responsible for the well-known riff that carried Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Sundown’ to success internationally, has died. According to the Windsor Star, the musician was buried in Mississauga today (Aug. 30) after dying in his hometown of Windsor, Ont. on Aug. 20 of natural causes.
Stockfish partnered with Lightfoot and guitarist Red Shea in 1965 after an extensive touring career through Europe and North America. He toured and recorded with the group between 1965 and 1969, but returned to be a part of the 1974 hit.
According to Lightfoot.ca, Stockfish moved to New York in 1969 to play with Jim Croce, but later returned to Canada and worked with artists like Cab Calloway and Mel Torme during his long career. To pay tribute to his talent and influence, the Guess Who namechecked him in their 1968 song ‘Lightfoot.’
“Sidemen come out first / John Stockfish bass guitar / Looks at the world through the eyes of Nashville / The Riverboat and Charlie McCoy,” they sing to begin the song from their ‘Wheatfield Soul’ album.
His daughter Jennifer tells the Windsor Star that her father’s career in music publishing left a mark on the city. When she lived there years later, people recognized the family name. “He wasn’t charismatic in the regular sense of the word but he had a way of drawing people to him either in coffee shops or book shops,” she says.
Stockfish later worked as a consultant for numerous television productions, later moving to North Carolina before moving back to Windsor three years ago. “I guess it brought his life full circle and it seemed the logical place to come back to a few years ago.” Jennifer Stockfish said.
Stockfish leaves behind four kids, four grandchildren and four surviving siblings.
Hear Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Sundown’