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February 23, 1950 - November 24, 2015
Chris Palmer died on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 in the Health Sciences Centre (Winnipeg) at the age of 65.
He will be sadly missed by his girlfriend Mary Anne Henderson. He is survived by his daughter Emily Palmer of Fredericton, New Brunswick and his sister Cathy Mason of England. He is predeceased by his parents Donald and Caroline Palmer.
Music was tremendously important to Chris. He was an active, professional musician since 1964. He was a singer, prolific song-writer and he played the harmonica and 12 string guitar. He performed and recorded with Joe Cocker, George Harrison, The Strawbs, David Bowie and many other well-known artists.
Chris was the co-founder and co-organizer of an International Conference on Science, Literature and Contemporary Culture at Carlton University, a co-organizer of numerous folk festivals and musical events, member of board of Sooke Folk Club 2002 - 2005 and the president 2003-2004. He enjoyed reading, cooking, swimming, walking, curling, board games, drawing, painting, woodworking and most of all, recording. His writing included freelance work in the form of book reviews for the Edmonton Journal and Victoria Times-Colonist. He wrote articles and reviews for Ottawa liberal arts and entertainment magazines, short stories, reviews and articles which were published in San Francisco Magazine
Chris also spent many years pursuing a career in Social Services. He acquired a wealth of experience in the field, especially with regard to residential treatment and management of a residential facility.
Chris was a man of integrity, creativity and he had a well-developed (if slightly warped) sense of humour and an open and active mind. He will be missed greatly by all those who had the good fortune to know him.
Celebration of Life arrangements are pending and this page is currently under construction. We expect that it will be finalized by end of day Thursday, December 3, 2015 (Today). Thank you for your patience.
Musical Selections Featuring Chris
From: Liam Arthurs
A quick note from out here on the west coast..
Chris was much admired and much loved but the folkies, sookies and the rockers out here in BC. I promised that the next "round' was on me, He said 'sure', but he never came back to collect.
Rock on and hit the high notes buddy.
From: Dan Baker-Moor
The first time I met Chris, we were all huddled around my mother-in-law's tiny computer monitor being introduced to this gent she met in Victoria. I'm still surprised that he chose to brave Winnipeg and that motley crew, surprised and grateful.
There were so many lovely simple moments over the years that I can hold on to. His homemade fish and chips were the best (even your mushie peas were great, and that comes from a man who fears his veggies). We shared single malt scotch (thankfully something other than the Tullibardine, because frankly Chris, that was like drinking water). We sat and watched hockey while you explained how the rules had changed to make it a faster game (I didn't get it). We sat and watched Mrs. Brown's Boys (which I got). We shared common interests in music and books (I'm still on the lookout for a copy of the film "The Final Programme," Chris).
I remember his excitement when he got his new twelve string guitar (you placed it in my lap and it felt too big to play). You brought out your harmonica and played an impromptu jam session with my brother-in-law at my wedding. I'm sorry our time together was so short, Chris.
I feel privileged that for part of your time in Winnipeg. I could call you family, and even more grateful that I could always call you friend. (I wrote something for Chris that I had previously shared with some of his friends, and was asked if I would share it here as well, so here it is in its entirety.) When we were visiting you in the hospital, Chris, Julia leaned into me and said "He really is your hero, isn't he?" Only not so much a question. It wasn't because the first time we had dinner together you poured yourself a pint of coffee to go with your desert (the little kid voice in my head went "you're allowed to do that?").
ou played with The Gods and Royalty of Rock in your youth, only that wasn't it either. The first time I saw you play in Winnipeg was for a small crowd in a coffee house (I can't remember if it was Academy or Sunstone). There was no ego or arrogance. In fact, I always remember a look of embarrassment on your face when someone would bring up your musical history. There was only joy found in the art of performance. I'm sure there were times when it was frustrating, when the five coffee house patrons were more interested in their lattes then in the music. Yet you still played. For yourself. For the joy of it. And for that diehard fan in the corner.
Thank you for teaching me to find joy in the work. That's why you are my hero, Chris. That's why you inspire me. I know we'll be getting together later to celebrate your life, Chris, I just needed to get this out, as a once upon a time member of your Winnipeg family. Thank you for ridiculous/classic rock and roll motorbike tragedies, transvestite love affairs, and gentle ghost stories.
Thank you for the ballet, Chris Palmer.
From: Darryl Torchia
For almost a decade, I had the honor, privilege and joy of being Chris's principal musical partner in the roots/blues group Mercy Mercy, originally a trio and latterly a duo.
Whether on stage or in the recording studio, Chris was a consummate professional and a gentle, generous friend. Besides our musical comradeship, we shared a love of books and movies, and we were constantly introducing each other to new authors, musicians and DVDs.
Whenever I phoned him, I knew he would answer with an exuberant "Hello, there!", the sound of a man open to life, friendship and new experiences.
He will be sorely missed and lovingly remembered.
From: Stewart McEwen
The first time I met Chris was at Happy Mike's Coffeehouse. Chris walked up to our band and commented that if we would like a harmonica player he was available. He joined us on stage for two songs. I was impressed with his playing. I met him again at Gordie's Coffeehouse about a year later and he suggested we get together and do some music.
Since then I was lucky to have Chris record his harmonica on several of my songs. It was great to be able to perform with Chris at gigs as well. I was always amazed how good he was. With respect to recording, one take and that was it. This guy never made mistakes. He was unbelievable.
Music flowed from Chris like butter. He could take any song and make it click. I'll never forget when I mentioned to Chris that I owned four mics—and I wondered if I had a disease. To make me feel better he said that he owned six mics.
He liked to make constructive ideas and criticisms of songs—and they always made the songs stronger. His own lyrics and songs were beautifully crafted. One of my last memories of Chris was after our band performed at Happy Mike's Coffeehouse on November 7, 2015, and it was late at night. We were leaving to go home and there he was –on stage—playing harmonica with another performer during open mic. I thought to myself, that is Chris—he just loves playing music.
His music will last forever. I will cherish my memories of him for the rest of my life. It was an honour to have known Chris. Chris was a good guy!!!
From: Candy Allen
I first met Chris when he stopped to assist me after a large elm tree limb fell on me in front of my home. It was a near miss for me and I was very badly shaken. I was most impressed by his kindness. Chris helped me into my house, drove off and returned with coffee! We have been fast friends since.
In 2011, I was able to return the favor as Chris had been given a dismal diagnosis then within a week his mother died in England. He likened that week to the Queen's statement that she had had a horrible year. Chris took some time out at our summer home at the lake (fishing) while sorting out his thoughts. He was making a plan for the six months as he felt they would be his last.
Chris and Darryl drove our lake-van to Vancouver to play music...what a surprise. Soon after, Chris on his own this time drove the lake-van to Ottawa to perform again. Instead of being devastated he was beaming! Four years have passed in which Chris has had ups and downs as we all do and now yet another devestating illness has produced a shooting star.
He is gone yet not forgotten.