April 21, 2004 by

Ray Condo

32 comments

Categories: Musicians

Ray Condo, a popular Canadian rockabilly singer, died on April 15 from an apparent heart attack. He was 53.
Born Ray Tremblay, Condo was raised on the music of Elvis and Hank Williams. At 16, he released his first album as a member of the British Invasion group, the Peasants. He performed with the punk band, The Secret Vs, before finding his niche in rockabilly and western swing music.
Condo spent 11 years playing with the hillbilly garage band, Ray Condo & His Hardrock Goners. The group became a staple in Montreal clubs, and was known as Canada’s premier rockabilly act.
In the 1990s, the singer, guitarist and saxophone player moved to Vancouver and formed Ray Condo & The Ricochets. The Ricochets released several albums and toured all over the world.

32 Responses to Ray Condo

  1. joey myers

    to brother ray,a real gone viper musical genius. you will always be missed and i consider the(brief) time i spent on the road with you and the boys a kind of musical schooling i’ll hold in the highest regard for the rest of my days.cheers! joey

  2. Richard

    I’m deeply saddened that my favourite performer has passed away. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to see him perform live again, where he shone the brightest. The day before I found out he died my wife & I were listening to one of his recordings & I was marvelling at the emotion he conveyed with his voice. Let’s all raise a glass to a great canadian, a great arranger and performer of music.

  3. Pamela Esposito

    I just wanted to let you know that things are moving along with the Ray Condo Memorial Night of Music in Los Angeles, CA. The event is taking place on Sunday, May 16th at Ray’s favorite LA stage, The Derby.
    As of today, here is what we have confirmed for the Condo night:
    Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys
    The Lucky Stars
    Dave Stuckey
    Dave Wolfe
    Speedbuggy
    Jake La Botz
    Eddie Batos
    Justin & Sally Curtis
    Russell Scott
    Champagne Velvet
    Levi Dexter
    and Skeeter Truck
    … and many, many more to come!! The evenings MC will be Dave Stuckey. Show updates will be posted at the link provided, and I can be reached via email from this site too.
    best,
    Pamela
    http://hillbillydoins.com/raycondo/

  4. wigg

    Nobody put out like Ray did on stage. I stopped seeing almost everyone else for weeks after a Condo gig. Why bother? Has anyone got any live tapes? Oh man,RC will be hard to forget.

  5. ed nadorozny

    saw ray condo more than a few times. the funniest thing i remember was him acting cool then tripping on some stairs falling in his face. never met him was too chicken . anyway he will be sadly missed . oh & his group was cool. cool music that did’nt blow your ears out
    R.I.P

  6. Peter Sandmark

    Ray was tops! I was his drummer for 9 years in the Hardock Goners (85-94) and he taught me alot about music. Not in a formal way, he wasn’t like that. In fact I remember the first time we rehearsed, he said “okay, I got this song, and here’s how it goes.” and I thought he was going to run through it and show us the arrangement or whatever, but he just starts playing it, and we all just jump in, and that’s they we alwuys rehearsed, we would just play the tunes. And I thought “Wow” I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but it was just so obvious. He was simply a natural musician. We never overworked the songs, we just played them. In fact I have alot fo rehearsal tapes, and we have a half dozen or so live shows on tape. And we have a whole unreleased studio album. We are in the midst of figuring out what to do with the material. We are a bit stunned by his death, so as soon as we recover, we’ll get something released. The first thing will be a DVD of the Ray Condo and His Hardrock Goners videos, all 9 of them!! Keep rockin everyone, that’s what Ray would want!!! We will have a tribute to RAY CONDO with the Crazy Rhythm Daddies in Montreal, On May 29, at O’Hara’s bar.
    Slim Sandy

  7. Grant Shankaruk (The Surfdusters)

    I am very saddened by Ray’s passing away. Nobody has ever made me laugh as hard as he did! He was highly political, and supportive of us average people. His gigs were hot, funny and wild! Maybe this is just a movie, and I’ll see you playing again, when you get back from this tour.

  8. Paul Balanchuk

    Ray was the best at what he did ,and that was showin the world ya didn’t have to be from Texas to play some mean ol’ western swing…maybe a little rawkabilly too!
    he was an inspiration to us all and first and formost one of the greatest Canadian entertainers that ever stepped on a stage!

  9. Amber Westfall

    I will miss my uncle Ray very much. Even though they say he had no family he did leave behind a brother and sister neice and nephew and three great nephews and a great neice. We all loved him and miss him. I have great memories of my uncle Ray who has been rocking all my life. Even as a kid I would say hey uncle Ray and he would say don’t call me uncle because I don’t look that old. He was and always will be loved by us his family. Amber Westfall Ray Condo’s only neice

  10. Robert Downey

    Ray and I first met when we were 4 years old, on Percy Street, in Ottawa, Canada. There were four of us who grew up together as a ‘core’ of friends, Ray, me, Frank Doyle and Tom Butler. Occasioinally, Ray would tolerate his younger brother Billy hanging with us.
    Later on, in grade school, Ray met up with Gerry Allard. Gerry was to become the leader, song writer and phenominal lead guitar for The Peasants. I performed and recorded with Ray in The Peasants doing vocals and drumming.
    Our ‘core’ increased to include Les & Andy Tait and Jim Baskin … and together, we were known as the Centertown Boys. There were the occasional gang fights, under-age beer runs over to the Hull bars and a few “run-ins” with the law, but Ray could always find a way to talk us out of … tight’ situations. Usually, early in the evenings, we could be found at the Ottawa Boys Club making the staff’s life memorable and very entertaining.
    When Ray moved to Montreal I would visit him occasionally, but when he went to BC … we didn’t get to see much of one another. He’d always call when he had a performance date here in Ottawa and we’d get together with whoever would be brave enough from the gang … and we’d party ’till the sun came up.
    I’m truly going to miss reading about his exploits on the web and hearing from friends we both have in B.C., about what he’s been up to.
    One thing I am sure about. Somewhere in the Cosmos, there’s a whole lotta rockin’ goin’ on and their front man is Ray … and I know he’s workin’ the crowd goin’!
    I’m truly going to miss ya Tremps … save me a seat in the front section willya? And tell the guys on the door “I’m OK!”
    Love
    Robert

  11. John

    This is just terribly, terribly sad. A man with that much passion and faith in his music will be missed by many. I bet he’s gettin’ the heavens swingin’ as I type.

  12. Mike

    I’m deeply saddened about the passing of Ray. At a time when few live and recording acts give me any pleasure, I could count on Ray Condo and his band to entertain the hell out of me. I videotaped on Hi-8camcorder one of his shows in Edmonton. contact me if you want to get a cool thing to remember him by. mbkeeping@shaw.ca….Mike

  13. Carlton F.

    I just heard the news of Ray and I feel gutted. His music lives on! Sympathy to the band and his friends and family.
    Carl. Ireland.

  14. JOHN AND GABI

    It was a cold and frosty spring evening in 2001 as we, my Girl Gabi and myself, took a cab north from vancouver city to visit a swing club that we had earlier in the day seen a poster for.
    On arrival, the great awaited swing evening turned out to be pretty miserable, a bunch of trendies standing in a circle clapping hands and all that stuff.
    Lets get the hell out of here we said, before we even reached the last step in.
    Having now ended up on the pavewalk again, shortly before midnight, in one of the less welcoming areas of Vancouver I looked at my girl and asked “well, what now?”
    You know I COULDN`T BELIEVE MY EYES…Pasted on a telegraph pole was a weather worn poster reading, “RAY CONDO PLAYING LIVE AT THE VANCOUVER NAVY CLUB”
    I said to my girl, look behind you. She turned and let out a scream of joy.
    You know it didn`t take more than thirty seconds before we were sitting in a cab heading west.
    On arrival at the club we were very warmly greeted by all of the house guests at the NAVY CLUB.
    About thirty minutes past and then came the man we all knew and loved Ray Condo.
    This guy could Rock and Roll.!
    “Any requests” he said, after playing, non stop, for more than an hour.
    “Green Back Dollar” we shouted. He stopped playing and said “you ain`t from here with ba request like that”.
    “Nope” we said, having just travelled the Atlantic a few hours previous to visit the rockies of British columbia.
    Well he never did play our request but he agreed that `Green back dollar` had always been well accepted by his European gigs such as Hemsby etc.
    Well we drank ourselves in to the early morning before making the short distance by foot to our Hotel.
    We had the pleasure of meeting Ray again at the Oneida casino Rock n Roll festival in the summer of 2002. He invited us back for a party to his room where I took the pleasure of, to the amusement of Ray and friends, falling asleep in his bath tub.
    We looked so much forward to seeing Ray again at the Oneida casino in 2005.
    Sadly, this will never be.
    R.I.P. Ray
    Our very deepest sympathies to all of Rays Family and Friends.
    Our Hearts are breaking tonight at the loss of a good friend.
    John and Gabi.
    Hamburg. Germany.

  15. Tim Stone

    Ray Was and is the man with the plan! I remember the first time I herd of him when he was with his later band The Ricochets the article was in Country Standard Time! Which when you first see the album cover all you say to yourself is WOW these guys look Hoppin and rockin and that is even before I even herd the CD! I played that Cd pretty much until it was worn out! Then I saw him finally play in Boston a band called the Racketeers opened I was so luck to even get in at the time cause of my age! But what a show I can’t even explain how AWSOME it was! It was so good that one person I went with was partying so much during the show he miss almost the whole show from being sick out side! Then when the second and a third CD came out I wished to see him again and again unfortunatly I missed the next show and the last show he played in the area! RAY CONDO and his music will always be remembered by me!Also I am a DJ part time so every time I get a chance to play one of his songs at a party every time someone always comes up to me and is like WOW who is that and of course none other than RAY CONDO!!
    R.I.P you’ll be missed!

  16. David (Rockabilly snob) Lodermeier

    I remember a few years back Ray Condo and his Ricochets were playing Lee`s Liquor Lounge in downtown Minneapolis, and on this night we were under a tornado warning.I had arrived at the club early that night, so me and my date could find a table to sit at.About 35 minutes after we arrived the tornado sierens started to go off all over the city and Ray Ran up to the front door where i was standing and stuck his head out the door and asks me, do you all have this kind of weather up here all the time? I laughed and told him not to worry about the storm out side, he looked at me funny and said well i don`t know about you son, but im goin` to go down stairs and have a few drinks to calm my nerves. Ray said would you like to join me and my band before we go on? So i ask can cindy join us shes my date? He`s like do ya` know any of these gals here that likes to party? Well i think all the gal`s here would love to party with you!!! So anyways me and my date go down stairs with RAy and he intruduces us to the band and i remember Pete Turland his bass player inviting me and cindy to stay at his place up in Vancoover the next time we are up there. He hands me there booking card with his phone # and address on the back and i look at cindy and im like wow what a super cool guy!!Any ways the show was grate they rocked the place and it was packed even with the storms out side. Ray Condo and his band was a class act . I will miss his shows very much and Ronnie Dawson, you guys were the SHIT!!!! R.I.P. BOYS

  17. pete turland

    i missed old rays wake and funeral because i was on the road with my band . i was happy to see the amount of poeple that ray touched through his music. to everybody who ever saw the band i can only say tht i felt the same as you . to play with ray ,jimmy and stephen and steve was such a good musical venture that i cant imagine that happening again to the level we made it to . ray was one of a kind and i miss him. hope we all listen to his albums and smile the way i do allthe bast pete turland

  18. Greg Skulmoski

    GBNF
    I continue to listen to Ray and company’s music and enjoy the memories of seeing them live and speaking to Ray on different occasions. Thank you for the great music, thank you for the wonderful night outs, thank you for music I will enjoy for many, many years, and share with my young daughter.
    Greg Skulmoski (in Abu Dhabi, formerly from Moose Jaw)

  19. mike h

    I just stumbled on the bad news…searchen for a Ray Condo tour to come to the East. I saw Ray a few times, but the one that stands out was at the ‘Twist and Shout’ around 1998. It was a Wednesday night, and only about 15 cats at the show, but the way Ray and his Ricochetts played you would have thought there were a thousand at the show. Ray and the boys spent their breaks (3 sets) talkin and drinkin with the ‘crowd’. Coolest Hep Cats I ever met. Man, what a lost! We’ll miss you Ray!

  20. Greg Swanholm

    I recently learned that one of my blood heros Ray Condo had passed away. I was at the Rythym Room in Phoenix, AZ in September of 05 when I heard this news. That was the last place I saw him alive. I cried like a dam baby in front of everyone. There was no holding back that tide. Ray did some shows with us out here in AZ, at the Rockin Horse and at the Sail Inn. I was immediately astonished at this guy and his band (Jimmy Roy, if you read this I hope you are well….) Ray, I am deeply saddened because I will never again see you put down the business like no one living or dead ever quite did. I love you.

  21. Shawna Archibald

    I knew Ray back in the late 70’s when he and my brother were playing Vancouver as Secret V’s. Many late nights (early mornings) at Binos drinking coffee (just coffee and more coffee, no money for anything else). My friends and I would make treks to Vancouver from Oregon in her ’41 Chevy to spend weekends listening to the band at the Smilin Buddah. (we were so proud to say we were on the “guest list”)
    The V’s made a road trip down to Oregon to play and wound up doing a show at the Deluxe Tavern in McMinnville just for fun. The audience was a mix of local cowboys at the bar, family and friends. Between V sets, my future husband, Marc, and the band played Hank Williams and Jimmy Rodgers tunes. A great night.Ray may have seemed like a wildman even then, but I remember a night at the Buddah after their show..sitting at a table having a drink with Bruce and Ray..I was only 18 and completely full of myself..I threw a drink at a fellow who called himself “Mad Dog”. Both Bruce and Ray looked at me with complete horror on their faces, got up and hustled us right out of the club, NOT interested in that kind of action, giving me a big lecture on “what were you THINKING?!! What if we’d had to FIGHT that guy??!!!”
    The Railway Club was a swinging place even then. I remember waking up there the morning Mt St Helens blew after a very memorable night.
    So sad to hear of Ray’s death.

  22. Shawna Archibald

    correction: not the Railway Club..that place was called CitySpace..was it on Railway St? A bunch of bands were using it for practice space, Ray was living there, and it had an open area where music was performed.

  23. Pottlukk

    I saw Ray Condo & His Ricochets on October 24, 1998 at The Roxy in Boston when they were the opening act for The Squirrel Nut Zippers.
    He and his band put on a fantastic show. You could see and hear the passion in his performance. This wasn’t a guy just going through the motions. It was the only time I saw him live, but it’s a show I will always remember.
    Soon after that I went out and bought “Door to Door Maniac”, at which point I was officially hooked.
    Thanks for some great music Ray, and may you rest in peace.

  24. Big Mark C

    Sadly we all discovered Ray and his music too late.
    We love him and I have now collected all his album releases.
    We keep his music well and truly alive in my own band covering his versions of Something I said,Feeling no pain and Done Gone Crazy.
    RIP Ray.

  25. Juan Duque

    I was living in New Orleans in the late 90s, i walked into a sidetown club and saw some elders sitting on some sidetables. Tis was the Ricochets, and this was one of my favorite, most intimate-yet-respectufl concerts i have seen in my life.
    I envy Ray, as i know he enjoyed his life to his fullest, as i aim to. I also feel personal sorrow, as i knOw that we as friends would have had a direct connection, as pals, as lovers of music, as people. He was never the most famous, yet he touched countless souls. Swing it borother, swing.

  26. Amber Westfall

    They that our loved ones legacies are passed down through the generations. My uncle Ray never had children but I did four sons. My older sons grew up knowing they had a rocking uncle. When my uncle passed away Slim Sandy sent me his memorial cd. It sat around for a while I put it up as a display along with my deceased husbands items. One day I heard this rocking coming out of my youngest son Samson’s room. I said is that uncle Ray and he smiled and with pride said I love him. Thats been over a year now and just would like to say to all my uncles fans that his nephew whom he never met rocks and rolls with him everyday and with a weird irony is starting to sound like him. Miss you Uncle Ray but I smile everytime I hear
    Samson singing along with you. I am very proud of you and always will be. Love your only neice Amber

  27. Pete Zear

    I’m 62,I’ve seen a lot of acts,I’m only recently online,I check out rockabilly radio (we get about twelve hours a year in England),I hear a lot of great records by mostly one-shot artists,I hear a couple of Ray Condo tracks and I look for stuff on YouTube.I hear the bad news.I read the tributes above and I know it,this man was a star.I also know that years from now others will be making the same discovery.Some of them might be older than me.

  28. Richard Fuller

    I heard about Ray’s death during a backyard BBQ I was having at our home. The guy who told me was quite aware of Canadian indie/punk band history and had happened to accompany a friend of my wife… funny, how these things happen…
    I had lost touch of Bruce, Ray and Kenny for several years but the news just stunned me. It brought back many warm memories.
    I was the guitar player with the Secret-V’s. Bruce Archibald and myself started the band when we were in art school (Emily Carr College on Granville Island). I knew Ray before, from mutual friends of ours. He was also attending the same art school for a time. We needed a bass player so I thought I’d ask Ray to join the band. He didn’t really play bass but was willing to pick it up. After Ray joined we got Kenny, who was much younger and not an art student, to play drums. Sadly, Kenny has passed away too – he was a good drummer and a fine fellow – I liked him.
    It was an exciting time for music in Vancouver and we had some great times together. Ray was such a likeable guy – that quick smile and great sense of humour (though, you had to watch him around girlfriends!). He was ‘open’ in an artistic sense – he had lots of raw talent. In fact, he designed the first record cover for the Secret V’s. I was happy that he continued to play and grow musically after the band broke up those many years ago. I was very sad to hear he passed away. He is warmly remembered.
    Richard

  29. roy

    Loved Ray’s music since hearing him on KCRW in Santa Monica back in the 90s. Had a chance to see him when living in TX. He was passing through to New Orleans and played a small club in route.
    The place was vacant (publicity prob..or quick booking)…But he put on a show as if 1000 people were there..so suprised, it was amazing (and dance floor had space!!) talked with him before..seemed like the nicest guy youd ever wanna meet. Were hoping he could play our weding some day. Then a few years later heard he past. What a loss. A great performer, great fellow, …I wish only the best to his friends and family,
    He lives forever in our jukebox and hearts.
    thanks,
    r

  30. Ian Sane

    I first met Ray in the early 80’s in MTL and we became roomates.He started The Hardrock Goners and i remember going to his gigs on wintery nights the first months of the band and sometimes there would be me and 5 others in the crowd.But what i loved about Ray is that he ALWAYS gave it his all,no matter how many he was playing for.We were friends 20 plus yrs and now that over 7yrs have passed since Ray left us,i miss him still and have an ache in my heart when watching old clips on youtube.He was like a brother to me and i miss him deeply.See you again someday Ray! Ian Sane[Toronto,July 2011]

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