In 1978, Toronto band Red Rider added a new lead singer-songwriter. Nine years later the band had accumulated 11 Juno nominations and a win for Group of the Year, but it wasn’t until his solo release of “Life Is a Highway” and the album Mad Mad World – one of three Canadian albums ever to reach diamond status (over one million sold) – that Tom Cochrane ascended from what he called “manageable success” to superstardom.
The Manitoban-born Cochrane moved to Ontario during his formative years when at age 11 his bought his first guitar with money he made from selling a train set. By the 1970s he was plying his trade in coffee houses, pubs, and rough neck bars while working as a cab driver and as a labourer on shipping docks. A stint in Los Angeles was short-lived as he found his way back to Toronto. The journey to Red Rider and ultimately his solo success was paved on character building experiences along the way and as the accolades began to accrue so did the size of the crowds. “The early days never leave you though, they get etched on your soul like a tattoo.”
Being part of Canada’s collective consciousness for decades, Cochrane is a recipient of eight Juno Awards, is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, the Walk of Fame, an Officer of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, former Honorary Air Force Colonel in the 409 squadron, has an honorary doctorate from Brandon University, is a recent Diamond Jubilee award, has many songwriter awards from SOCAN, CAPAC and ASCAP, and a Grammy nomination. Quite the resume. However as he puts it, “The biggest reward though is when someone comes up and says this song or that song got me through some tough times or was part of the best times in my life, or when I fell in love that was our song.”
Throughout his career Tom has thrown his support behind a wide range of worthy causes, has traveled the world, been to Africa nine times and Asia twice. He helped spearhead the Canada for Asia initiative, entertained Canadian troops in Afghanistan, raised money for Parkinson’s research, has performed at Live 8, in Tears Are Not Enough, and Young Artists for Haiti. several other causes.
A down to earth Canadian prairie boy at heart from Lynn Lake Manitoba, who came of age and started playing music in the west end of Toronto, Tom now divides his time between the tour bus, the city, and his beloved studio/retreat “Layastone” on the shores of Georgian Bay.
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