City guitarist dies

CAM FORTEMS / Kamloops Daily News
December 9, 2012 01:00 AM

Blues guitarist Tony Robertson died on Friday due to complications from a blood disorder.

A lifelong blues guitarist and purist who was a fixture on the Vancouver and Kamloops music scenes died Friday.

Tony Robertson, 62, died from complications of a blood disorder, friends said Sunday.

"He's just one of those guys who played with just about everyone," said local musician and radio personality Henry Small.

"Everyone loved him. He was a gentleman and loved R&B and blues - when it was popular and when it wasn't."

Robertson headed local band Vaqueros, recorded recently with Small's band and toured extensively with Long John Baldry two decades ago.

He grew up on the South Shore, but spent the majority of his professional career in Vancouver, including as a soundman and booking agent at the Yale Hotel, a staple in Vancouver's blues music scene.

His legacy also includes a Kamloops nightclub, Blue Grotto, which grew out of his own volunteer-based Blues Underground Network (BUN) in Kamloops that booked touring acts in venues across the city. Eventually, it found a permanent home at Blue Grotto.

Robertson played with blues icon Baldry throughout the '90s, including touring in Europe.

"I don't think there's anyone from Vancouver in that era who didn't play with him at one time," Small said.

Robertson moved back to Kamloops a decade ago, where he invigorated blues rock and worked tirelessly playing and booking acts.

Friend Rod Duncan said Robertson, a longtime vegetarian, never succumbed to the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, despite his associates and years in the business.

"He was such a sweet guy," Duncan said. "He had an effect on people, not just his music but his personality."

A musical benefit in memory of Robertson is set for Dec. 27, 6 p.m., at the Fan Club in Vancouver. A memorial party will is scheduled for Pritchard on the May long weekend next year.

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