Billy Bryans, the Juno Award-winning drummer and producer who co-founded the Canadian cross-cultural pop group the Parachute Club and was considered a pioneer of world music in Canada, has died.
The Montreal native died Monday in Toronto after a long battle with cancer, said a news release issued on behalf of his extended family. He was 63.
In a career spanning four decades, Bryans was also a promoter and DJ, and co-wrote the Parachute Club's Juno-winning 1983 hit Rise Up.
In the ‘60s in Quebec, Bryans played with the beat group MG & the Escorts before moving to Toronto, where he got his start performing in new wave acts, including the Government.
It was then that he also started producing for groups including rockabilly outfit the Bop Cats, the jazz-jug revivalists the Original Sloth Band, and Downchild Blues Band.
After joining Lorraine Segato's feminist rock band Mama Quilla II, the two formed the soca/reggae/rock outfit V and then the Parachute Club, which won four Junos.
A lover of world music, particularly Latin, Bryans helped to launch the worldbeat category at the Junos and brought top Cuban acts to Canada. He also played with various world-music groups and produced albums in the genre, including the 1992 Juno-winning The Gathering, which was said to be the first compilation of Canadian global sounds.
A memorial honouring Bryans is being planned.