- Profession: Singer-songwriter
- The vehicle: 2012 BMW X3
- Age: 58
- Hometown: Toronto
- Released his first self-titled album in 1975 with the Canadian hit single, You Make Me Want to Be
- Recorded his 14th album, Intimate, in 2010
- Prostate cancer survivor
- Solo concert dates include London, Ont. (Sept. 22), Regina (Oct. 6), Wolfville, N.S. (Dec. 1)
- Performs with John McDermott at a benefit fundraiser for Prostrate Cancer Research at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Nov. 14
- Performs with Marc Jordan and Jane Siberry on Nov. 16 at The Royal Conservatory in Toronto
Canadian singing legend Dan Hill made his mark on the charts back in 1978 with the ballad Sometimes When We Touch. It was an international hit, selling more than a million copies and hitting No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Other hit songs followed such as Can’t We Try and Never Thought (That I Could Love).
Hill is still going strong with a hectic schedule of composing songs and touring. To get to his gigs, he drives a 2012 BMW X3.
Why did you buy a BMW X3?
I do a lot of performing and I throw a lot of musical equipment into it – from keyboards and guitars to music stands and books.
It’s good to have the space because it seems like I’m always driving to some show or another.
Why did you go with a BMW X3 instead of a Mercedes-Benz GLK or Audi Q5?
In 1978 when I first moved into the house I’m living in now in the Beach area of Toronto, my oldest friend, Don, moved in with me. Because I was on the road so much I needed someone to take car of the house. I opened up my bank account to him so he could pay all the household bills – of course, this could only happen in the 70s when you’re in your early 20s and cavalier.
One day, we were walking down the street and there was a BMW dealership. I said, in passing, ‘That looks like it would be a nice car to have.’ Then I left town and did some shows and came back and a BMW was sitting in my driveway.
I said to my friend, ‘That’s a nice BMW – whose is it?’ He says, ‘It’s yours. I bought it out of your bank account. You were too cheap to ever buy one yourself.’
That was my first introduction to BMWs in 1978 when my friend bought it for me as a surprise with my money. And ever since then, I’ve stuck to BMWs.
How much did it cost?
I think back then a BMW cost $14,000.
I said to my friend, ‘You mean to tell me you took $14,000 out of my bank account without asking me and bought me this BMW? That takes a lot of nerve.’ He said, ‘It’s actually $15,000 because I outfitted it with the best sound system you could get for another $1,000.”
What model was it?
It was one of those small 3-Series.
It had problems starting sometimes in the winter. Back then, the BMWs weren’t as used to the cold weather in Toronto as they are now. It was very temperamental when it came to cold weather. So I was always having nightmares in the winter, but I still stuck by BMWs since then.
Was this the car you got after Sometimes When We Touch?
Yes. It came out in ’77-78. I was on the road about 300 days a year. I was single so I had to have someone help me pay the bills every few weeks.
What other Bimmers have you owned?
We stuck to the same kind and then my wife bought a BMW convertible, a small, red flashy convertible with two doors which scandalized our entire street. It was highly improper behaviour, which of course made her even more excited about having it.
Then I got the big BMW X5 and I didn’t like it. It was just too big and I didn’t feel comfortable driving it. It was taking up too much room and I was afraid I was going to smash into something.
So I went to the smaller one, the X3. It’s the perfect car because it’s big enough to throw a bunch of equipment in, but not so big that I feel like I’m going to be careening off the road.
It’s interesting how our culture has changed. Back in 1978 when I had a BMW people would go up to me and say, ‘Congratulations.’ I’d say, ‘What have I done?’ It’s for the BMW. Now, it would be like having a Bentley.
It was such a big deal back then to have a BMW. People would stop and be stupefied whereas now no one would think twice about a BMW.
Do you like driving?
I’m highly distractable and I have too many things on my mind very often. When I’m driving in the city, it drives me so crazy – the city traffic and the parking – I just take cabs everywhere.
I’m distractable – I like punching the radio back and forth, hitting it so hard that I wear out the buttons, switching CDs, checking out songs, listening to productions, picking up hitchhikers – all the things you shouldn’t be doing.
I don’t talk on cellphones – I don’t really even have a cellphone. I don’t even know how to text. Because everyone else is so into all that stuff, I feel that the confluence of a lot more cars, a lot more bicycles, more cellphones and texting makes driving in Toronto somewhat of a nightmarish experience for me. I prefer just taking a cab – then I don’t have to worry about doing something stupid.
I only drive it when I have to do shows.
Have you had any accidents or speeding tickets over the years?
I’ve been driving since I was 16 and I’m 58 now. I’ve probably had two speeding tickets in that time.
I did have one bad accident up north near Deerhurst. I was driving back in the winter on these snowy roads and these two snowmobilers were racing up a hill and they weren’t looking so they caught me as I was going up the other side of the hill and they smashed into me.
That was pretty traumatic. They weren’t badly injured, but it was still horrifying.
What was your first car?
The first car I ever had was a [Ford] Maverick.
People would stop me in the street, ‘What the hell are you driving that for? You have a song on the radio you need to step it up.’ But I never really paid attention to that kind of stuff. But when my friend bought me the BMW I was hooked.
This interview has been edited and condensed.