Above-ardent Fan, Collector and Champion of Good Music
(and Credit Risk Analyst for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce by day)
born April 6, 1952, Leamington Spa, England
died June 9, 2011, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Like so many others around the world, my first-ever words with Imants Krumins were exchanged beneath the glorious din of an up-and-coming band belting out a brand new song at one of their very first shows. Imants would be there, as close to the stage as possible, not only encouraging his latest discovery but yelling heartfelt praises about and for them towards all within ear- and arm-shot.
But I was to learn this was more than just another night out for Imants. This was a passion. His passion. And whatever the time, place, or style of music being presented on any given night, he made sure it would soon enough become YOUR passion as well.
Personally speaking, I had decided to start a rock and roll magazine out of my parents’ basement in 1976. But finding little of musical value at that time worthy of expending precious typeface on, I was more than thankful Imants came my way at this precise moment. Introductions quickly made, he led me outside to his car, placed into my hands two rare, newly imported records from amongst a hundred such gems he always carried in its trunk… and I owe the man at least one of my careers in helping me become the very first Canadian to ever write about The Saints or Nick Lowe.
That car, not to mention spirit and enthusiasm of Imants’ went on to play an incalculable role in kick-starting and even shaping what soon became known as the Canadian punk and/or indie rock movement. No, Imants never played an instrument or wrote a song himself that I’m aware of (though he could always be relied upon to sing along with Metal Machine Music in a way Lou Reed should be more than envious of). Yet with just the simple act of being the first to drive members and fans of Teenage Head, Simply Saucer and the Forgotten Rebels out of their hometown Hamilton and in to the nascent Toronto alt. music scene, facilitating the socio-musical cross-pollination which resulted, he made a deeper and more lasting impression than Imants the mere performer, writer, or record company exec ever could have.
By the late Seventies – and it pains me to say in a way our www’d generation now takes for granted – Imants’ one-man campaign to connect the best music with the best people turned truly global as his tall, impressive frame could now be spotted outside a Kinks concert in Buffalo, jetting to the UK to scour Portobello Road for yet more DIY vinyl, or accompanying yours truly one adventurous afternoon to the ultra-clandestine San Francisco offices of Ralph Records to find out, once and for all, just who The Residents really were.
Amazingly, as many of his contemporaries unplugged, settled down and for some reason began opting for eight hours’ sleep per night, the Imants of Century 21 was still making regular jaunts to investigate the h-core rock clubs of Japan, for instance, then embracing the blogosphere to report on his latest discoveries in a way he could scarcely have imagined at a Viletones show circa 1977. In fact, the last time I saw the man was over dinner at a reunion concert for The “Bird is the Word” Trashmen at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey. And, ever the gentleman, I had to coax him to approach the merch table afterwards in order to collect his very own seven-inch commemorative vinyl of the night. He didn’t want to “bother” the band, you see.
His was always a gentlemanly, soft-spoken and generous existence. But I know I am far from alone in knowing that because of the man and the inspiration of Imants Krumins my record collection – to say nothing of my life as a whole – is a lot, lot bigger, better, and louder for having encountered him.