Sam ‘the Record Man’ Sniderman dies at 92

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT -

TORONTO — Sam Sniderman, the charis­matic founder of the leg­endary Sam the Record Man mu­sic store whose un­wa­ver­ing sup­port for Cana­dian per­form­ers helped shape the coun­try’s mu­si­cal land­scape, has died. He was 92. His fam­ily said Sniderman died peace­fully in his sleep Sun­day, sur­rounded by loved ones, in Toronto.

The pro­lific busi­ness­man held on to his trade­mark stub­born­ness and fierce in­de­pen­dence — the very traits that helped pro­pel his mu­sic em­pire — un­til the end, his son Ja­son said.

“He never re­ally re­tired, he was al­ways in­ter­ested in what was go­ing on,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

“He be­lieved in Cana­dian mu­sic be­cause it was some­thing that spoke to him from inside,” he said.

“Be­cause his be­lief in Cana­dian mu­sic was so strong, he was tire­less in how he pur­sued its suc­cess and I think that’s his true legacy.”

Sniderman opened his flag­ship store on Toronto’s Yonge Street in 1959.

It grew into a haven for artists and mu­sic lovers of all stripes, build­ing a par­tic­u­larly loyal cus­tomer base and a knowl­edge­able staff that could hold their own against any mu­sic fan that walked through the door.

The iconic store with its huge flash­ing red neon record signs closed in 2007, seven years af­ter he of­fi­cially re­tired.

It was a dif­fi­cult time for Sniderman, who main­tained a steady pres­ence at the beloved fam­ily busi­ness, said Ja­son Sniderman, who grew up in the store and took over its op­er­a­tions with his brother Bobby.

“He was al­ways re­ally sad about it,” and strug­gled to come to terms with the sud­den shift to­ward dig­i­tal mu­sic, which ul­ti­mately led to the store’s col­lapse, he said.

A ma­jor pro­moter of Cana­dian mu­sic, Sniderman was a Mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada, an in­ductee of the Cana­dian Mu­sic In­dus­try Hall of Fame and the Cana­dian Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame. He also re­ceived a Gover­nor Gen­eral’s award and hon­orary doc­tor­ates from Ry­er­son Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Known widely as Sam the Record Man, Sniderman and his brother, Sid opened a small store on Col­lege Street in Toronto in 1937 and to­gether they built a chain of Sam the Record Man stores that spanned the coun­try, in­clud­ing two stores in Win­nipeg.

The fam­ily says a ser­vice will be held Tues­day and a memo­rial ser­vice will be held next month.

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