Vancouver Sun

Sinclair was a musician’s musician


Guitarist David Sinclair wasn’t a household name. But he quietly put together one of the most impressive resumes in Canadian music.

Some might recall him as the guitarist and singer in 1980s hitmakers Straight Lines and Body Electric. But he also had long stints with Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang, played on a staggering number of recording sessions and performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Sinclair died Dec. 18 at his Burnaby home after a battle with cancer. He was 69. A celebratio­n of life will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday at St. Francis de Sales School, 6656 Balmoral St. in Burnaby.

David Walter Sinclair was born in Vancouver, grew up in Kitsilano and became a gigging musician as a teen. “He started playing in clubs when he was really, really young, like when he shouldn’t have been there — the old strip clubs and stuff in the Downtown Eastside,” said his wife Christine. “I think he was about 16 when he started doing that.”

“I think the first time I worked with him was when he auditioned as a singer for the Let’s Go show in the late ’60s,” said his longtime cohort Bob Buckley. “He became a regular singer on the show for a year or two, back in the days when the CBC had money. Then he had his band Sunshyne and I had my band Spring.”

Sunshyne’s lineup also contained the late producer Bruce Fairbairn and legendary songwriter Jim Vallance. “I met David in the summer of 1973 when I joined Sunshyne, a jazz-rock-Dixieland fusion band,” Vallance said via email. “You had to play in any style to be in that band, and no one was more qualified than David. He was a very discipline­d musician.

“He’d practise hours every day, lighting-fast scales up and down the fretboard. He made it look easy, but that was deceptive, because he worked hard at being a good player.

“The other deceptive thing about David was his quiet demeanour. The truth is, he had a defiant streak. He wasn’t afraid to question authority.”

Sunshyne evolved into Prism, but by that point Sinclair had left, although he played on several Prism albums.

Sinclair and Buckley then formed Straight Lines, which scored several Canadian hits, including Letting Go.

They linked up with former Trooper keyboard player Frank Ludwig in Body Electric, but when the group’s label folded in the late ’80s, the band soon followed. So Sinclair became one of the top session musicians in Canada.

A partial list of the acts he recorded with includes McLachlan, Michael Buble, Daniel Pewter, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bryan Adams, Rita MacNeil, Paul Janz, Valdy, Susan Jacks, Terry Jacks, the Irish Rovers, Gary Fjellgaard and Barry Greenfield.

“David was perfectly doing solo acoustic guitar or doing raging, turned-up-to-10 heavy metal guitar, and everything in between,” said Buckley.

“I’ve done jazz gigs with him, and probably several hundred recording sessions, television shows and things like that. Whatever you would call him to do, he could figure out how to do it. He could play in any style, instantly. It was pretty amazing.”

Besides being a stellar player, Sinclair had the rare ability to get along with everyone.

“Everybody wanted to work with him,” said Buckley. “In all the time I knew him, I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad word about anyone.

“Seriously. We toured and did stuff in some pretty horrible situations, we played some pretty horrible gigs and he was always upbeat about it — he was amazing that way.”

No matter how successful his career was, he always played smaller shows with smaller acts.

“Jane (Mortifee) said she was always amazed that a world-class musician (like him) would come and do these little gigs with her,” said Christine Sinclair.

“But he loved it, that’s what he loved to do.”

He leaves his wife, children Taryn, Jaime- Gregg and Zachary, as well as two grandchild­ren.

 ?? THE SINCLAIR FAMILY ?? Guitarist David Sinclair, who died Dec. 18 at 69, had stints with such acts as Prism, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang.
THE SINCLAIR FAMILY Guitarist David Sinclair, who died Dec. 18 at 69, had stints with such acts as Prism, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada