(Allister shares his memories of Lloyd MacHardy, singer/songwriter and SongStudio alumnus, on behalf of the entire SongStudio team)
Lloyd came to be in my life through the gift of his music, but that was only the beginning. I came to know a gentle, funny, beautiful and sometimes mischievous soul, a man who would offer anything to help a friend, or even a stranger in need.
Lloyd loved the spotlight, whether it was telling a fantastic story or sharing a song. His first trip to the Humber summer songwriting workshop (SongStudio in its early days) in Toronto, back in 2007, landed him a showcase performance spot on-stage at Hugh’s Room, an honour which filled his eyes with boyish wonder, and as he later told me, “made my whole year”. We met long after a lifetime of varied jobs had carried him across miles of Canadian and American landscapes and into the lives of so many people, but I felt as if these careers had only led him to his ultimate calling as a troubadour singer/songwriter. My long-distance friendship with Lloyd lasted nearly ten years, during which he would recount stories of his many musical adventures across Canada and the United States
Lloyd and I recorded his song “Won’t You Help Me, Dr. Phil” at the 2008 Humber summer songwriting workshop. Lloyd sang and strummed in his signature guitar style, to which I added the other instruments and sang harmonies. It was a terrific session with lots of laughs, all starting with a fun and endearing song which could have only come from Lloyd. That song and that recording went on to become his calling card at appearances across Canada and the United States, and Lloyd would always be excited to call me with news of each festival booking and contest success. From Nova Scotia through to Alberta, from New York to Nashville, with regular stops at festivals in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California, Lloyd astounded me with his perseverance and enthusiasm. He counted among his fans promoter Sid Bernstein (who brought the Beatles to North America), drummer Vini Lopez (Bruce Springsteen and others), and actor/producer Lacy Darryl Phillips, plus that tiny dog in Pictou, Nova Scotia who became overly friendly with Lloyd’s leg during a 2010 live performance of “Dr. Phil”.
“Won’t You Help Me, Dr. Phil” went on to be licensed and distributed on industry compilation CD’s and public sales numbering over 11,000 compact discs and over 600,000 digital downloads, but with Lloyd’s attitude and personality, that only seemed natural. To consider that Lloyd’s musical career was just gaining momentum as he entered his seventies, I wish I had also been able to see him tackle those adventures he enjoyed BEFORE retirement. In his own words, though, he was just “finally getting down to spreading the ‘agony’ around”.
Lloyd signed every correspondence to me in the same way: “all the best life has to offer”. Thank you, my friend, and Godspeed.