Won’t You Stand By Me ? And They Did

John Long.jpg

Submitted by Sandy Graham

Photo Credits: Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera "The Picture Taker"

October 20, 2016 was a night to remember. John Long, of Downtown Towing and Promotions holds a yearly event to remember his two brothers, Clifford and Gary who passed within days of each from cancer. Sadly, this year he added his lifelong friend to the list. A man he considered to be his other brother, Bobby Curtola. Teen heartthrob Curtola succumbed to a heart attack on June 4, 2016. The event this year was held at the Rock Pile and the turnout was in honour to the ones we have lost.

Every now and then a magical musical moment is forever etched in history and this night was one of those moments. The event was hosted by the talented Danny Marks who also brought along his bandmates, Leon Stevenson (drums and vocals) and Rodney St. Armant. (bass and vocals). A poignant choice as Curtola was the one who gave Danny Marks the Cashbox Canada Legacy Award last year.

The Danny Marks BandThe Danny Marks Band

Add another talented musician Sam Taylor brought the East End Love musicians to give a blues/rock edge to the night, and had guests Jerome Godboo and Toney Springer join them in a one hour set that had the audience loving it. (Curtola actually showed up at a Sam Taylor gig and sat in as well)

Danny MarksDanny MarksThe highlight of the night was when the man himself, John Long got up and did a set of legendary rock ‘n’ roll songs with the Danny Marks Band, highlighted by Curtola songs like Three Rows Over and the signature tune, Fortune Teller. What was always a lovely touch was that the background vocals were provided by Kimberely Wetmore, who was one of Bobby’s backup singers on tour last December and what we know now was his very last soft seat theatre show. John Long’s voice blended beautifully with Kimberley and it was a magnetic performance to watch. Bobby would be proud and I am sure he was listening in to keep everyone on track.

The finale included many guests who had showed up that evening who joined John Long in a soothing rendition of a song that helped heal the heart. The song ‘Stand By Me’ was always Curtola’s last song, so it was fitting that Long choose it to perform with his siblings and musical family that also included Alex Fisher, Donna Flynn, Don Graham and Spider Jones. Also joining them on stage was Blue Jay Alumni Kelly Gruber, a close friend of the Long brothers.

The audience was filled with the Long family, who travelled to be with John on this legendary night and to watch him sing his best performance yet. Also in attendance were ‘Bobby’s Girls’ – the faithful fan club of Curtola who now have become part of our musical family. The owners of ‘Love Me Tender’ a beach located steakhouse, came all the way just to be with us. Friends and family filled the room.

Stand By Me FinaleStand By Me Finale

I had mentioned to Sam Taylor that one of John Long’s favourite songs was ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ which John’s Dad and brothers both loved to sing. Taylor closed out the live performance part of the evening by offering an a cappella version of the old Frankie Laine song (made even more famous by Ray Charles) and sang it personally to John as he sat in the front of the stage.

A night of tears, music and love was apparent to all of this that attended this event. New memories were made while we remembered the old memories. Your Mum would be proud John Long and your brothers and sister were smiling from Heaven.

The Long Siblings…Top Left – Wayne Long; L-R Gail Traynor, Sharon Frederickson, Janet Long & John LongThe Long Siblings…Top Left – Wayne Long; L-R Gail Traynor, Sharon Frederickson, Janet Long & John Long