Published Jan 21, 2010Author, musician and screenwriter Paul Quarrington, who is most famous for his classic rock'n'roll novel Whale Music, died today (January 21) at the age of 56. After being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer last year, he passed away peacefully at his Toronto, ON home in the company of his family and friends.
According to a post on Quarrington's website, "It is comforting to know that he didn't suffer; he was calm and quiet, holding hands with those who were closest to him."
Quarrington was a multi-talented writer who was a central figure in the Toronto arts community. He first rose to prominence in the late '70s, and in 1980, he and songwriting partner Martin Worthy scored a No. 1 single with the Daniel Lanois-produced "Baby and the Blues." His musical collaboration with Worthy continued up until his death, as the two played together in the band Porkbelly Futures, most recently releasing a self-titled album in 2008.
His fame as a writer peaked in the late '80s with the back-to-back releases of King Leary (1987) and Whale Music (1989). Both novels received numerous accolades upon their release, with Whale Music winning the Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction in 1989. At the time, Penthouse also called Whale Music "the best novel written about rock'n'roll." Whale Music, which told the tale of a Brian Wilson-esque recluse, was turned into a feature-length film in 1994, and was included in Exclaim!'s recent list of Top Ten Rock Movies.
The novels remain acclaimed to this day, as King Leary won CBC Radio One's Canada Reads competition in 2008.
Throughout his life, Quarrington published 34 books, as well as numerous plays and screenplays. In 2004, he was nominated for a Gemini Award after penning an episode of Due South. In 2009, the Writers' Trust of Canada honoured Quarrington with the Matt Cohen Prize, a $20,000 award that "recognizes a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer."
At the time of his death, Quarrington was working on a memoir titled Cigar Box Banjo.