Calgary Musician Marvin Kee Has Died

He was onstage at JUNOfest just days before his death

Photo via Marvin Kee on Facebook

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 16, 2023

Marvin "The Fly" Kee — a longtime staple of the Calgary music community, known for his work in bands like the Flytrap, Sargeant X Comrade, the High Rollers, the Ex-Boyfriends, the Torchettes, Deicha & the Vududes, La Mosca and more over multiple decades — has suddenly died. He was 53.

No cause of death has been given, but CKUA Radio producer Lisa Wilton tells Exclaim! that he collapsed due to a heart issue and was subsequently removed from life support on Monday (March 13). According to Wilton and Leah McCartney, a local musician, teacher and longtime friend of Kee's, some of his Torchettes bandmates were present by his bedside in the ICU and sang to him one last time.

Kee was diagnosed with tonsil cancer (Tonsil Carcinoma) in 2021. According to a GoFundMe campaign put together by his sisters Sonia, Paulina and Linda, his prognosis took a turn for the worse around a year ago when doctors discovered a tumour behind his left eye and determined that the cancer had also spread to his lungs.

Nonetheless, the musician continued performing. He was onstage as recently as last Friday (March 10) at Edmonton's Starlite Room with Sargeant X Comrade for JUNOfest

Music Mile YYC also confirmed the news of Kee's death on Facebook on Tuesday (March 14),.

In 2016, Kee was honoured with a Calgary White Hat for his contribution to the city's culture — something continually apparent from the flood of tributes posted on his Facebook page since the news of his passing broke.

"Marvin was definitely the thread that knit together multiple different facets of the Calgary music scene and so the devastation is widespread around here," McCartney tells Exclaim! in an email. "Over the years, Marvin played in so many different bands across so many different genres that it is hard to even keep track. Funk, jazz, soul, punk, country, flamenco — you name it."

McCartney continued, "Marvin was a sublime guitar and bass player and so highly skilled that he could sit in and figure out any band's material super quickly," explaining that his diagnosis with a rare and aggressive form of cancer only dialled his drive to make music up to 11. "'It's the music that keeps me alive,' he would say," she recalls. "'It's my therapy.'"

Kee's former bandmate Scott Morin said in an email to Exclaim! that the majority of his efforts were going toward an expansive Flytrap album project. "It was pretty much all we talked about and it meant so much to Marvin to get this project out to the world," Morin explained. "Our goal now, is that his friends in the arts community will be able to help complete this project with what has been recorded, and see this music released."

This is a developing story.

Latest Coverage