TORONTO – Dolores Claman, the woman behind the catchy tune that introduced CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada”, has died aged 94.
Claman’s daughter Madeleine Morris said on Saturday her mother died in Spain this week, around two years after being diagnosed with dementia.
“She had a good old age and had an amazing life,” Morris told The Canadian Press.
Claman was born in Vancouver and raised with an opera singer for a mother. She graduated from high school at 16 and then trained as a concert pianist at the Juilliard School in New York City, Morris said.
At Juilliard, Claman decided she preferred to be a songwriter and developed a love for jazz, Morris recalls.
After graduation and the end of World War II, her mother moved to England and met and married Richard Morris.
They then moved to Toronto and co-wrote thousands of jingles, including “A Place To Stand” with its popular “Ontari-ari-ari-o” lyrics for the 1967 Expo.
Claman was working for Maclaren Advertising in 1968 when she was hired to write the theme song that opened CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” shows.
She didn’t expect the song, often referred to as Canada’s second anthem, to be so successful and said it wasn’t until at least 10 years after the song’s debut that she really got it. realized its popularity.
“Some of my son’s friends at school thought I was amazing. They came to see me. And it just got more and more popular,” Claman told The Canadian Press in 2016.
“I wanted my name on it because I was watching hockey and at the end they say ‘Lighting by’ and ‘best boy’. I called CBC and wrote to someone (over there). They didn’t want to give it to me. They didn’t see why. ”
She eventually negotiated the credit before the license rights to the beloved song were sold to CTV in 2008, when Claman and the music agency representing her were unable to negotiate a deal with CBC.
Claman was happy with the song, but the attention it garnered seemed to surprise her, Morris said.
“She was pretty dumbfounded when people started to make a big deal out of it,” Morris said.
“I remember watching her listen to a recording of it much later in her life … She was analyzing it and she said, ‘I’m really proud of that. It was good, it was good for what it should have been. ‘ ”
While the song caught Claman’s attention, it has sentimental value to Canadians and hockey fans who grew up listening to it before cheering on their favorite teams.
“The theme song ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ is dear to the hearts of so many hockey fans, and kicks off many exciting Saturday nights, ” said Chris Wilson, executive director of CBC Sports and Olympics, in an email.
“Our condolences go out to Dolores’ family.”
John Ciccone, founder of Copyright Music and Visuals, called Claman “smart, strong, confident and exceptionally fair.”
“She always kept that giant artist’s heart and soul. She read fan letters and watched videos of school groups and kids enthusiastically playing ‘the hockey theme,’ he said in a statement.
“I could see the tears in her eyes. She was so moved. It was an honor for her that she never took for granted.”
Morris also described her mother as a “strong feminist” and said the sexism in the advertising industry had never fazed her.
“I just did what I do. Most of the men (who) worked with me were very nice,” Claman said in 2016, when she explained that she was one of the few women in her industry. .
“I’ve rarely had problems with them for not wanting to work with a woman – well yes, a few times, but that’s fair enough. I was lucky I didn’t care at the time. era. “
But Morris recalled an incident when Claman was having dinner with a client in Toronto. The restaurant refused to serve Claman because the women were supposed to wear skirts and dresses. She was wearing an emerald green top and a bell bottom.
“She just stood there … in front of the butler and the whole table and just unzipped her pants and took them off,” Morris said.
Claman is survived by Morris and his son Michael.
Morris said his mother loved to travel and admired the gardens of Regent’s Park in the UK, so the family will scatter their ashes throughout the park and the Mediterranean.
– with files from David Friend in Toronto