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Old Jan 11, 2012, 08:58 PM
Shonwise Shonwise is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Nanaimo BC
Posts: 90
John Forrest

Known to friends as Blackie...

This is a man who made a significant contribution to the lives of many musicians. He had an altruistic and genuine commitment to allowing young musicians to experience the true education of jazz: The late night jam session. So often, these sessions are read in the biographies of legends as being paramount to their interest.

He made connections.

He used to help me sneak into a late night jam session when I was still in high-school. Introduced me to so many musicians who would later become mentors and friends.

I'm sure many of you have similar stories of Blackie.

Rest in peace my friend.
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Old Jan 12, 2012, 03:26 PM
Fred Stride Fred Stride is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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RE - John/Blackie

This is certainly news.

Can you give us any more information?

I first met John when we were in high school. My school did an exchange with his. He was a character even then.

Fred Stride
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Old Jan 13, 2012, 02:54 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Location: Vancouver
Posts: 782
John died from a heart attack. He was a wonderful, talented, funny and gentle soul who was a pleasure to be around. I played many gigs with him back in the day and I remember him well. RIP John "Blackie" Forrest.
Gavin Walker's The Jazz Show is heard Mondays 9PM to midnight on CITR 101.9 FM and online.
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Old Jan 13, 2012, 11:14 PM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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Old Jan 14, 2012, 09:51 PM
phildwyer phildwyer is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 149
my pal Blackie

My last two years of high school or so, starting about the time I got my drivers license, I started playing gigs with John, who had recently moved back to the island from Toronto. He was the subject of many outrageous stories (the bread truck story being the most noteworthy), had famously played with the Buddy Rich band, of course the Gzowski show, and others, but mainly to me he was a really important link to the 'pro' way of doing things. I ended up playing with John, sometimes 2 or 3 nights a week at various little spots in Nanaimo, Gabriola Island, Victoria, etc, lots of duo, and with drummers Mike Higgins and Garry Gaudet, and different local horn players. I learned a ton of tunes, often with John singing the melody to me the first couple of times through. After I came back from New York he was living in Vancouver, playing in the opera orchestra-I believe his stand partner was Chris Nelson-and we did some trio stuff with Blaine Wikjord, of which I still have a cassette from a gig at 'the Joint'. John was an exceptionally natural and well rounded musician, and a man with a keen intellect. His fascination with crows and ravens was well known, and he directed and composed for a short film for the NFB called Seven Crows a Secret, among other work he did for the NFB. His profile is here

Passionate, unpredictable, self-destructive, loyal, brilliant, and somehow out of step with many of the conventions of society, yet sharply aware of the foibles of same, a keen observer, and a rewarding but also frustrating guy to have as a friend. All that said I know that I’m a better person for having known John and I’m terribly sad thinking that I’ll never see him again. One further note. The nickname Blackie came from Tom Keenlyside, and was bestowed upon John as we (Tom, me, Whacker, and John) were playing cards-for money-in our hotel room, on a break from our stint as the house band for the Prince George telethon. (those 3 days generated a few stories). Anyway, as John was cleaning us out (he won most of we were making on the whole gig) he started adopting a piratesque countenance, complete with one menacingly drooped eyelid, and Tom said something to the effect of “check out ol’ Blackie there”, and it stuck like glue. As a caveat, that nickname might have an earlier pedigree, but I knew John pretty well and that was the first I heard of it. It sure got popular fast though.

Anyway, Blackie was quite a guy, one of a kind. He will be missed.

**two other buddies of mine, Rick Tait and Earl Seymour, both moved to Toronto to be in the house band for the Gzowski show, it only lasted one season but I'm sure the highlight of the whole shebang would have been John's 'one man band' routine. Brilliant.
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Old Apr 7, 2012, 03:51 PM
Gregg Simpson Gregg Simpson is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Bowen Island, BC
Posts: 244
John Forrest

It was a bit of shocker that John passed so suddenly. His health was never all that great I suppose, especially in recent years.

I did get to play a bit in my studio in North van with him and Henry Boudin. We worked out the Freedom Now Suite by Sonny Rollins and had a ball with that material. He was such a strong player. He'll be missed.
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