08 Feb HE CAME IN PEACE
Ritchie Yorke passed away on the night of Monday the 6th of February in Brisbane’s Prince Charles Hospital from complications with his struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Ritchie’s career has been long and illustrious, and he will forever be remembered by his family and fellow lovers of music.
Ritchie’s career really began when he was fired from a radio show in Tamworth for playing Little Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips Pt. 2” eight times in a row, after being ordered not to play the song the previous week due to the artists race.
His next step would be life changing, it would like many to follow, be a step overseas.
Ritchie went to the UK and began working with Normie Rowe, becoming the international promotional manager for Sunshine Records and a publicity expert for Island Records. He emigrated to Canada in 1967 and began to build a reputation as a major music journalist and advocate for Canadian music.
The Canadian Composer magazine later referred to Ritchie as “the patron saint of Canadian music.”
A passionate music journalist and activist, Ritchie notably joined John Lennon on the Canada stage of his peace campaign in 1969, as well as contributing greatly in the organisation of other events and protests for peace. Ritchie and Lennon’s primary belief was that music can be used as an instrument for social change. Together they were able to prove this, orchestrating the meeting between Lennon and Canadian PM Robert Trudeau, the first official meeting between a pop musician and politician.
Ritchie also became good friends with rock giants Led Zeppelin, being one of the first journalists to recognise the bands immense potential and to predict their success in the US. The band later referred to Ritchie as “one of us” and praised his honest appraisal of their career in his successful biography Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography.
He wrote for a number of publications, including Rolling Stone, Billboard, The New Melody Express, Globe and Mail and then Queensland Sunday-Mail for 20 years. Ritchie was considered to be one of the most prolific writers for the global music scene, and was awarded the 1972 JUNO award for Canadian journalist of the year.
Tributes are flying in for the veteran cosmic rocker, from musicians, music lovers, journalists and friends from around the world. A quick search of his name brings up numerous tweets and posts commemorating Ritchie’s life and his impact on the lives of others.
A celebration of Ritchie’s life is currently being organised for Valentine’s Day at the Old Museum in Brisbane. He leaves behind his loving family and wife Minnie.
He will be missed