Veteran SOCAN songwriter Johnny Cowell passes away at 92

February 9, 2018

Veteran SOCAN songwriter Johnny Cowell, one of Canada's most successful songwriters of the '50s and early '60s, has passed away at the age of 92.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Johnny Cowell put Canadian songs on the top of the pop charts, and had more than 100 of his songs recorded. One of his most enduring remains “Walk Hand in Hand,” a sweeping love ballad that‘s been recorded more than 90 times, including hit versions by crooners Andy Williams and  Tony Martin, and Liverpool beat group Gerry & The Pacemakers. The song was also featured in the movie Withnail and I, and the TV series Heartbeat and Call The Midwife.

He also composed hits for The Guess Who (“His Girl”) and Bill Purcell (“Our Winter Love”), and his song “(These Are) The Young Years,” in the version performed by organist Floyd Cramer, appeared in the final season of Breaking Bad in 2013. His song "Stroll Along with the Blues" was placed in British comedy film Two Way Stretch, featuring Peter Sellers. The trumpet player, a former member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, was one of the first inductees into the Scarborough Walk of Fame.

Cowell is survived by his wife and musical colleague Joan, daughter Marcy (Michael), grandchildren Shawn, Patrick and Megan, and niece Dianne.

In 2016, SOCAN interviewed Cowell for a "Canadian Classics" piece about "Walk Hand in Hand." You can read that story here.