RIP: George Semkiw

George Semkiw, one of Canada’s most successful engineers and producers, passed away from cancer on June 14, 2018, at the age of 74.

Semkiw’s incredible body of work includes credits with some of music’s biggest names across almost every genre, from movie soundtracks and jingles to funk, soul, reggae, world, heavy metal, classical, and disco. He worked with the likes of Duke Ellington, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lou Reed, Harry Belafonte, Funkadelic, Moe Koffman, Trooper, Johnny Nash, THP Orchestra, Triumph, Streetheart, Michel Pagliaro, Colin Linden, and Daniel Lanois, among many others.

Semkiw’s career in music began as a member of Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights, who were one of the prominent groups on the Yonge St. Strip in the early 1960s. They notably were the first Toronto rock’n’roll band to have a number one song on the CHUM chart with “Oh Charlena” in 1963.

Later, George worked in the mastering rooms of RCA Studios (later known as McClear Digital) on Mutual Street in Tornoto in the mid-‘60s. After a couple years as a mastering engineer, he spent nearly a decade in RCA studios recording everything from jingles to legendary artists, eventually becoming chief engineer.

He is also known for his working designing some of Canada’s best studios. In 1975 he oversaw the construction of Phase One studios in Toronto and then spent four years there as staff engineer and producer.

In 1979, Semkiw built his own studio, Amber Sound, which was the first in Canada to feature a digital multi-track recorder and to have five isolation booths. He moved the studio to a different location in 1986 and pursued freelance engineering and production work. He has also worked as a sound-studio design consultant on a number of occasions.

Professional Sound sends our deepest condolences to George’s family, friends, and colleagues.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician, Canadian Music Trade, Professional Sound, and Professional Lighting & Production magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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