Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fort-Erie Keyboardist Michael Fonfara (of Downchild) Passes


It is with sadness that we announce the passing of the legendary, Fort-Erie born keyboardist Michael Fonfara. We do not have many details but we will will post it here as we know more. Our condolences to this family, friends and fans.

He was a member of such unforgettable bands as the Checkmates, Rhinoceros, Rough TradeElectric Flag, Blackstone, Tycoon, The Lincolns, and most recently Downchild. Michael also worked with Lou Reed on many projects in the 1970's. Other career highlights include many Maple Blues Awards wins and working with the Everly Brothers, Foreigner, plus many more.

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It is with heavy hearts that we sadly announce the passing of our dear friend and longtime bandmate, Michael Fonfara. He was an incredible musician, a gentle soul and we were honoured to share the stage with him every time we performed. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. There will be a celebration of life once we are all safely able to get together.

Gary Kendall (Downchild)

I've heard Donnie Walsh say many times "He's the best musician I've ever worked with".  I echo those words.  Yesterday we lost a brother, a band mate, a co-writer and a dear friend.  His important role away from the music business was as a husband, father and grandfather.  If you met him, you loved him.  A creative genius and a band leader's worst nightmare.   I was very fortunate to share space with him in recording studios, big stages, small stages, vans, cars, planes, hotels and restaurants.  Fonf has left us but we'll continue to play music that he wrote, arranged or just made better by his presence.  Thanks for the memories, see you on the other side. 

Howard Moore (Powder Blues Band)

Musical genius, bandmate, innovator, wild man, loyal friend and sweet sweet soul. From the very first time I worked with him 15 or so years ago, he instantly became one of my biggest supporters and encouragers. It was never a handshake with Fonf, always a hug. We played a ton of gigs together on some huge stages and also tiny clubs, recorded together many times, misbehaved together once in a while and laughed our asses off more times than I can remember, and through it all I was always amazed by his playing, which really was out of this world. No matter his preparation or more often lack thereof, HE was the one who moved the crowd. Always. He was a star and our world is a little dimmer tonight because of this massive loss. 

I love you Fonf. 

God bless you as you continue your journey.

Kat Kings

Fonf was a true genius. Every time I played with him he would amaze me. I would often look at Gary Kendall or Mike Fitzpatrick and they were amazed too.  I would ask guys who played with him a lot more than I did and they said the same thing. You don't see too many musicians who could play like Fonf. 

I only got to know him in the last 10 years or so.  He was always smiling and laughing. He was just a sweet guy. 

He always had time to say hello. When he talked to you he was intense and focused. 

I was so fortunate to get to play and hang out with Mike. His musical gifts will be missed by so many. His sweet personality will be missed even more.

Bob Omar Tunnoch (Fathead)

Fonf's enthusiasm and joy for playing was infectious!! Whether there were 2 people or thousands he always gave 110%. I always looked forward to playing with him when I knew he was on the gig. RIP Fonf love you !! 

Betty Richardson

Videos above courtesy of Jeff Thrasher 


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