Mike Lambert, an independent music promoter who brought acts such as the Ramones, Iggy Pop and Green Day to Winnipeg long before the punk-rock legends became Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, has died.
Lambert died of cancer on Dec. 3. He was 63.
Many of those who are in the music promotion business in Winnipeg today say they owe their career path to Lambert, who promoted concerts with the company Some Guy Presents, and later also became the booking agent for the Spectrum nightclub (now the Pyramid Cabaret).
"He was this leather-clad punk rock impresario from the mid-’80s who brought the world to Winnipeg and gave us a good push to get out there and see live music and see ourselves as a community," says Chris Frayer, the artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival. "Mike was the first person, either through osmosis or just being around him, who actually gave me the idea that I could make a living as a concert promoter."
Frayer was a teenager in the 1980s who enjoyed going to concerts, especially ones that Lambert brought to Winnipeg, such as the Ramones’ 1983 show at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre, Iggy Pop at the University of Manitoba in 1988 and Green Day to the Royal Albert in 1991, three years before the California group reached mainstream superstardom with the album Dookie and the hit single When I Come Around.
"He was definitely an integral part of the Winnipeg music scene, for sure," says Stu Reid, one of Lambert’s longtime friends. "If you’re going to make a Mount Rushmore of the behind-the-scenes guys, he’s on there."
Reid first met Lambert in the late 1970s when Lambert worked at Records on Wheels, which at that time was one of countless record stores located downtown on Portage Avenue.
Reid was part of a group of teenagers who hung out at the store, and later on, when Lambert began promoting shows, he turned to Reid to make the concert posters for shows that included everything from mainstays of Canadian punk like D.O.A., SNFU and NoMeansNo to international acts like the Dead Kennedys, the Proclaimers and That Petrol Emotion.
"The very first gig poster I ever did was for Mike," says Reid, who since has created more than a thousand concert posters for Winnipeg shows, and just last month released a calendar of those works, some of which were for Lambert’s promotions. "It happened at the Marion Hotel, a band from England called Alien Sex Fiend and a new wave guy from Toronto, B.B. Gabor."
Gordie Agar was another one of those youngsters who hung around at Records on Wheels in the late 1970s; he reconnected with Lambert around 2011, long after Lambert quit promoting concerts.
But his love of music, especially punk and reggae, never waned, Agar says.
"Punk was his life, he lived it and breathed it."
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.