April 24, 1945 - August 27, 2007
Events Performed: Calgary Bluesfest (2007)
CBMA Blues Hall of Fame
Lifetime Achievement (2008)
Doug Riley was one of Canada’s treasures and greatest musical figures. Known to many as Dr. Music, he was a prolific musical artist. His musical prowess and effortless mastery were in demand throughout his diversified professional career as an arranger and composer and as a pianist and organist. With a vast musical knowledge, the scope of Doug’s career includes an amazing array of accomplishments. He was simply at his best in virtually any musical genre.
As a youth Doug studied at the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and later earned a bachelor degree in Music at the University of Toronto. He worked on a Masters degree in compositional ethnomusicology with a specific interest in the music of the First Nations People.
As a performer Doug Riley was featured alongside Placido Domingo and Ofra Harnoy with several major symphony orchestras. He also worked regularly with the National Ballet.
Writing or performing music Doug had an impact in many genres, from Pop and R&B to Classical and Jazz. He was an instrumental force behind the development of several succesful music industry business ventures. Doug performed or collaborated on more than 300 recordings during his career. This included work with Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, the Brecker Brothers, Ringo Starr, Bob Seger plus many great jazz and classical artists.
What set Doug aside from other highly skilled professionals was his ability to improvise on jazz and blues music. Doug was a fine pianist and a significant force on the Hammond B3. His work as an organist influenced the styles of many emerging players. At one time, Doug was a featured guest B3 player with The Ray Charles Orchestra and was later asked if he would like to join the band. In 2004 Doug created a beautiful duet recording of gospel tunes and hymns with Edmonton saxophonist P.J. Perry.
Sadly, after a brilliant and energized closing concert performance at the 2007 Calgary Blues Festival, Doug Riley passed away the following morning at the Calgary International Airport of heart failure.
biography contributed by Brian Buchanan