It was at a staff meeting for The Pig Paper, upstairs at Toronto’s Beverley Tavern sometime in very late 1975, that I first had the pleasure of bumming a ride home from the one, the only Imants Krumins. You see, he was the only denizen of our nascent Blank Canuck Generation way back then who not only had an (operable) car, but a job as well. You have NO IDEA how vitally important this was to all of us Ontario College of Art drop-outs then unwittingly littering Queen Street West in search of what was to soon become, quote, An Alternative Lifestyle.
Then about a year later, from the depths of said car’s trunk (which was forever full of dozens upon dozens of swap copies of some of the world’s coolest records) Imants handed me two import 45’s, by Nick Lowe and The Saints. “Uh, you should really write about these in your fanzine you know,” he said. Thus The Pig Paper soon turned from a silly little mock-Who-and-Kink-concert-handbill to a great big (silly) voice of Proto-Punk and Garage-y Rock in General.
Then, suddenly, it was the Summer of Hate, and fantastic little alt.Canadian music scenes were busy developing well beneath the radar right nearby in both Toronto (Viletones especially) and in Hamilton too of course (Teenage Head and those grand-daddys of em all, Simply Saucer). Again however, had it not been for Imants’ job, car, and expert mastery of the Queen Elizabeth Highway which joined those cities, these two tribes would never ever have even met, let alone scored gigs together at CBGB’s on the Bow-wow-ery by season’s end (…you bet, Imants was already making regular gig and record runs to NYC and London as well, networking our homegrown noise to kindred souls in these other key burgs too).
But one of literally hundreds of classic Krumins moments can say it all:
The Viletones are playing some secret gig on Toronto’s Yonge Street strip. Teenage Head wanna go. And I wanna go too …coz what else was there to do in the suburbs at 2AM on a Friday night? So Imants grabs the Head, picks me up en route to Toronto, I hear ABBA in the tape deck, discover through the rear-view that Head bassman Steve Mahon knows all the words to “Mamma Mia,” and we all spend the next twenty minutes along the Queen Elizabeth Way learning in precise detail about Teenage Head’s otherwise top-secret Swedish disco-pop roots.
I could go on and on about how Imants became the Ramones’ designated chauffeur one night, spilt some beer on Phil Lynott about an hour later, gave me my first copy of Metal Machine Music, successfully beat up the garbage disposal in Simply Saucer’s kitchen… but suffice to say that long, long before the Internet or even cable TV existed, we who played, wrote about, or just plain loved rock and roll basically relied on uber-fans such as Imants to keep us all connected, mobile, supplied with the latest sounds, and on top of every single musical thing in general.
Long may he drive.
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I wrote the above words nearly a decade ago, to celebrate Imants’ fiftieth birthday. I saw him last the night of October 24, 2009 at the legendary Maxwell’s club in Hoboken, NJ to see the equally legendary Trashmen give the bird the word.
Imants passed away on June 9th. A tribute concert was held one month later in the town he lived in, did so much for, and meant so much to: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Donations should still be made in memory of Imants Krumins to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.