As they celebrate their 25th year together as a band and a top Canadian concert attraction, Streetsville’s Billy Talent was named Legends of Live at the 3rd annual Live Music Industry Awards on May 13, 2018.
The Live Music Industry Awards were hosted by Paul Shaffer and celebrated the best in the business with award presentations and live musical performances.
Highlights include Daniel Caesar winning New Touring Artist of the Year and Billy Talent accepting the Legends of Live Award. The band gave a special, rare performance with original drummer Aaron Solowoniuk on “Rusted From The Roof.” Solowoniuk has been absent from the band, as he battles multiple sclerosis
The band has deep roots in Mississauga, especially in Streetsville and Meadowvale neighbourhoods. The boys formed the band at Mount Carmel Secondary School at the prompting of their English teacher David Rogers in the spring of 1993, with Benjamin Kowalewicz as the lead vocalist, Ian D’Sa on guitar, bassist Jon Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk.
Known in those early years as “Pezz” they wowed Mississauga and GTA locals who flocked to see them with their new-on-the-music-scene punk-pop performances on Friday nights at the Masonic Lodge in Streetsville.
But it took a decade of hard work in the GTA’s indie music scene before the band became an “overnight” success in 2001. The band renamed itself Billy Talent and about this time Kowalewicz’s connection with Warner Music Canada’s A&R department resulted a record deal that kick-started their mainstream success.
And Billy Talent can now certainly claim bona fide success: millions in sales, international tours, media coverage, seven Junos and nine MuchMusic video awards.
In his acceptance speech on behalf of his band members, Billy Talent singer Ben Kowalewicz regretted a recent Toronto music venue closings and urged the audience to support live music. “We have to support local music — go see the bands, go buy a T-shirt, go buy a beer and keep this industry and this music scene — which is the best in the f$%*ing world — alive for years to come.”
A good message to heed. Perhaps if it wasn’t for the support of Mississauga’s music lovers in the very beginning of the band’s journey, Billy Talent would not be taking centre stage in the music world today.