Bobby Gimby

Bobby (Robert Stead) Gimby. Orchestra leader, trumpeter, songwriter, b Cabri, west of Moose Jaw, Sask, 25 Oct 1918, d North Bay, Ont, 20 Jun 1998.

Bobby Gimby

Bobby (Robert Stead) Gimby. Orchestra leader, trumpeter, songwriter, b Cabri, west of Moose Jaw, Sask, 25 Oct 1918, d North Bay, Ont, 20 Jun 1998. He played in the Cabri Boys' Band and other western Canadian boys' bands and dance orchestras and was lead trumpet 1941-3, in Toronto, of Mart Kenney's Western Gentlemen. He formed his own orchestra in Toronto in the mid-1940s and led the Rodeo Rascals in 1949 on CBC radio's 'Bobby Gimby Show,' a program of country music. He was a featured soloist and raconteur 1945-59 with 'The Happy Gang' on CBC radio, and music director 1956-60 for 'Juliette' on CBC TV. In 1963 he went to London, England, where he worked for Rothman's of Pall Mall, for which he wrote radio jingles. The company's interests in the Far East led to Gimby's writing 'Malaysia Forever.' His nickname, 'The Pied Piper of Canada,' originated at this time.

Gimby returned to Canada in 1963 and for many years led hotel orchestras and, occasionally, a dixieland jazz band in Toronto. In 1967 he composed 'CA-NA-DA', the most popular song of Canada's centennial celebrations. He toured the country - and in later years the USA, Germany, and Japan - leading groups of school children in performances of this and other songs. In this work he was assisted by his daughter, Lynn Gimby-Bougerol. In 1975 he was the host for CTV's musical-variety show 'Sing a Song.' During the 1980s he continued to lead groups including the Bobby Gimby Orchestra for civic, charity, children's, and senior citizens' events throughout Canada. In 1987, he established Bobby Gimby Productions in partnership with the Sensation Jazz Band.

Gimby's compositions include centennial songs for Manitoba ('Manitoba Hundred') and British Columbia ('Go British Col-umbia'), and commercial jingles for, among others, the Tea Council of Canada and Chrysler-Plymouth. His 'Little People' was written in Malaysia in aid of the United Nations' Freedom-From-Hunger campaign. With the comedian Johnny Wayne he wrote several songs, of which the most popular was 'The Cricket Song' (1956), recorded by Ray Bolger and others. Several of Gimby's songs were published by G.V. Thompson. His recordings include 78s with Kenney, the Happy Gang, and Bert Niosi in the 1940s, and later LPs under his own name for CTL, Quality (The Pied Piper & the Kids, SV-1820), and his own BG label.

In 1967, in recognition of his work for the centennial, Gimby was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was named Broadcaster of the Year. In 1968, Moffatt Broadcasting Limited awarded his 'CA-NA-DA' two Lloyd E. Moffat Memorial Awards, for Best Middle-of-the-Road Record and Best Example of Canadian Originality and Creativity.

Further Reading

  • Frayne, Trent. 'Bob Gimby,' Liberty, Jan 1947

    Kenyon, Ron. 'Four lives of Bobby Gimby,' Star Weekly, 26 Sep 1959

    Rasky, Frank. 'All together now - everybody sing,' The Canadian, 10 Jan 1967

    'Bobby Gimby's "Canada" a phenomenal success story,' CanComp, 20, Jul-Aug 1967

    Lacey, Liam. 'Didn't you used to be...? Bobby Gimby,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 24 Jul 1987

    'Bobby Gimby created 1967 hit song 'Ca-na-da,''' Toronto Star, 21 June 1998