Canada’s Music Industry’s ‘Queen of F**king Everything,’ Pegi Cecconi Passed Away SuperNayr



TORONTO (CelebrityAccess) — Canada’s musical heart is beating slower this weekend after news surfaced on the (Thurs.) March 28th passing of Pegi Cecconi, dubbed “The Queen of F**king Everything,” (which was on her business cards) in Toronto after a long illness.

A commanding executive gifted with a peerless combination of business savvy and steadying grace, Cecconi was a true powerhouse of the Canadian music industry, and one of its chief architects with nearly five decades of service.

As she said herself at an award ceremony, “You’re looking at someone who rips through business contracts like a Harlequin Romance novel.”

She survived cancer twice, but in 2022 she was diagnosed with PSP (Progressive Supernuclear Palsey) which turned out to be a battle too great. Never one for self-pity, according to close friends, she met her diagnoses, and eventual fate with courage and humor.

“A profoundly sad and heartbreaking day,” says Geddy Lee, late of Rush. “We’ve lost a remarkable person, a beloved friend and one of the most brilliant, sassiest people the music industry has ever seen. Irreplaceable and thoroughly unique. We were blessed to have her working behind the scenes on behalf of Rush for almost 50 years.“

Besides her lengthy tenure as Vice President of SRO Management Inc., and its recording label arm Anthem Entertainment Group for those decades Cecconi served on the board of directors including: The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) for 18 years; with The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) for 18 years including as Chair and Treasurer); at the Independent Digital Licensing Agency (IDLA);nd the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA).

In the mid-80s, she also served on the board of the U.S.-based Professional Association of Licensed Music Merchandisers.

She received the Brian Chater Pioneers Award from the Music Managers Forum in 2015 for her significant contributions to the Canadian music industry.

Cecconi was also honored in 2020 with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award which recognizes individuals whose work has significantly impacted the growth and development of the Canadian music industry.

As a forceful business woman, Cecconi was renowned for her tireless advocacy for creators’ rights. She became a powerful force who started out on the ground floor of the music biz, booking bands in the high school in her hometown of South Porcupine, Northern Ontario

Having served as VP of SRO Management, and the independent record label Anthem Entertainment Group for decades. Cecconi involved herself in every aspect of the shared companies, including music publishing, management, booking, recording, merchandising, video production, A&R, master licensing, and legal issues while at the same time attaining extensive international expertise.

Significantly contributing to the Rush empire that moved more than 40 million albums, she fought to bring SCTV comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Bob and Doug McKenzie into the SRO/Anthem fold Propelled by the Top 20 hit “Take Off,” featuring Geddy Lee, the duo’s album “The Great White became a cultural phenomenon, selling almost one million copies in the U.S ,and topping 350,000 units in Canada.

A Juno Award, a Grammy nomination, and a 1983 Canadian comedy film “Strange Brew” came from the project.

“My proudest moment,” Cecconi said. “I told Ray, ‘It’ll cost us $8,000. If it sells nothing…we can afford the laugh.’”

Cecconi also played a pivotal role in the careers of SRO founder Ray Danniels’ long list of other clients including: Max Webster Ian Thomas, Gowan, Matthew Good, Coney Hatch, Extreme, Big Wreck, Queensryche, Van Halen, Molly Johnson, Brody Dalle, the Tea Party, Steven Page, and B.B. Gabor among them.

Alongside Danniels, Cecconi elevated their two companies to an abundant creative culture and, in particular, helped build an economic infrastructure to support and connect musical creativity and the music industry.

Danniels explained Cecconi’s assets in a 2015 “In The Hot Seat” profile. “You have people coming through the door every day with projects for Rush. Pegi is the first filter. They have to get past Pegi, unless they know one of us, before it gets to us. She’s got a pretty good sense of what is probable or possible and what is a waste of time.”

Along the way, Cecconi never lost sight of what her focus was, and what she wanted the organization to do. It was almost like a teacher at the head of a class, if you will.

“I wanted everyone to win and make money,” Cecconi stated in a rare interview. ““I could do anything I wanted, unless it failed. I didn’t fail.”

She further explained in her acceptance speech for the 2020 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, “You see, when I was coming up there was no “Women in Music”, and in fact that suited me just fine…because I wanted to be where the deals were being made – and at that time, that wasn’t at an event all full of women. And that still hasn’t changed much, unfortunately.”

She slyly added, “You see, feminists believe in equality. I don’t. Women are better.”

As another Canadian female music pioneer (from executives posts at Much Music, and CBS Music Canada) Denise Donlon, said in presenting Cecconi’ with the Brian Chater Pioneers Award in 2015 “Pegi is tenacious. I know that many of you in the room have had the pleasure to engage with her on some thorny industry issues – dogfights if you will – when she was chair of the FACTOR board, or at CMRRA, at CIRPA, or recently with the OMF..…OMG. She stands on her principles and she’s fearless about taking anyone on, from broadcasters to labels to promoters. As (singer) Molly Johnson adoringly said ‘Pegi is so high up on the chain that when she backs one artist or a writer or a publisher, she elevates all, not just her own.’ It’s true. Pegi’s a Mama Bear and will rise to her full height if provoked.”

Following the 2015 buyout of SRO by Management Inc. and Anthem Entertainment Group, Cecconi served as a consultant for its renamed Anthem Entertainment.

Cecconi’s career began as social convener at her high school Roland Michener Secondary School booking bands for dances there and as nearby Timmins and New Liskeard in Northern Ontario. Following graduation she hitchhiked to Toronto burst onto the Toronto music scene as a booker with the Concept 376 Agency. In Toronto.

Noted Donlon, “Even in high school Pegi had visions of adventure. She negotiated a grade 13 pass (so she didn’t have to repeat the year) then boldly hitchhiked to Toronto and applied for a job at a talent booking agency. In her words, ‘I had to dress like a hooker to get hired for the job.’ And she did.”

“She was with me for under a year as a booker,” recalls Tom Wilson, owner of Concept 376. “She was very young, and very outspoken. She almost took over the office. She was Pegi.. She was a good booker once she learned. Everybody has an opinion of Pegi, but I loved her.”

When Danniels and a fellow booker Vic Wilson came together to launch SRO Management, Cecconi joined them, gaining valuable experience in artist management.

After few years, Cecconi went on to work as a legal secretary for noted Toronto entertainment lawyer Bernard Solomon, where she learned the bare bones of music publishing and master licensing.

In 1977, Cecconi returned to the fledgling SRO Management and oversaw the company’s entry into music publishing, helping the company grow from an artist management and booking agency into a entertainment dynamo

“Pegi was my ultimate mentor and sidekick,” says Meg Symsyk, today president/CEO of FACTOR. “ I joined Anthem/SRO in 2007, and spent the next 8 years with the company (handling global marketing, media for world album releases and tours, and Rush’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.). I had left Universal Music Canada after 10 years. I had worked with Pegi and Rush while there. At SRO & Anthem, I was blessed with daily comedy from Pegi.

“I would say that she was a force of nature because everybody has a memory of laughing with Pegi. So many people in the industry knew her and so many people loved her and that’s a rare quality.”

Adds Danniels “Females were few and far between in the industry when she started . So If you are a woman in the music business today, she was a huge trailblazer for you. If you are a Canadian trying to succeed in the music business outside of Canada, she was a trailblazer in that way as well. I don’t think we (Canadians) would be where we are without her. She opened a lot of doors.”

The CEO of Bandwidth Music and Marketing as well as president and owner/operator of the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, and the Bronson Centre Music Theatre in Ottawa Lisa Zbitnew agrees. “People like me wouldn’t exist without Pegi. Period. She carved a path for the rest of us. Only someone with her sheer force could create that. And she did so with humor and grace and an intelligence that was awe inspiring. She exits with the same courage that she entered. I am honored to have known her.

Throughout her career Cecconi had always fought tenaciously to get the best deals for her artists and songwriters. She also continually explored every avenue within the music industry to get all Canadian artists heard home and abroad.

“IF Pegi Cecconi was your friend, you had one hell of a friend, At a birthday party for her a few months ago, I said, ‘It got to the point that people stopped being afraid of you.’ They just love you,” Danniels said.

Pegi Cecconi was the proud mother of two daughters, Toni and Kate Wales, and her sister, Elaine “Beatle” Cecconi. She had married Doug Wales in 1984. He had passed away 2011.

The family sends their heartfelt thanks to her Oncology, PSWs and Palliative teams who kept her as comfortable as possible. Pegi didn’t want a funeral but would appreciate Donations to PSP via https://pspsocietycanada.ca.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

“I’ve never known anybody in any business more devoted to their job as Pegi whom I met at Concept 376 just after she had arrived in Toronto, from championing multiple causes and to bolstering all artists, and songwriters like she did. As an industry in the ‘70s. Canadians had to scratch and claw for most everything. Pegi could scratch and claw without people knowing they had been scratched and clawed. She was also renowned for her sheer screwball comic genius. She left a mark on our business that will never be erased.” Larry LeBlanc

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