I am saddened to hear the passing of Larry Wanagas, on January 31st, 2024.
Larry was the last boss I ever had, and was also technically one of my first. My very first job interview in the commercial music industry was in Larry’s office in 2011. I was so nervous going into it, and walking past the walls filled with Grammy Awards and platinum plaques of the artists he discovered and managed only heightened my nervousness. But Larry ended up being one of the warmest and kindest people in the industry and made me feel welcome in my new role.
I worked with him for the next two years (as my board director), and considered him one of my mentors. He graciously volunteered his time regularly, showing up to the workshops I was coordinating, to help the younger generation of artist managers. And you could tell he enjoyed doing it.
Five years later I then found myself interviewing at his office for a second time. But this time to help manage his artists on his roster. He gave me some amazing opportunities while I was there, like sending me and Annie to New York City to meet executives with Sony, SoundCloud, etc etc., and whenever I asked to take on a project like attempting to promote The Trews to US radio, or change things up from the way he’d been doing them for 35 years, he let me. I often say I “came in there like a wrecking ball”.
I learned so much from him from the day I entered the industry, and it’s impacted my career greatly. Because of him I got to work with and on projects for The Trews, Tim Chaisson, and The Lazy’s. All radio chart topping and/or Juno award winning artist’s in Canada.
Larry was responsible for discovering Grammy winner k.d. Lang, and The Trews, and managed them both for 15 years. He also managed Colin James, and Big Sugar, among many others. He served on many boards, always volunteered his time, and was a staple in the Canadian (and international) music industry.
I interviewed Larry for SmartistU, back before SmartistU became my full-time job, when it was my little side gig/blog. When I started working for Larry for the second time, I was in and out of my entrepreneurial journey, but working for him marked my last-ever job and he became my last-ever boss, in 2017, the year he retired.
Here is that interview if you’d like to learn more about Larry’s artist management career.
Rest in peace, Lars. Sending love to Sheryl and your boys.
Founder of SmartistU