Remembering HOWIE HOOPER

Photo contributed by an anonymous friend of Howie’s

Howie’s good friend Paul Kent used to say when he went to see Howie that he needed a little “scoop of the Hoop”. What’s your scoop of the Hoop? If you would like to share your memories or pictures of Howie for posting here, send them to:

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You’ll find Howie on video here.

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Our friend Howie Hooper, a well loved member of our musical community, has died. We knew he was very ill but even so, news of his death hits hard. Howie was a big guy with a big baritone voice and a cowboy attitude. He played a mean guitar and he did what a good songwriter does – touch people’s hearts with his beautiful, sensitive lyrics.

For many years Howie was part of the Spirit of Rasputin’s Monday night open stage, occupying a corner barstool next to Paul Kent at Whispers. He was a little bit quiet, a little bit smiley, and a little bit mysterious, but his songs revealed a lot about what was in his heart.

It’s hard knowing that one of our fellow music-makers is now silenced, but Howie’s music will live on, and we’ll remember him fondly.

Susan Sweeney Hermon
President, Spirit of Rasputin’s

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Dear Howie,
It’s been years since I’ve seen you but your impact on me will live on. You were encouraging, patient and a wonderful musician.I will never forget you,


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I will not forget sitting down next to Howie at a Rasputin’s Open Stage after my little set. A virtual rookie at both instrument and making up songs sitting down next to a life-long veteran of many musical adventures and a fellow who had made up countless good songs.

We didn’t really know each other, but Howie turned to me and said, in his mild and unassuming manner: “Maybe we should record one of your songs.” Next thing, we were in his home studio and he was patiently and expertly guiding me through the process. I left with a CD of me on it doing what he had identified (and rightly so) as my best tune. What a boost! His initiative and effort in helping me, purely out of the goodness of his heart, will always be a fondest memory.

I think of Howie as a quiet and gentle man, rather in contrast to his somewhat imposing presence and to his often robust musical presentations. I never did really get to know him. But I know this: he was a good and generous soul who will be missed by many.

Fred Dell’Amico

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“This Is For My Dear Friend/Spiritual Partner
Howie Hooper..🙏🏻

While It Is A Hard Truth That He Is Gone…🙏🏻

I Look In Front Of Me…

And He Is Gone…🙏🏻
But I Look In Front Of Me And I See…
That All Of His Pain Is Gone…
I Am So Grateful For This…🙏🏻
And Then I Turn Around And Look Behind Me…
He Is Everywhere…
I Look In My Head…
And I Look In My Heart…
And He Is…
He Will Always Be With Me…🙏🏻

With Love

         Paul Kent

I’ve Got Lots Of Stories…
So I Will Tell This One-

My Favourite Song Of Howie’s Was Always-
“Little Windows”
Maybe 5-6 Years Ago I Considered Learning To Play It…
So Howie Gave Me The Chords And Lyrics…
I Couldn’t Get It Down…
And Put It Away…
Then Recently..
With Renewed Determination…
I Decided I Was Going To Learn How To Play It…
I Would Visit Howie…
We Would Play Music…
And He Would Help Me With
“Little Windows”
He Was Talking About“This Chord”…
And I Was Struggling…
Went Home…
Kept Working On It…
On The Next Visit…
He’s Talking About
“This Chord”…???
I’m Listening…
And Looking At The Words And Chords That He Had Quickly Given Me 5-6 Years Before…
And I Said-
“That Chord Is Not On My Copy”…
He Looked At It And Said-
“Well…That’s Wrong!!”
And I Said-
“Well…That Might Be Part Of The Problem!!!”
And He Said-
“Well…I Didn’t Want To Make It Too Easy…”

Good Times!!!
Great Memory… 🙏🏻
(To Be Clear…
He Didn’t Intentionally Leave “The Chord”Out…
He Had Just Left It Out…5-6 Years Before When He Quickly Gave Me The Song To Learn…)
And With This New Revelation…
My Progress Improved…
And The Next Time I Saw Him…
I Played-
“Little Windows”
For Him…
All The Way Through…
He Was So Appreciative That I Played It For Him…🙏🏻

Great Memory…🙏🏻
Good Times…

Lovingly Told By-

Paul Kent

We all knew Howie as a skilled musician and song writer and we each have stories of working with him, playing with him or writing with him over the years. But he was much more than that.  As many of you would know, Howie owned and ran a successful appliance repair business for many years.  As a home owner, it is inevitable that appliances will let you down and it is critical to have someone in the business you can trust. 

Howie (I always knew him as Howard) repaired our refrigerator, washer and dryer more often than I care to think about, over the years.  He would never take a nickel for the work and despite my best efforts to pay for his vital and timely assistance, it never happened.

One Christmas Day, some 10 years ago or so, we were preparing a family dinner for 18.  No small feat at the best of times but mid afternoon our microwave quit.  Without that device we had no idea how we would handle the food preparation without imposing on our neighbours.  I called Howard to see if there was something that I could do to fix it as a temporary solution just to get us through the day.  He said “Bring it over!” So on a Christmas Day, when I am certain he had his own family priorities, he took the time to analyze the problem with our machine, found it, replaced the defective part and saved our family meal.  And again he would accept no remuneration.

He was kind and talented on so many levels, a pair of traits that the world would be better for, if we all possessed more of them. 

Alan Sandeman 

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I first met Howie about a dozen years ago. I’ve been privileged to have played music with him as well as to have shared ideas about writing songs, especially over a couple of beers, or a coffee. He loved to talk about writing. I always valued his advice and suggestions about creativity, songwriting, and living. His keen wit always entered our conversations; good-natured, funny. We shared many ideas and much laughter.  

Last Sunday, May 30th, Kevin King who manages the Dovercourt/McKellar Park “Circle” (an informal gathering of music lovers – now operating virtual due to Covid-19) informed me and other members about Howie’s sad passing. My heart felt crushed.

I will miss Howard.

We’d been emailing back and forth over the past while. About songs, songwriting … and about being true to one’s self. Being true to a calling. To writing. To embracing images, feelings and dreams, and transposing those into songs, stories, melodies. About forgiveness. About forgiving. Things we’d done. Meant to do. To be better beings.

I have one email in particular Howard sent me that is a teaching … not just about writing but about life.

He was a true songwriter. His songs were stories … all from the heart. I have no doubt whatsoever that had Howard been settled in Nashville his songs would be recognized and played … and fully appreciated by the entire music community there and elsewhere.

He called me not that long ago, before things turned worse for him, and we spoke at length about songs and writing. He was his usual tongue-in-cheek-self. Slipping in a word here and there which always conveyed a “double entendre,” sometimes a bit off-colour, usually funny. I told him I’d set a goal of a hundred songs this year. To hit 300 overall. He told me he’d written somewhere around 900 so far. I told him to ease off and give this poor boy a chance. We busted out laughing … and we promised each other we’d get together, have a few pints … tell stories …

We spoke again last Wednesday (May 26th). He called. It was in answer to an email I sent him. I could barely make out what he was saying, he was so weak. I could feel the hurt, the agony in his voice. The labour of his breathing. Him fighting just to speak. But it was too much. He had to leave off. It was too great a strain. Yet he took that time to call. To answer. To help me out. I’ll never forget that. I wish we could have spoken longer.

I’d begun a song a while back (“Kind Comfort Still”), but I stopped. I’d hit a roadblock with the lyrics (as is so typical with me), a verse and the chorus. This was before all of this happened, before it got bad with Howard. I wanted to ask him about some lines I was struggling with. Maybe even collaborate. It’s a rough draft … very rough … there are other verses, but here’s that part. I hope you don’t mind if I include it now … my frail attempt to say farewell …

He kicked his boot at the dirt again
Turned his face towards the silken crimson sun
Took off his hat, wiped the furrows above his eyes
Said: “This can’t be it, I ain’t quite done.”

It’s okay old friend, we’ll sing those Hank Williams songs
We’ll sing of that train, that sad whippoorwill
No need to be alone, just rest easy, easy now
Those memories, they’re kind comfort still

Ed Taylor

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I felt Howie’s big heart through his hugs and in his music. He was a favourite at Greg’s Tunes Afternoon for years.  He played, jammed, did sound, and generally contributed to the awesome atmosphere.

My favourite Howie song is Man Enough. It gets at the core of the experience of the alcoholic and those who love them, and it brought tears of recognition every time I heard it. 
We lost touch when he launched his open stage at Vimy Brewing, and it’s very cool to hear others’ stories of how he supported, encouraged, and mentored other folks in many ways. 

Safe travels, Howie. 

Christina Marchant 

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Howie is a legend.  A great guy. A music buddy.  Down to earth.  Never forgotten.  
An inspiration.  Always happy to help.  Always with a smile and a song.  Never forgotten.
A cowboy.  A rocker.  A melody maker.  Never forgotten.
Howie is a legend.  A great guy.  A musician’s buddy.  Down to earth.  Always remembered.

Keep playin’ buddy…

Jason DiTommaso

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I met Howie about a couple of years ago at the Whispers open mic. I remember him having encouraging words after I played my songs. It’s always nice to hear that and know that he was attentively listening. Fast forward to Howie’s open stage at Vimy Brewery and people working out their [or cover] songs live on stage. Howie always encouraged participants to play with other open stage artists and I really liked the collaborative aspect of his open stages. Howie also ran a songwriters group. His feedback on my songs was invaluable and I implemented some of his suggestions for my songs. I definitely grew as a songwriter via his Songwriting Circles and appreciated his willingness to help other songwriters evolve as artists. Thank you Howie. 

Yavor Kresic

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Howie, the Heart, I called him.

Howie offered to professionally record and produce an original song of mine when he heard me perform it at his open mic. I went to his home after having just recovered from a cough and was still raspy. He opened the door and I told him I wasn’t sure how my vocals were going to come through, but we could try.

Well, wouldn’t you know it! He liked my raspy voice and he sneak-recorded me – – and that song was given its voice.

We lost a great friend. In our last message exchange, he wrote, 
“Please try not to be saddened. This is the pathway I am on, and I am totally at peace. I have done all that needs to be done, so I can go with the flow.”

Go now with the flow, Howie, the Heart. 

We will miss you, but we will be listening for those velvet vocals from the skies. 

Jill Shipley 

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He was a gentle grump. I first met Howie at the Elmdale Tavern, where I ran an open mic called “Tuesday Tunesday”, which operated until 2012. Howie would sit on the side, leaning against the wall, wearing a skull cap and a serious scowl.

Scared the crap out of me.

He came to listen a few times before he went on stage himself.

That night he played “Amos” (or is it “Are You Man Enough”?).

My jaw dropped. Such a powerful, powerful song.

Over the years I created a music series called “Tunes At Noon”, which morphed into “Tunes After Noon” because it interfered with the establishment’s lunch business. Anyway, I invited Howie to perform one hour sets at Mooney’s Bay Bistro; The Black Irish (more than once) and at Moose McGuires, as well as hosting him at a house concert at our home.

He was always a welcome presence, and an audience favourite.

I visited Howie shortly after he received his stage four diagnosis and we had a good chat on his balcony.

He was at peace with what was to come, and I reminded him that even though people drift apart, they are still loved and respected.

I was thrilled that he and his dear friend Richard made it out to a driveway show that I played last summer at our friend Derek’s house.  I’m so glad that we talked to him and he found the strength to perform a couple of songs.

Thank you to Howie’s family for sharing him with us, and a big thank you to you, sir, for dropping into the Elmdale way back when.

Godspeed my friend.

Greg Kelly

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I knew Howie primarily through Spirit of Rasputin’s open mic and his hosting the open mic at Vimy Brew Pub. His regular spot close to the door at Whispers, cowboy hat in place, seated beside his buddy Paul Kent is how I met him.  He was quiet, maybe even aloof, but on stage I admired his powerful songwriting, heartfelt lyrics and musical skill.  

Over time I began to know Howie a bit better and he even shared some of his vast musical and technical info.  When I was scheduled to perform at a coffee house I asked Howie about his recommendation for a mic. He kindly shared his advice, but surprisingly offered the loan of one of his own microphones. I was a bit reluctant to accept, but he insisted and went out of his way to ensure I got it and knew how to use it.  This act of generosity and kindness characterizes Howie for me and I think his songs reflect that.  The people we know, the spirit they share, even in passing, enrich us all.  Thanks Howie.

John Glennie

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Hey Howie. Good to see you! Are you playing tonight?” Despite our endless year of Covid, it feels like only yesterday that I would have walked in and greeted Howie’s friendly face on a stool by the door at Whispers. It’s beyond strange and terribly sad to think he will no longer be there. 

Howie Hooper was a good, kind, gentle man, a supportive friend and a fine musician. As many have now said, he was always there with helpful advice, volunteering behind the sound board or hosting a great open stage at The Vimy.  Howie was the kind of guy you just assumed would always be there … and then suddenly, tragically, he is not. Howie leaves a big, benevolent, cowboy hat shaped hole in all of our hearts. 

I will miss you Howie. 🍃

Lynn Stevenson

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One less cup
One less chair
One less song
Left unshared.

A smile that listened 
Under a cowboy hat
Has left the stage
And won’t be back.

As friends we mourn.
As friends we grieve.
One less spoke
Has left the wheel.

I sat by the lake 
under a star-filled universe
One shot the sky
Guess you got there first.


Norman Doucette

I’m still grieving the loss of a great friend, a talented songwriter, and a great performer.  Howard was an integral part of the Ottawa music scene, and always took time to help others out with their music.  His ties to the Spirit of Rasputin’s community, the McKellar Park song circle, Writer’s Block, and many open mic venues across the city will ensure that his musical legacy will last forever.  He touched so many of us.

I knew him primarily from the McKellar Park song circle, and have been sharing music with him for over 12 years.  It’s hard to believe that I won’t be able to watch Howard perform one of his many great songs.  It leaves hole in our small community that will take a long time to heal.

God Speed Howard

Guy Landry

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So Howie Wrote A Song Called-
“Striking Matches”…
He Thought It Was A Throw Away Song.
He Put It Away…

Then He Was Doing A Show One Night.And After The Show Was Over…
Someone Came Up To Him And Said It Was A Great Show…
But He Was Disappointed Because He Had Come To The Show Wanting To Hear 
“Striking Matches”

Howie Told Him That He Had Thought It Was A Throw Away Song…
But Promised Him That He Would Revisit It…

It Ended Up On His Album.

And While I Have Grown Fond Of The Band Cut On The Album…
(Here A Must Insert My Clear Bias Always For-
Singer Songwriter And Guitar Style…)

I Told Howie That I Loved The Song In The Stripped Down Version…
Where It Gave The Lyric Space…
For The Listener To Contemplate-
“Why They Were Striking Matches”…
From Each Listeners Perspective…

And Not Long After That Discussion…
This Video Showed Up On His Site For All To See…

He Didn’t Only Record It For Me…
In Large Part He Did…
That Was The Kind Of Friend He Was…

I Love You Howie…
And Always Will…
Just Like I Told You…

(You Know What My Last Name Is…)

And here’s Howie with his song:

Striking Matches

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Well Howie, you were always serious about your song writing and I always enjoyed “talking songs” with you. We always talked about doing a gig together but I guess that’ll have to wait. 

Cheers old boy!

Ron Mills

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First a story… A while back I had the pleasure of being part of a weekend songwriting  workshop with Howie, Greg, and David. It was a lot of fun and one we all, I believe, came away the richer for it.

An  incident the previous week outside our apartment building:  I happened to be standing on the sidewalk when a guy in his car yelled an obscenity at a woman in her car. When the guy became aware that I had witnessed the exchange he stuck his head out his open window and yelled, ” And fuck you too!”

I can still see and hear Howie laughing at that story. “And fuck you too!”  became the “go to phrase” of our weekend.

Putting these thoughts of Howie  together today  I’m reminded of all the ways he modelled what we songwriters have to do — to go for it, push boundaries, take risks, make mistakes, say & do stuff that may not always garner widespread approval,  and do it in front of an audience!!  His example was a gift to us all  including his own version of “and fuck you too!”   to deal with the critical voices, the loudest of which are often the ones in our own heads. 

I first met Howie at Writer’s Bloc…he’d show up on Sundays with a song lyric on his phone, one that he’d probably written an hour before….immediately you could hear in his presentation the passion, the edginess, the hook, the owning of the idea.

He had some great songs  and they kept getting better!!  It was both inspiring and intimidating being in the room or on stage with him and feeling his presence, his conviction, his attention to delivering the song the way he felt and meant every word and gave the guitar a workout too!

Every time he commented on one of my songs his observations posed a question I had not considered, edited out a word or more I did not need, made a suggestion about a possible direction I had not thought of, one which I could tell had merit, if not always immediately, then later that day. 

Was that always easy to hear? No. But that was never the point: the song was the focus. I knew that, he understood that, took the risk and acted upon it. It was always about improving the song.

I feel genuinely blessed that our paths crossed, Howie, and like so many others, will miss seeing you in person, hearing your words and listening to you sing and play your songs. May you rest in peace my friend. 

Jim Robinson

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Howie Hooper, I will always remember the time I asked you to do a song for David Shackelton who was facing the same horrible disease that claimed you.

You brilliantly played it, in his presence at the Howie Hooper Evening Series at The Black Irish Pub.

I recorded it knowing it would never be sung again.

I will remember all your shows I’ve attended. All the songs I sang along and in times helping in on some forgotten lyrics. Lol!!!

I will always cherish our friendship and conversations we had about how you crafted your heartfelt songs.

You certainly made me appreciate a whole new genre of music and opened my heart to something new.

I will miss the times I would say good morning or good night to you.

I won’t forget this gentle giant .Now you can close your eyes, we will keep your memories alive!

One of my cherished songs from Howie, out of many, is “AGAIN”

Much love my dear friend.

Line Lalonde

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November 4th 2017, was the date Tara Shannon at Willow Sound Records chose to organize a “Songs and Stories” evening at Batstone’s Northern Ramble that was to feature Howie Hooper, Arlene Quinn and myself, Christophe Elie. 

That venue was Dean Batstone’s Live Music Haunt that he had purchased a few years back.. Arlene described this venue as “breathtaking..” And it was.. “in sight and sound”.  It’s an old Church in downtown Renfrew, it was a wonderful venue to play, with the leaning floor and the pews still in place. Sadly Dean recently and reluctantly sold the place.. 

With the show planned close to Remembrance Day, Howie and Arlene were on board with holding a little lottery, to raise some money for a great organization, for homeless veterans called VETS.  I think Arlene, Howie and I each contributed a CD, and people got a ticket for each donation. 

I remember the “In the Round”portion of the evening in particular, trading songs off of each other, hearing Arlene’s voice and songs for the first time.. and some new ones by Howie..  I’ll also never forget Howie taking to the stage with that big ole silver shimmery Gretsch of his, that I had never seen before.  Howie had just released his CD “The Art of Procrastination” and he had a copy for me, the thoughtful and generous guy that he was. 

We raised enough money that evening to buy a guitar for a Veteran. We were fortunate to have a warm and generous audience that evening and shared a memorable night together, Howie, Arlene, Dean, myself and that warm audience on that cool November night in Renfrew. 


Christophe Elie