John Cosway’s 80th

It’s John Cosway’s 80th  Birthday!

Let’s celebrate John Cosway as he turns 80 years young on April 11, 2022.

Avid WT readers will remember John and his Cosway’s Corner, page 4, for over 10 years.

Born in Toronto in 1942, he was always an independent and enterprising spirit. 

A retired newsman,  John started at age 12 as a carrier for the Toronto Star, later a copy boy at the Globe and Mail, then worked at a number of Ontario and British Columbia newspapers before retiring after spending 19 years at the Toronto Sun.

John’s love of music started at home, but his first exposure to a rendition of “I Forgot to Remember to Forget Her” during a variety night at the Central Technical School Annual Exhibition, changed his musical leanings forever. 

A photographer and reporter, John would attend concerts on his own time, from venues like Maple Leaf Gardens to Mariposa, to Calgary for the Festival Express train and to Vancouver.

   John talks about his life and events in a book he wrote and self-published: “Brushes With Fame – Photo Tripping With Music Legends.”

In 2017, with his 75th birthday approaching, John decided to resurrect all of his images and create a photo/text book of memories. For the next year and a half, he devoted countless hours scanning the negatives which sat untouched in a gold shirt box for almost 50 years.

  The result, a 250-page book, with 190 mostly unpublished photos of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Little Stevie Wonder, Buddy Rich and other greats from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.       

Performers: Ronnie Hawkins, Pete Seeger, Gordon Lightfoot, Joey Hollingsworth, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Frankie Avalon, Petula Clark, Kelly Jay, Tex Ritter, June Carter, Delaney and Bonnie etc. 

Broadcasting icons: Dave Mickie / Marsden, Mike Darow, Freddy Vette, Jack Cullen, Terry David Mulligan and Ray Sonin.

Record executive Charlie Camilleri and his son, Ron himself a former record executive, now an Elton John tribute artist, Elton Rohn.

The following excerpts are from John’s life in his own words:  “Throughout the 1950s, the Toronto Star offered its newspaper carriers a wide variety of tantalizing prizes to be won in subscription contests. Shy as I was, door-to-door canvassing for new subscribers on streets throughout the Annex came easy to me. Strangers responded to the pleas of the blond, blue-eyed boy at their front doors who needed “just a few more” folks to sign up for the daily paper or the Star Weekly.        

“My rewards included bicycles, radios, hundreds of dollars in commissions… and my dream prizes – five consecutive annual trips to New York City…

“During my final New York carrier trip in January of 1959, I saw an ad in the New York Daily News for a live Alan Freed’s Christmas Jubilee… 17 popular artists and groups, including Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Dion and the Belmonts, Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Avalon, Ritchie Valens, Jackie Wilson, The Crests etc. The choice, “… an exciting Toronto Maple Leafs / New York Rangers hockey game [at Madison Square Garden] versus a live, 17-act Alan Freed rock and roll event. Rock and roll won out.”

In the past few years, John has co-edited a number of books and is also compiling his own family tree. 

John keeps the Toronto Sun Family Facebook page active as administrator and for the 50th Anniversary, researched and created two Memorial videos.

Although John’s wish for his 80th birthday was to wake up in New York City in a hotel near Times Square, it will remain on his bucket list. Overlooking Niagara Falls will have to do.    

Best wishes,  John!

4 Replies to “John Cosway’s 80th”

  1. What a wonderful summary of an amazing career. Beat wishes John for your birthday John, maybe next year New York. Hugs Laurie Zabolotny

  2. Rick Paterson says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Great legacy of reporting on all the experiences you have had.

    Keep the candles burning and hope to see you soon to celebrate your milestone.

  3. Elizabeth Lopatnikow says:

    Wow…. very impressive and exciting bio John. Your determination, accomplishments are dreams never to be forgotten. Kèep on ticking John you still have a lot umph!!

  4. Hugh Wesley says:

    One of a kind, kind man I’m happy to have met and worked with at the Toronto Sun. His passion for history and connecting people and stories, is the reason over 500 former Toronro Sun employees stay connected. Thks John and happy 80th.

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