Alumni Spotlight | Spring 2022

Rock 'n' Roll Forever

Nick joining the KISS Army

Bob Klanac

Bob Klanac has never been short on drive and ambition. While still a high school student, he became a music critic for Lakehead University's student newspaper – The Argus. And although he later studied English and sociology at Lakehead from 1977 to 1980, music remained his true love.

It's a passion that he shares with his friend Nick Panaseiko – a legendary Canadian music promoter. Nick is the subject of Bob's new book Promo Man: Backstage Tales from the Vinyl Jungle released in November 2021.

Alumnus Bob Klanac

Bob Klanac is an acclaimed music journalist who serves as a juror for the Polaris Heritage Prize and the Juno Awards. As a communications consultant, he's written for clients around the world on a variety of topics. He's currently working on another book.

Promo Man offers an inside look at Nick's adventures with the biggest names in the rock industry – from Blondie and The Cars to the Rolling Stones and The Who.

He got his start early by bringing bands from Canada and the United States to play in his hometown of London, Ontario. In fact, in 1965 at the age of 17, Nick arranged to have Diana Ross & The Supremes drive from Detroit, braving a fierce winter storm, to play at the London Arena.

This was an unexpected turn for Nick's life to take. His parents escaped Ukraine during the Second World War and Nick was born in a German refugee camp in 1946. It was only after several years of moving around Europe that the family was able to settle in Canada.

Nick thrived in his new homeland. By 1974 he'd been hired as a promoter by Quality Records, a company that represented all the US labels in Canada except for WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) and Sony. He moved to WEA Music in 1978.

"Before there were just sales teams, Nick created the promoter job," Bob explains. "The goal was to get attention for performers on the radio, in newspapers, and in music industry magazines like Billboard."

Nick was just the guy to do it. He was creative, friendly, and he didn't have a big ego. "I don't know anyone in the music business who doesn't like Nick," Bob says. Now retired, Nick's legacy hasn't been forgotten. In 2018 the promo man was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Richardson Music Hall of Fame.

Nick Panaseiko with Kiss band member receiving an awardNick booked Kiss's first Canadian concert at London's Centennial Hall in 1974 with Rush as the opening act. "At the time nobody really knew Kiss," he says. A few years later, Kiss presented Nick with a platinum record for their Destroyer album. On the back were the words: Thanks for Taking Care of Business Since Day One.

Freddie Mercury and Nick Panaseiko at a Toronto nightclubWe Are the Champions: Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the iconic rock band Queen, played in Canada several times in the 1970s. Nick secretly brought Mercury to gay clubs in Toronto. At the time, Mercury was hiding his sexual orientation out of fear that it would harm his music career.

Nick Panaseiko and Donna Summer Hug

When Disco Reigned Supreme: Donna Summer, known as the "Queen of Disco," visited Canada to promote the soundtrack to the 1977 adventure film, The Deep. Summer sang the movie's theme song, Down Deep Inside, which was nominated for a Golden Globe award. To create buzz, Nick visited radio stations dressed in a wetsuit and scuba gear.

Van Halen and Nick with the band's gold record for the debut album

Van Halen Takes the Stage: Nick brought Van Halen to Canada to promote their 1978 self-titled debut album, and he was onstage with the rockers when they celebrated their record going gold. According to Nick, during the same visit, Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth "wanted to roller skate right down Yonge Street. So, we rented a limo to tow him, and he did it for about ten blocks without any helmet or pads."

Publicity Photo of Shania Twain

A Superstar is Born: Nick discovered Shania Twain in 1987 when he hired her to perform at the Deerhurst Inn north of Toronto. Twain was only 21 years old at the time and supporting her four siblings after their parents were killed in a car crash. It was at Deerhurst that Twain was signed to Mercury Records, a U.S. label, and the rest was history.

You can purchase a copy of Promo Man at the Entershine Bookshop in Thunder Bay or on Amazon Canada by clicking here.

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