There have been many loving tributes to Peter J. Moore since his passing on November 11, 2023. We found this one, written by Kerry Doole, on the Billboard Canada website (ca.billboard.com/fyi). Please take a few minutes to read about Peter’s remarkable career, his love of music, and his mastery of the audio craft. Rock’n’roll heaven has gained a stellar engineer and producer. RIP Peter.
Peter J. Moore, a Grammy-winning record producer, engineer and mixer, died on Nov. 11, at age 67, after a long fight with cancer. The Toronto-based Moore is best known for his pioneering production work on The Trinity Session, the breakthrough album for Cowboy Junkies, but his vast list of credits includes work on albums by major international stars and a large and diverse group of independent Canadian artists.
His official website notes that “originally from Hamilton, Ontario, by the age of six Moore owned a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder. By the age of sixteen, he had a large audiophile stereo system and a small home studio. In 1976, while at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Moore and a few other students started the campus radio broadcast station CHRW. He was the on-air DJ for the new music program covering the Punk Rock and New Wave scene. “At that time most records from the current artists were imported from England, which created a problem fulfilling the radio’s ‘33% Canadian content’ ruling. Since there were very few Canadian releases, Moore started recording the live shows of local and touring Canadian punk rock bands at his own expense and playing them on his radio show, ‘The Simon Less Radio Program.'”
A longtime close friend of Moore, musician/DJ Pete Lambert recalled to FYI that “Peter and I met in 1980 while he was going to school in London, Ontario. I immediately loved his passion for sound. He could be found by the soundboard at every significant show in town, his binaural headphones firmly planted in each ear. Many of these live recordings of local and international bands ended up on his radio show on CHRW (a station he helped set up). Peter would do the graveyard shift on the radio and I would go there with him and we’d just play the most noisy and alternative music we could find in the library. We played all 8 sides of Yoko Ono’s first two solo albums in a row!” In 1979, while still studying for a degree in anthropology, Moore founded a record label called Silent Head Records and provided a rehearsal space in his own rented house for the local punk scene. By 1981, his self taught producing/engineering skills had reached a professional level and he branched out into other forms of music such as jazz and classical. After graduating UWO in 1982, he founded MDI Productions (incorporated in
1986) and moved his operation to Toronto. Moore continued to produce rock, jazz, and classical recordings as well as film and TV scores.
In 1985, he was approached by Adcom Electronics, Canada’s largest professional video supplier, to create and manage a new audio division. His duties included designing and outfitting professional music, film, and television studios throughout Canada such as Film House, CBC Toronto, Pathe, Manta, CBC Montreal, Sounds
Interchange, Eastern, PFA, Sound House, CBC Vancouver.
A pivotal career moment came in 1988 when Moore produced the now famous one-microphone recording, Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Session, released by RCA New York in 1989. This became an international success story, selling more than 2 million copies in the first year. He left his employment at Adcom and worked producing, mastering and restoring music full-time ever since. Early production credits included albums by The Holly Cole Trio, The Corndogs, The Razorbacks, Willie P. Bennett, Wild Strawberries, and The Viletones. Moore was the music producer/engineer/mixer for the 1996 cult favourite movie Hard Core Logo. He wrote three of the songs and co-wrote with Swamp Baby the rest of the songs acted out by Hard Core Logo. His work on Hard Core Logo won him, and his co-writers, the 1996 Genie Award for Original Song. Later in his career, Moore became known as a master at re-mastering analog media for the digital age. Alchetron noted that “When a long-lost tape of Joni Mitchell’s was found, her Amchitka benefit concert for the birth of Greenpeace, it was brought to Moore who ‘painstakingly restored each minute of the 40-year-old tapes.'” A similar challenge was brought to Moore in 2013 when Garth Hudson of The Band decided it was time to digitalize the Basement Tapes which he had recorded throughout 1967 while Bob Dylan was recuperating at Music from Big Pink after his 1966 motorcycle accident. Moore “mastered the set, transferring the originals.” Garth Hudson reported that “Peter Moore with his incredible talent …. assembled and revived tape that had been crinkled, stretched.” “Several reels were mouldy and Moore had to delicately unwind and re-spool some 1,800 feet of ‘very, very thin’ reel-to-reel tape by hand on a few others to ‘flatten them out.'” The resulting Complete Basement Tapes package earned critical acclaim and strong sales, and Moore and longtime associate Jan Haust won a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album in February 2016. Read more on that project in this FYI feature. Moore often collaborated with Haust on recordings that were released on the latter’s label, Other Peoples Music (OPM).
Moore’s rare skills in restoring and remastering tapes were put to use in 2018 on Joe Strummer 001, a career-spanning archive of work by The Clash frontman that included a full album of unreleased Strummer songs. Over the decades, Moore amassed a highly impressive list of credits of artists with whom he worked as producer, engineer, mixer, or masterer. These included such major artists as Neil Young, Garth Hudson, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Joe Strummer, Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, Neko Case, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Finger Eleven, The Sadies, Sloan, Jr Gone Wild, Ian Tyson, Doughboys, Killjoys, Rough Trade, Art Bergmann, Silos, Michael Kaeshammer, Quartette, S.C.O.T.S, and many many more, but also hundreds of relatively unknown independent Canadian artists. Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies told FYI that “Peter was a champion and benefactor of the independent Canadian music scene. His genius was largely ignored by the major labels in this country, but he was responsible, through his mastering skills, for increasing the audio quality of hundreds of independent releases. He was also instrumental in helping dozens of independent artists take creative control of their music by generously sharing his enormous wealth of recording and audio knowledge so that they could create their own recording environments.” In an interview with FYI in 2016, Moore attributed his versatility as a jack of all studio trades to the fact that “working in Canada you have to be able to do many different things.
When I’ve worked in some studios in the States, they go ‘Here’s the recording engineer, here’s the mixer, here’s the producer, here’s our mastering engineer. What do you do?’ I say ‘all of those things.’” In 1991, Moore was nominated for a Juno Award for Producer of the Year, and in 1992 he earned another Juno nomination, in the Engineer of the Year category. Moore served as President of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in the late 1980s and was in demand as a guest speaker and panelist at such conferences as Pro Audio and Light (PAL)
Conference and the AES Conference.
When not happily toiling away at his craft in his downtown Toronto studio, Moore could often be found checking out live music, and he was a warm and gregarious presence at such events as the annual music industry bash, The Radio and Records party. He will indeed be greatly missed. Here is a selection of the many tributes to Moore shared on social media since news of his passing. Nicholas Jennings: “Sad news that Peter J. Moore, a renowned record producer and audio restoration specialist, has passed. Peter’s extensive work includes his famous one- microphone recording The Trinity Session, by Cowboy Junkies. Together with his longtime associate Jan Haust, he won a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album for his work on The Complete Basement Tapes, featuring Peter’s immaculate restoration of recordings made by Bob Dylan and The Band. Peter’s legacy looms large. Condolences to his friends and family.” Jan Haust: “I called Garth Hudson at his Woodstock nursing home this past Sunday to let him know our great friend and collaborator Peter Moore had died late Saturday night. “Oh no! Not Peter…no, no not Peter, oh no” cried Mr. Hudson, audibly upset. Someone
needed to inform him…not a call you wish to make to your 86-year-old friend.
And so I said ‘Hey Garth? You played for Richard, you played for [songwriter/producer] Henry Glover, Rick and Levon too.’ Yes, I did,’ he replied quietly. ‘Well, now you need to play a song for Peter.’ ‘OK, Jan, I’m going to play a song for Peter too.’ I visited the studio today, now just a big empty space. Though my collaborator of 35 years
is gone, Peter’s musical spirit will certainly live on.” Michael Timmins – Cowboy Junkies (to FYI): “Peter Moore was a friend and a collaborator who had an enormous effect on my band’s recorded music over the last 37 years. He will be truly missed.”
Pete Lambert: ” His fascination with capturing the moment led to his most notable achievement, the Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session. His and the Junkies collaboration spat in the face of the overproduced hair bands of the day and established a trend towards live recording that has become the norm. Joe Strummer, after telling him how much it cost to record TS (just over $200), said to me “Wow, now that’s Punk Rock!” He also said it was
one of his favourite albums. As Peter was a BIG Clash fan, this was just about the height of cool for him. I always said he was the best set of ears in the business. This is a huge loss and has left a massive hole in the industry. RIP Peter J. Moore. Gone too soon.” Judith Coombe (Starfish Entertainment): “Love to all of my friends who love Peter J. Moore. He worked on so many of our records, and his passing over the weekend is a huge
loss to many in my life. My thoughts immediately sprung to Dallas [Good of The Sadies] when I heard the news this morning. They spent so many hours together. Rest in peace, Peter.”
Rae Billing: “One of my early memories of Peter was the first time I was in the studio with him. He was recording Crybaby and we were all amped up, overwhelmed by the situation. Peter had such a rep from his Cowboy Junkies success, and we wanted to live up to what he had heard in our live performance. As you can imagine, things weren’t going so well. We couldn’t seem to climb inside the music. So Peter had the lads take a little break and he brought out playing cards and started doing magic tricks. It wasn’t long before the
guys were laughing and going, “Come on!… How’d you do that… ?” and things just kinda eased up and when they got back to it, it started to flow. The band settled down and started to play like a band.”
“To say he was a perfectionist is somehow inaccurate. Perfection implies an endpoint –
for Peter, it was an ongoing journey of creating better and better sound. He loved the long
road, the problem-solving aspect of it. Every recording was a new set of demands. This is
probably why he also loved restoration work, like the Amchitka album or the Basement
Tapes, because he was never quite certain it would work out. Each one was a unique
challenge. And he was completely devoted to getting it to sound the very best it could.
“For all his accomplishments, he was probably happiest sitting at his overflowing kitchen
table staring through the circular light of the magnifying ring at some soundboard where
he was carefully soldering some capacitor to ‘hot rod’ an amp into better sound. He’d be a
little keyed up at what he knew he could get it to do. It made me laugh when he hot-
rodded his coffee espresso machine to ensure the water was at exactly the right
temperature to produce the optimal cup of coffee.
“I once mentioned to another person that Peter had won a Grammy. Afterwards, Peter
said that he wished I wouldn’t tell people that. I thought he’d be proud of it, and he was,
but he said that people treated him differently after knowing about it. So, while many
folks would covet the acclaim, he wasn’t really all that into it. I think he felt it created a
kind of separation. Though he definitely liked acknowledgement of things he’d achieved,
he was never particularly interested in acclaim. Which is probably why he was sitting at a
cluttered kitchen table in Toronto, instead of working in New York or L.A..”
Samantha Martin: “Peter J. Moore. Don’t call him Pete, but you better call him because he
wasn’t a fan of text and email. I should have called more often. I’ll cherish the wisdom,
advice and patience he shared with me in the countless hours in his control room
mastering my albums, and while we recorded Send The Nightingale there. I learned so
much about audio, recording, songcraft, coffee, gin and solar flares from Peter. I am so
sorry you are no longer Earthside with us making the world sound bigger, better and a
little less harsh. I’m sorry we didn’t get to see each other recently but I’ll think of you
often. Condolences to Peter’s nearest and dearest as well as the no doubt thousands of
music community folks who have had a chance to cross paths with his generous spirit.
Rest easy Peter.”
Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo): “He was obsessive in the best possible way, always trying to
improve the quality of his sounds. He had a big heart and a big brain. Will miss him.
Grateful for what he gave us.”
Mariposa Folk Festival: “The Canadian music community has suffered a significant loss
with the death of Canadian music producer extraordinaire Peter J. Moore. He produced
albums for such bands as The Cowboy Junkies, Willie P. Bennett, Doughboys, Stephen
Fearing, Jr. Gone Wild, The Mahones, Oh Susannah, Ian & Sylvia Tyson, The Ugly
Ducklings and many more.”
Greg Jarvis: “I tracked down Peter in 2009 when the Flowers Of Hell were to play a
Toronto church. He’d famously recorded one of my favourite albums, The Cowboy
Junkies’ Trinity Session – done in a local church using just one mic. I was shocked at the
rate he initially quoted me. It was then I found his recent projects including Neil Young,
Joni Mitchell, and The Band. But he had me send our music and upon hearing it, he was up
for recording us – and I was soon in the studio learning tricks directly from one of my
favourite producer/engineers. We became friends and he’s worked on everything I’ve
ever done since – including co-producing our Odes album with me. Previously when
engineers would ask what sound I was going for, I’d ask if they knew The Trinity Session –
now I had The Trinity Session mastermind himself at the helm!
“During the pandemic when Peter told me he had terminal cancer, I asked how he was
taking the news – and I loved his reply, “I’m pissed off! I’ve just gotten my sound to where
I want it to be!” He loved his work so much that, rather than travelling the earth, he chose
to spend his last bit of life carrying away in the studio as much as he could. I’ll miss him as
a friend, a collaborator, and a mentor, though what I’ll perhaps miss most is no longer
having the magic warmth of his sound on our music. Ever honoured to have gotten to
know him and work with him.”
Derek Downham: “Peter J. Moore was a force and his talents and kindness will be sorely
missed. The man with the golden ears. Rest in peace to a sweet man and a true genius.
Thanks for all you gave us, Peter.”
Doug McClement: “Goodbye to my long-time friend Peter Moore, one of the greatest
mastering engineers ever to come out of Canada. I first met Peter back in the 80s when he
was an audio equipment salesman for Adcom, and running his recording business on the
side. He loved good audio more than anyone I’ve ever met and was my go-to guy
whenever I needed an unbiased opinion on a mix. The best ears in town. And never short
“Was lucky to sit with him for an hour back in the summer at the Radio and Records
gathering on the patio in front of Roy Thomson Hall. He knew then that he didn’t have
much time left, but he was excited about projects he was working on nonetheless. I’ll
never forget the time he was giving a guest lecture on mastering at Harris, and one of my
students asked him, ‘Mr. Moore, can I master my own recordings? and Peter replied, ‘Let
me put it this way. You can cut your own hair, but everybody will know!’ Safe travels,
Bob Roper: “Saddened to learn of the passing of Peter J. Moore. He was a brilliant
producer, audio engineer, tape archivist, Grammy winner… and all-around good guy.
During my years at Harris Institute, he willingly, and whenever asked, would come to the
school to humorously and informatively impart his knowledge and wonderful stories to
the students. He will be missed and remembered.
Terry Brown: “Peter was so talented – a wealth of information, mastering with him was
more than just mastering. In addition he would impart musical knowledge, hip me to the
latest gear, bring me up to date on protocols & play me his latest projects. His work was
of the utmost quality, he will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”
Michael Phillip Wojewoda: “RIP Peter J. Moore. Shared shawarmas on Bloor with nuanced
mastering beta complete with world-weary cynicism and laughter.”
Don Pyle: “Keeping Peter J Moore in my thoughts and heart today after hearing of his
death from cancer. I worked with Peter so much over the years, on various Sadies
records, recording and mastering a few film scores I did, remastering and restoring about
100 tracks for the Shadowy Men box set, mastering almost everything I did over the past
30 years or so. Other than always getting sick the next day from his pipe smoking, he was
so great to work with. Full of funny, gossipy stories and so brilliant and generous
“He taught me a lot about recording and mixing, but I always left the mastering to him –
something he was a true artist at. I can hear him laughing telling me how he had to
remove his sliding patio doors to get Neil’s guitar rig inside. You had to measure any
question you had for him against how much work you still had to do, and be prepared for
a long, detailed and funny answer. My love to his partner Claire, a sweet presence in
Peter’s life. Rock on always, Peter Moore. You will be missed.”
Evelyn Cream: “So sorry to hear Peter J. Moore has left us. He was an audio genius and a
wonderful person. Worked with him on 2 projects and always loved our conversations,
learned so much about audio and the history of audio from him. Thank you Peter for your
contribution to great music.”
John Borra: “I’m very sad about the passing of my friend and mentor Peter Moore. I
learned so much about recording and mixing from Peter. He was always there to answer a
question or help me through a problem and always had time for me. And of course, it was
always a pleasure to make records with him at the helm. He was a good friend and I will
miss him dearly. RIP old chum.”
Sources: CBC As It Happens, Wikipedia, FYI, Discogs, Official website,