Ray Condo: 1950 to 2004
Renowned as a firecracker performer with little regard for his health, the future or musical fashion, Ray Condo was just shy of his 54th birthday when he died of a heart attack in Vancouver on April 15.
Born Ray Tremblay in Hull, Quebec, Condo earned his nickname (“one-man condo”) while couch-crashing across Canada as he moved from Hull to Vancouver to Montreal and back to Vancouver. “He always had that itchiness, wanting to see over the next hill,” said Condo’s lifelong friend Andy Tait. Recalling that Condo was one of eight children in an unstable family, Tait adds, “The road was maybe where he was going to find some peace.”
During his 30-year career, Condo played bass for the punk-loving Secret V’s before forming the rockabilly band Ray Condo & the Hardrock Goners, which lasted eleven years. In the mid-’90s he formed a new rockabilly/swing outfit, Ray Condo & His Ricochets. Between the Goners and the Ricochets, Condo recorded half a dozen albums. In addition to singing, Condo played guitar and sax, paying homage to the vintage sounds of hot rockabilly, western swing, R&B and country.
Shortly after the release of the Ricochets’ last album, 2000’s High & Wild, Condo traded his guitar for a full-time job with the Canadian National Railway, re-emerging only recently when he started plotting a summer tour and played to a full house at the Derby in L.A.