Michael Landon is Dead

As it seems de rigueur to mention one’s former musical dalliances in places like this, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay heed to my own brief musical career, which lasted only for one hot summer in Peterborough, Ontario, a decade ago this year.

I was living in a room about 8 foot square fashioned out of the attic of an older house on George Street, north of the downtown. One reached said room by entering the upstairs hall closet and climbing straight up 10 feet. It was all very much like Lucy’s experiences on the way to Narnia. Although in my case all that was through the closet was a cramped little room where I couldn’t stand up, not a magical world.

My roommates were the resilient Richard Hamilton, who went on to social work in Halifax, the sprightful Diane Gallagher and her now erstwhile husband the musical Tim Piper and their lovely daughter Cassia. We were an unlikely lot, but got along quite well nonetheless. My strongest memories of that house are of scraping endless reams of wallpaper from the livingroom wall, of sitting on the back porch drinking Richard’s homemade beer, and of meeting and falling in love with the girl next door, who is by my side to this day.

Aforementioned Tim was handy with a guitar, and I had been given a guitar by my parents for my birthday several years earlier and so made a go of tagging along behind Tim on the porch. Eventually I started writing “songs” (inverted commas to indicate approximation) and, although I am at a loss to understand how this happened, Tim and I eventually ended up on stage together several times over the summer at the once-famous Tuesday Night Acoustic Potluck at the old Red Dog Tavern.

These evenings were a folk music “open mic,” hosted by the Laurel and Hardy like duo of Dan Fewings and musical partner Chris Lackerdas. With our guitars blazing (meaning mostly Tim leading the way and me hammering away trying to keep up), we sang songs of our own composition. These nights were among the most thilling of my life.

The most infamous song to emerge from my musical collaboration with Tim was one I started off and Tim finished and polished called Michael Landon is Dead. [Warning: if you like Michael Landon, or feel a soft spot in your heart for him, stop reading here]. It went something like this:

When we were very young,
There was a Man
Who launched himself into our lives
with Carefree Abandon.

Who was this man?
You may well ask…
Well in this song
we’ll tell you that…

Michael Landon is dead
He won’t be around to bug us anymore
Michael Landon is dead [so dead]
He won’t be around to bug us anymore

We watched him on Bonanza
And on Little House
And even on Highway to Heaven

Little Joe Cartwright
and Pa Ingalls
and an Angel named Jonathan Smith.

…and on and on from there. More than once we ran afoul of rabid Michael Landon fans who accused us [justly] of sacrilege. Other favourites of those times were songs like Kitchen Utensil Love, George Street and The Parkway (which contained the classic line “Oh the Parkway is a beautiful spot / I’d rather be there, than not”).

And then the summer ended. Tim and Diane got divorced (but remained happy and amicable), Richard followed his lady love to Halifax, and Catherine and I moved into a lovely apartment downtown, only to pick up a year later and most east to Charlottetown.

It was quite a nice surprise to receive a clipping in the mail last fall from Tim from the Peterborough Examiner highlighting the fact that he was one of the headliners at the Peterborough Folk Festival. My guitar is in its case upstairs in our Situation Room. Soon I’ll take it out again.


Dymphna Smith's picture
Dymphna Smith on May 21, 2003 - 02:10 Permalink

You may have heard some so-called Rabid Comments from the fans of Michael Landon….but you have not heard the last of em! For your info, I happened upon this site with curiosity. And when you talked about music I thought this was gonna be something totally different than it was. However you did give me a fair warning and you did speak your mind. But I doubt that C.S.Lewis whose writings you have mentioned would have ever bashed Michael Landon in his entire life. You could also say that C.S.Lewis is dead too. He was a great author and I am surprised you are not bashing him as well. The things he taught through Narnia are pretty much the same things Michael Landon taught through his shows. And the popular sport of Michael Landon bashing is NOT I REPEAT IS NOT a very popular one where I come from. Obviously you don’t believe in good pure wholesome family values that were taught through each of thes shows…especially through Highway to Heaven!!!!! Do you even believe in Heaven? From the way you bashed Michael Landon, it seems like you don’t even give a shit about Heaven. I tell ya, if somebody ever gave that album of yours to me, I would probably kill that person, and then destroy the cd by scratching it all up and stepping on its case till it cracks and then burning it until it becomes DEAD DEADER than my favorite actor! OH And By the way, ya big jerk, I do believe you are a terrible disgrace to the music industry and that by singing songs about anybody’s death rejoicing that they are gone because they bugged you is about as low as a person can possibly stoop! I certainly hope that if you ever go on another tour, all the strings on your damn guitar breat all at the same exat time and you are left standing there getting laughed at while you try desperately to fiddle around with them and try to fix them. And once you do have them fixed I hope you lose your fucking pic and then are not able to continue the stupid idiotic songs you play. Michael Landon I am sure is in Heaven right now and I know that using the language he used from “Highway to Heaven” “You will definately end up Downstairs” for dissing him. No he may not have been perfect but neither are you ya big schmuck! nad just because he may not have been the type of guy you wanted to be around, does that give you the right to bash him? I mean who died and made you Soul Patrol? Michael Landon may be dead physically but His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in the hearts of those who love him.

Alan's picture
Alan on May 21, 2003 - 04:31 Permalink

Gold, Peter, GOLD!!! You got the Landonites after you. Good even if a buddy of yours.

For Daymphna’s edification, we all used to call it Highway to Hell and, as with Missy Carpenter, had a something of a theme night on the day in question. It’s yesterday no more. It was juvenile but…I was too.

chris lackerdas's picture
chris lackerdas on August 1, 2003 - 23:54 Permalink

my name is chris lackerdas and i don’t remember chillin’ with dan fewings ever. who is dan fewings? i hate wallpaper and would never have hosted an open mic night anywhere near a wallpapered room. and i am not very fond of canada. never been there, thank you very much. plus, I couldn’t carry a tune if i were a girl and had it inserted in vitro style.

I also find it interesting someone else has my name, as my grandparents emigrated here from Greece and they americanized their name the exact same way. Not to mention I pretty much know all my relatives, and the lackerdas clan is not especially large.

While I harbor no ill will toward the late M. Landon, I find those lyrics hillarious. Keep up the good work writing songs, and stop using my name, god dammit.


chris lackerdas
california, USA

tim piper's picture
tim piper on November 15, 2003 - 06:24 Permalink

Well I just gotta say…wow. It’s funny how when one googles one’s own name and, while keenly aware of how sadly pathetic that must be, discovers a tiny bit of one’s history told by a good friend from the past….christ I lost my train of thought. Oh yeah Michael Landon. And it was Chris Lakerdas, Peter, not Lackerdas. Ran into him a few years back at den Elzen’s. And Peter, the best song we ever did was George St., bar none. The harmonies were sweet. Anyway it’s late and I have to go to bed. Can’t believe you have had this site for so long and I just discovered it in a fit of narcissism.


Ron's picture
Ron on February 14, 2004 - 18:55 Permalink

I, for 1, think Michael Landon had a lovley voice, was agreat actor and had the worlds pretiest face. I his younger days. I don`t think hi schould have changest his name. If people of anny kind said something about it I think he schuld have looked past them. But it`s probally the buisniss, how manny actors would keep their name if it was Eugene Mourice Oroviz.
Before I new that Michael was dead I wanted to marry him how old he was didnt bother me at al.

Does it wrilly mther that M. Landons lyrics were dumb? as I said before he had a lovley voice.

And I just want to say to D. smith:- Don`t be a fucking jugd maker. You talk like M. Landon was the worst bastard ever. If you would do some more reading `bout him you would se what kina man hi was. But it proally would not help, since non of us wrilly know this man.

In my 14years in this life I have always bin a BIG fan of him, and I will keep on being it.


Dan Fewings's picture
Dan Fewings on March 16, 2004 - 21:16 Permalink

Hey I am Dan Fewings and I knew the real Chris Lakerdas, played with him every Tuesday night for 3 years at the red Dog Tavern in peterborough.

Round and round it goes.

Chris Lakerdas's picture
Chris Lakerdas on March 14, 2005 - 20:10 Permalink

I’m the other ‘Chris’ — the musical one. I’m floored that there’s another Chris La(c)kerdas in this world.
Dan and I hosted the Acoustic Potluck in the Patch for a few years. I had no idea that Peter was going to sing a song dissing Micheal Landon. Oh well, that wasn’t the only blaspheming that went on — you should have heard what we did to ‘Moonshadow’.

revken's picture
revken on July 18, 2007 - 15:54 Permalink

Hi Peter…your old pal reverend ken commenting that yes…I can verify your vitriolic michael landon chanson…was really good. I think you really must have hated him to PCSS. I will pray for him, and for your gadflying soul!
reverend ken

andy hynes's picture
andy hynes on May 4, 2012 - 18:44 Permalink

Fewings you old fart how the heck are you. How dare you replace me in a guitar duo! Outrageous. Anyway, hope you are doing well ever go back to Simcoe?