It’s with great sadness we pass on the news that Peter Traynor, the co-founder of Traynor Amplifiers, passed away over the weekend. Peter Traynor and Jack Long began Traynor Amplifiers, which eventually evolved into Yorkville Sound, in the basement of the original Long & McQuade Store in 1963. As the company says, his innovative design concepts, practical solutions, and desire to build rugged and reliable equipment for musicians led to the founding of the brand that still carries his name more than 50 years later, making him an icon in the Canadian music industry to this day. His brilliant mind was matched by his desire for fun and excitement and stories of Peter Traynor are legendary in the Canadian music community.
Neil Traynor, Peter’s nephew, wrote on Facebook [minor edits made for clarity]: “I don’t know how to say this; my heart is shattered, my Uncle, the great Peter Traynor, co-founder with Jack Long of Traynor Amplifiers/Yorkville Sound, has passed away. He was my hero growing up. He gave me, the country, and the world, rock ‘n’ roll. His intelligence, kindness, generosity, and humour knew no bounds, and his name and enormous accomplishments will live on for years to come. He was a true believer and disciple of rock ‘n’ roll and as a musician, and later a designer and builder of amplifiers, as well as being one of the first proper concert sound men in North America, he helped make and shape the direction and history of that music. He quit high school at 16 to be a musician, when you could do that and make a living, and never looked back. He was the most innately intelligent person I ever knew – anything he was interested in, he read and studied and became an instant expert on – the first Traynor amps were built by him by hand in the basement of my grandparents’ house at 23 Parkland Road. He did so much for me my whole life – doing sound and bringing his all his gear out for so many of the shows I played with different groups over the years, lending and sometimes giving me equipment it would have been impossible for me to access otherwise. On my 19th birthday, my first band, L.S.Tea, was performing a show and he came out, with all his gear, to do the sound. He told me my birthday present was in the trunk of his car and when I opened it, inside was his 1968 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top – I still to this day cannot believe that. The memories are flooding me, and I ache… to have him think after many years of effort on my part that I did in fact have talent was all the praise I’ll ever need in this world. I loved him so much, and this isn’t even remotely the tribute I want to write, or the one he deserves, but it’s the best I can do at the moment. It isn’t fucking fair. We all think we have all the time in the world with the ones we love, we’re all wrong. Good bye Uncle Peter…I love you…”
In 2013, Professional Sound‘s sister publication, Canadian Music Trade, spoke with Jack Long about the history of Yorkville Sound. In that conversation, Jack shared memories of the early days working with Peter Traynor. “We were about as different as two people could be. We were total opposites in every way. You pick a thing and we would be opposites. Oddly enough, we always got along. We never had a disagreement and still haven’t to this day. We never had a disagreement, we just got along. We kind of respected each other for what we brought to the table and that was that. He deferred to me on the things he thought I knew about and I deferred to him on the things I thought he knew more about,” recalled Long to CMT. “Peter was not a brilliant engineer. What his skill was, was seeing the market. He could kind of see what people were going to want. He could look ahead. Like with the idea of the sound columns. It was basically a very simple idea but nobody thought of it, which in retrospect is, ‘Oh, come on, you’ve got to be kidding.’ I’m not kidding, nobody thought of it. But that was Peter; that was sort of his thing. He could think of those things that other people either didn’t think of or didn’t think they were worth thinking about or whatever… He also had some other skills. He was very quick with what he did. If he was going to design an amp, he could do it in about a quarter of the time anybody else could. Or repair an amp. He could repair five amps while somebody else was looking at the first one. He had certain skills that were really terrific.”
Professional Sound sends our deepest condolences to Peter Traynor’s family, friends, and colleagues.