Tuesday 10 October 2023

Cal Cavendish - This is Cavendish Country (1973)

Calgary lost a legend last month - and sadly with very little fanfare. Calvert Henry Ashley Emile Cavendish left us on September 22, 2023, passing away at the Rockyview Hospital from medical complications.

Cal Cavendish has a folk hero status with us here at the CCPS, thanks largely to his manure-and-record aerial stunt that was immortalized in Kris Demeanor's Buzz Job. His story was bigger than just that one flyby, of course:

Cal was 83 years young on passing and was born on August 17, 1940 in Plymouth, Michigan. His parents were Redvers Henry Ashley Emile Cavendish and Mary Beulah Cavendish. He is survived by his brother, Winston Cavendish and his two previous wives, Catherine Cavendish and Shirley Cavendish. He is also survived by his 6 children, Chad Hande, Sherry Hande, Tanya Hande, Alix Hillman, Scott Cavendish and Victoria Wilkinson.
Cal was a man of many talents and careers. He was employed as a security guard, pilot, photographer, musician and truck driver. In fact, he was distinguished as “Employee of the Year” with Dick Irvin Trucking. He was also recognized on three separate occasions for a Million Mile Safe Driving Award. As a pilot, he won the Transcanada Belvedere Air Dash in 1974.

Cal was quite proud of his service in the Canadian Reserves, Banff Artillery Militia and loved telling stories of his service. Cal lived in many places during his time with us including; Louisiana, Texas, Nashville, Crossfield, Calgary and numerous other places where his adventures took him. Cal had a wide variety of hobbies and interests that he pursued with great passion, including; songwriting, performing, playing various musical instruments, and flying ultralights and aircraft. He was also an avid fisherman, hunter, range shooter, archer, storyteller, inventor, traveler, mechanic, motorcycle enthusiast, classic car enthusiast, adventurer, photographer and Sunday school teacher. Cal was a member of numerous music associations including SOCAN. He also created his own publishing companies; COP Publications, and Tac Card Records.

Cal had deep faith and loved dropping into churches of any denomination to share the message of God and connect with different people. All who knew Cal understood that music was his passion. Cal’s countless adventures from Louisiana to the Northwest Territories inspired his songs. He was a pioneer and prolific musician that was internationally recognized. He is credited with hundreds of songs, singles, records, tapes, and CD’s. and even a few plays and movies. His whole life was an inspiration for his music and stories that were clearly authored for the “common man”.

(from Cal Cavendish's obituary)  

 That hints at some of the many stories that pop up in Cavendish's story, like earning the nickname "Cornfield Cal" by other pilots after getting lost in a 2,600 mile plane race in Ontario... or this one, where he booked the Jubilee Auditorium for his 1994 comeback show at the age of 53:

But Cavendish wasn't just shenanigans - he was a prolific and lauded songwriter, with early reviews comparing him to Gordon Lightfoot and Woody Guthrie. This is Cavendish Country - his third full-length LP - is a great snapshot of that songwriting, with lighter moments "Foreign Cows" tempering the more melancholic, like the excellent album closer, "1:00 A.M. Calgary."

Our condolences go out to Cal's family and friends. We hope he's flying out there somewhere.