Gothe is Off the Air

An editor's note.

Jurgen Gothe passed, not so quietly but peacefully enough, earlier this month. In a kind of pre-wake, at which Jurgen acted as bon vivant and host, he drank a few cold beers, praised some of the Okanagan wines being poured, which he was an early and ardent supporter of, and delivered a charming, highly, if drily, amusing repartee about a filmed tribute that played that sunny afternoon.

His glory days as host of CBC’s Disc Drive were remarkable for the face (and voice) value, but it is not an overly known, and thus under-appreciated, fact that he went largely unscripted for the show. It was a matter of matching his thoughts and observations to the tone and heft of whatever music was on the playlist that day. He would, on occasion, ask to be telephoned at his CBC studio, and when he answered the phone, he would begin his query or comments, and then suddenly say, “I’ll be right back.” You could hear him place the receiver down, and then, surprising, he would be intoning in that unmistakeable on-air voice, nearly an octave lower than his normal speaking voice.  So, you could simply listen to him do his show, from the other end of the telephone. After he was done that segment, he would pick up the phone to finish his conversation, about this or that story he was writing.

Some of the stories he pitched, the range and eclectic nature of them, exemplify what he was really about, which is an intrepid and always undiminished passion for the arcane, the quirky, and the best. He was pals, for example, with John Tanqueray, with whom he consumed more than a few dry martinis over the years. He also dined at what was, in the day, Machiavelli’s favourite restaurant, and he was way ahead of the curve on Nordic cuisine. He was also perhaps the world’s leading expert in, and proponent of, good old-fashioned mustard.

In the office he used to keep in the Hotel Vancouver, there were case upon case of wines on the floor, and shelves absolutely jammed full of compact discs and books. Those legendary dinner parties achieved that status with good reason. Yes, he did all the shopping. Yes, he did all the cooking. Yes, he chose the wines, served everything, and cleaned it all up. And the après-dinner music was really a master class in under-appreciated gems, such as Petra Haden’s completely a capella cover album of The Who’s The Who by Numbers. Amazing. She could see for miles, as, it seems, Jurgen could.  He was a seeker, and delighted in sharing all the great things in this world he found.  That counts as a loss, but serves as a great reminder to live your life well.

Photo via CBC Music.



Post Date:

May 8, 2015