Earl Seymour (tenor and baritone saxophone, EWI-Steiner) was born on Sept.13, 1951 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Earl was born the third of four children. His parents, the late Art and Wanda Seymour, encourage Earl to take up the clarinet at the age of 9, and he continued until he reached high school, where he began his romance with the saxophone.
After high school, Earl started his professional music career touring with and Edmonton rock band called, “The Privilege.” When he returned from the road, he was hired by Tommy Banks and played baritone sax in Mr. Bank’s big band. The band travelled to Montreux in Switzerland and recorded and album entitled, “1978 Live at Montreux Festival” – it won a Juno Award. Through his connections with Mr. Banks, Earl was summoned to Toronto to be part of the band playing for Peter Gzowski’s late-night CBC show, “90 Minutes Live.”
For a short time, he held the baritone chair in the Boss Brass, recording “The Hi-Lo’s -Back Again” album with Rob McConnell and Boss Brass in 1978. At that time, Earl was in great demand as a session player and played on many recordings during the late ’70’s.
Earl was soon hired by David Clayton Thomas into the revamped Bood, Sweat and Tears band. Earl’s sense of humor and spirit were legendary on the BST tours. Vern Dorge, a fledgling BST player at the time, remembers Earl being like a big brother to him. After Earl returned from his travels with BST, he became a member of the house band at Toronto’s Club Bluenote. Later on he became the sax player for The Lincolns – an R & B band. He had an uncanny sense of drama and dynamics, and audiences could be driven to a frenzy by his unbridled musical stream-of-consciousness.
In 1989, Earl put together “The Men From Uncle.” It was an 11 piece band ( including a six-piece horn section) that played in the Toronto area for nearly eight years. Not soon after that, Earl was diagnosed with a rare hereditary disease known as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (a rare lung condition).
During Earl’s final years, he toured extensively with pop icon Neil Sedaka. As Earl’s lung condition worsened, every effort was made to keep him playing. Steven Gordon-Carroll of the Sedaka organization always made sure that oxygen was available just off-stage. In spite of Earl’s declining health, Carroll states that “he played like a mockingbird,” every night until the lung infection hit in 1997, and he quit playing – temporarily.
Earl returned to Vancouver to be with family and hoped for a lung transplant. In 1998, hundreds of musicians and friends staged a benefit, and with the proceeds, presented Earl with a computer so he would be able to communicate with his friends everywhere via the internet. His final days were not easy, knowing a lung transplant was ruled an impossibility by his doctors, but kept a positive spirit till the end.
Earl passed away on September 28, 1999 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada of respiratory arrest at age 48.