Music History

Can you solve this Canadian musical mystery? [UPDATED!]

Late last week, an email arrived from Quinn:

?I am wondering if you have any info on a man named Jerry ‘Ish’ Penfound. He is my grandfather. He was a session musician in Toronto and Ontario throughout the 60’s-80’s. He is best known for being a member of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. He continued with them until they became the Levon Helm Sextet and then left the band (no pun intended) causing the name to change.

“I have heard many stories from my family over the years about him without too much info to back it up. I know he had a strong relationship with the Long family of Long & McQuade. There have been a few stories written of him, (the most notable being gambling away the band’s money in Levon’s book This Wheel’s on Fire) yet not much seems to be available. Much of what I know is heard very much through the grapevine from family or the few chance meetings that have happened with people who knew him (mostly at various L&M’s).

Unfortunately, he passed away due to cancer before my time and I have been fascinated with this family figure and have tried to learn as much as I can. Over the years I have reached out to Robbie Robertson and been ignored each time. Garth had agreed to meet me some years back but his wife Maud had canceled the event. With my grandmother’s health declining and her memory fading with her age I am hoping to find out what I can before the proverbial clock strikes midnight.

“I’ve heard he played on the rooftop of the Elmocombo with a young Stevie Ray Vaughn. That he toured playing horns with The Rolling Stones. I’ve only ever been able to dig up two recordings of him playing; one for Ronnie Hawkins and the other for Howlin’ Wolf.

“In the end if you know of him, or know anyone who would any info at all would be much appreciated.”

Challenge accepted. Can anyone help out Quinn and his grandmother?

UPDATE: Dan and Loril write: “Regarding Jerry Penfound, although I don’t have firsthand information on him, I met a guy through the musician’s association, in Brantford, Ontario, named Glen Silverthorn, who was Rick Danko’s drummer before Rick went off with The Hawks. That could be an avenue to pursue.”

UPDATE: People continue to come to Quinn’s rescue. Dave of The Dave Murphy Ban has provided some important contact information, including Rick Danko’s brother. I’ve forwarded that information to Quinn.

There’s also information to be gleaned from Ronnie Hawkins’s official discography.

Alan Cross

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13 thoughts on “Can you solve this Canadian musical mystery? [UPDATED!]

  • He has a number of credits on Discogs as Jerry Penfound. He was also a .member of Toronto’s Cameo Blues Band. That’s all I got

  • In the late eighties and early nineties I used to play in Ronnie Hawkins Band. I’m pretty sure Jerry Penfound is a name I heard a lot, but I was a generation younger than everyone who knew him personally. That being said I’m guessing a really amazing source of information for you would be Terry Danko who was the bass player in the Hawks throughout my tenure. Terry is Rick Danko’s brother. He is alive and well and living in Simcoe Ontario. You can easily find him quickly by searching on Facebook. I think the odds are very good Terry would know a LOT of musicians who were personally familiar with Jerry Penfound. Terry was personally very well connected with anyone related to The Band, and I’m guessing and hoping you would have a much easier time directly talking to Terry Danko than you would with Robbie Robertson or Garth Hudson. Having spent some time with Garth I actually think Terry would be a much better source of information, in my opinion. I hope this helps!!

  • I would try looking up John Till (Full Tilt Boogie Band) out of Stratford, Ontario or Kenneth Pearson from Woodstock Ontario. Both played with Janis Joplin on Pearl and were close with the Band as well as Garth and Maude.

  • Had a quartet called Quorum which he formed in Toronto in 1968…Jerry on piano, organ, flute, clarinet, tenor sax, and vocals, Wayne Davis or Paul Fullerton on bass, George Willis on guitar and Frank Pollard or Wayne Orgille on drums (from various newspaper articles from the 70’s).

    • Yes Jerry played out of the Ports of Call in the Last Chance Saloon. George Willis was Cousin of my moms . Wayne Orgille I believe is still alive and living in Wasaga Beach. You could probably message him through Facebook as well as George’s wife Di Willis who lives in Toronto still. The Quorum played at my brothers wedding in Creemore in 1970

  • You may have already found this, but he is in the discogs database:

    The database has a collection of credits for him. One interesting find is that he was also a member of The Capers – as well as playing on their 1965 album “Introducing the Verisitle Capers” he is credited with arrangements and sings lead on a cover of “Route 66”. That would be a nice souvenir to have (i see a couple copies for sale).

    There is a little bio on the The Band page here, with some nice photos:
    and if you learn anything of interest, it’s worth passing it on to Jan, who maintains the page, he would probably be happy to update that bio: jan.hoiberg @

    Best of luck with your search!

  • Garth Hudson formed the Capers with Paul London in 1958, had success and changed the name to The Kapers in 1960. After leaving Levon and the Hawks in 1965, jerry Penn joined The Capers and was lead vocal on “Route 66”. He’s my uncle once removed and Im also interested on any further info. Cheers

  • My wife is Jerry’s daughter in London, Ontario. He had her and two sons here

  • Please send Quinn my email address if possible.

  • Jerry Penfound was my second cousin….The son of my fathers (Ron Hanson from London) sister who lived in London. There was my father and 3 or 4 sisters. There father, was my grandfather Peter Hanson of London. Ever though Jerry was never credited for this, he wrote the song the Eagles made famous “Take it to the Limit one more time…) Jerry was associated with the Dooby Brothers at one time and that was were the song originated. It know i heard to reel to reel at my house in Ca. about 1970.
    I’ll will be glad to talk with my fathers sisters family
    Best Regards, Bob Hanson – Living in Ca.

  • Please contact me. I left a reply to the late Jerry Penfound. inquiry. I am Jerry’s 2nd cousin, living in Ca.
    Jerry’s mother was my fathers sister.

  • I worked with Jerry at the CBC from the late 80’s on. He was an audio operator on such shows as The Journal, Midday, local news, The National, and Hockey Night in Canada.

  • He had a son he didn’t know about living in Vancouver.


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