Brian Ferriman, Michelle Wright’s longtime manager and member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, passed away earlier this week, on Tuesday evening, at the age of 68. For the past few years, he had been a victime of Lewy Body Dementia.
Born May 7, 1950, he attended high school in London, Ont. and then attended the University of Western Ontario, earning an honours bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in Drama. Brian graduated with a BA in English. He played in a rock band during his university years. The year he graduated, he married Susan Kramer from Oakville. They remained married until her passing four years ago from ALS.
Brian abandoned thoughts of attending law school and joined two friends to open Springfield Sound Studio in a renovated schoolhouse near Aylmer, Ont. in 1973. Through the years, more music ventures followed, including a move to Mississauga. Summit Records, which he started in the late 1970’s, eventually evolved into Savannah Records. He successfully worked most aspects of the music industry from musician to record producer, to record label owner, to artist manager and executive. In addition to a 28-year business relationship with Michelle (and a 33-year friendship), Brian’s roster of artists he managed at various stages of their careers included the late Terry Sumsion, the late Terry Carrisse, Tim Taylor & Anita Perras, The Good Brothers and Matt Minglewood. With Michelle’s international success, Brian and his company made the move to Nashville in 1991.
Ferriman was honoured with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) award for Manager of the Year eight times and Record Industry Person of the Year four times. He served on various boards, including the CCMA and as an International Director of the Country Music Association. Brian was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame ten years ago.
I met Brian many times with many of the artists he represented. One of the fondest memories I have of the tall man was when, with Michelle, he accompanied her for a performance in Kitchener, Ont. He saw me from her tour bus and invited onboard to listen to a new album she had just recorded in Nashville. Brian sat in the driver’s seat and played a cassette tape of the album for me over the sound system, asking for and assessing my reaction to each of the cuts. As we were listening to the album, the shower door on the bus opened and out stepped Michelle wearing only a towel. “Hi, Randy,” she nonchalantly said, turned and went into her room at the back of the bus. Brian and I continued listening to that special pre-release cassette and when were done, he ejected it and gave it to me. Michelle kindly autographed it for me. That album, “The Reasons Why,” would become her fourth album release in 1994.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Brian Ferriman next month. He had a profound impact on all those he encountered and worked with, and on the industry that is difficult to accurately measure. He did indeed elevate it and us. Michelle announced Brian’s passing on social media and I noticed she didn’t call him her former manager. She simply, honestly and accurately called Brian “my friend.” Her final sentence on her social media post simply and eloquently sums up their long and deep relationship, “I love you and I will miss you Brian.”