Stan Klees, the visionary co-founder of the JUNO Awards, passed away on September 22, 2023, leaving behind an enduring legacy in the Canadian music industry. Leading the charge in championing the Canadian-identity, his unwavering commitment to celebrating Canadian talent with long-time partner Walt Grealis resulted in the creation of the JUNO Awards in 1971 – formally the RPM Gold Leaf Awards, which has since become a global showcase for Canadian musicians of all backgrounds. His infectious enthusiasm, warm spirit, and genuine love for Canadian music leave an indelible mark and made him a pillar in the industry.
Klees started his career as a music producer in the early 60’s. He planted the seed for the origins of the country’s star system, and also launched recording companies Tamarac and Red Leaf Records to amplify Canadian talent during the industry’s infancy. In 1995, Klees was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2001, he was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards.
Stan’s impact on the music community extended far beyond the stage and the studio. He was a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him. “CARAS and MusiCounts as we know it today would not exist if not for Stan Klees,” says Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards. “Our deepest condolences to his family and friends and we extend heartfelt gratitude for his vision that we will continue to honour.” Since its formation, the JUNO Award statuette bears the name of our co-founder to this day.