Judith Fitzgerald's building a mystery.
Fitzgerald's poems are nationally recognised, her articles in the daily press (The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail) have ruffled feathers and put noses out of joint. In short, causing controversy is her high.
Very rarely is the sanctum sanctorum of the recording industry invaded by outsiders (writers) on this side of the border. Threatened with legal action, freeze-outs by major-record companies, violence, and most recently viral-bomb threats, Fitz was like a pit bull, hanging on to complete her project. Although unauthorised, this is not a hatchet job on McLachlan. In fact, Fitz is non-ending in her praise of McLachlan's talent:
" . . . What I find so utterly captivating — McLachlan's story — is the story of a woman blessed with one of the finest sets of pipes on the planet determined to share her sonorous gift with her obviously adoring audience for, when all is said and sung, McLachlan's indelible voice — her finest instrument and premier asset — takes centrestage in this story, the story of McLachlan's non-stop to-the-top musical chops."
Fitz discovered that McLachlan had been adopted, and set out to find her blood mother, which she did (which makes for a very warm and intriguing interview. Not hurtful in any way). A fan, Uwe Vandrei, obsessed with McLachlan's talent, became almost a "mail stalker" as he bared his innermost feelings in several letters. McLachlan, of course, ignored him, which led to an action against McLachlan for allegedly using his words in the lyrics of "Possession," a giant hit for McLachlan. Unfortunately, before his day in court, Vandrei died of "an apparent suicide," as tabled by the Ontario Provincial Police and which FRANK magazine challenged.
Fitz interviewed Vandrei's sister and the plot thickens. Fitz also took a look into the early beginnings of McLachlan's manager, Terry McBride, interviewing one of his first benefactors, and the plot thickens even more.
With Fitz's street-smarts method of writing, and her extraordinary psychobiography properties, even if telepathy was used, she leaves her reader the mindspace to put two and two together, which makes for a mystery, like Building a Mystery. Lilith, Medusa, Pandora's Box, and more. Very rivetting stuff.
Here's a bit of Fitz's humour:
"She (McLachlan) does Vicki Gabareau? McLachlan tells Vicki she's gotta pee. She does a phoner with Arsenault? She tells him she's gotta pee. She participates in a cyber-chatski? She works a piss into one of her answers. She drinks a little peppermint tea before she performs. She drinks wee little siplets. Just tiny wee tasticals. Why? Otherwise, halfway through the show, the girl's gotta pee. Now, this may be an unauthorised bio and all, but I got two words to communicate to somebody: Kegel's Exercises . . .
"And she thinks sex is great now?"
A class writer with an abundance of panache, Fitz adds a touch of humanism and maybe even humility to the persona of a Canadian superstar. The book is true to its title: Fitz supplies all the parts, the reader simply puts the pieces of the puzzle together.
© 1998-2009 Walt Grealis, O.C. and RPM. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.
Upon publication of the celebratory Millennium edition of the revised and final unauthorised biography, Sarah McLachlan: Building a Mystery, premier Canconlogist and Juno Co-Founder Walt Grealis, O.C., graciously noted, in his unforgettable "Walt Says" RPM column (4 September 2000), "Judith Fitzgerald's Sarah Biography was mentioned here in RPM in glowing terms before; but, armed with the author's [pre-lawyered manuscript copy], it demanded another read, revealing even more of the mystique surrounding this Canadian superstar. Fitz possesses an uncanny knack for expression that captures every nuance of her characters and clicks immediately . . . A very positive read. If you're interested in a behind-the-scenes look at one segment of the recording industry, get your copy now."
Author's Note: Don't it always seem to go, you don't know who you miss till they've left the planet forever? Even now, years later, I ache for the loss of Walt Grealis, the guy who always took my calls and keenly understood my insane sanity in a way no one else ever has (or, for that matter, will). Tough? He taught me a thick trick or two. When he spoke his mind, which he always took care to do, he spoke straight from the lip. No bullshit, no sugar-cloaking niceties all wrapped up with nowhere to go but fathoms below. I miss Walt, his lack of pretentiousness (although I loved his sense of class and style and the way he always made sure to off-show me when we dined in establishments reserved for A-Listers), and his comforting presence. I love the guy, shall always love the guy, will never forget him, ever. And, lest you think I didn't and don't feel likewise about his best friend, the flamboyant and insanely sane Stan Klees, reconsider the score: On this planet, there's no music man I love more. Together, they guided me through the writing of this book, one they believed a necessity to protect other fans in an industry well-known for its down-and-dirtyisms. For that (among myriad other reasons), I shall always remain grateful and, come what may, hopeful. "Courage," Walt would say. Now, I wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes, the heart is too filled with jouissance to say just how thrilled it is. This is one of those times.
Photographs of Mr. Grealis's Niche in the Memorial Garden of Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Mr. Grealis, O.C., and Mr. Klees, O.J. © 1998-2009 Stan Klees, O.J. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Duplication, reproduction, storage, or transmission of these works in whole or in part in any medium without the express written permission of their copyright holder is strictly forbidden. (Very special thanks to MAPL Creator and Juno Co-Founder Stan Klees.)