If this year's 30th anniversary didn't have a sombre lining to it with the constant Michael Jackson tributes, it certainly does now. Len Dobbin, journalist emeritus of the Montreal (and international) jazz scene for over 50 years, is gone.
Word is spreading via Facebook - the most details that have surfaced are here (French only). Len had been sick for many years, to varying degrees of severity - he had to be rushed out of the CKUT studios a couple of years ago. Since that incident he'd been weakened, but he looked to be in better form this year than last.
I can't express just how deep this loss is - Len, as an historian, wasn't just someone who memorized facts and trivia. He was there, for many things, and was incredibly passionate about the things he wasn't able to personally attend. When I first moved to Montreal, Dobbin's Den was the first jazz show I heard, and he served as a template for my own entry into CKUT. I've had the distinct honour of filling in for Len over the years -- the first time was quite possibly the most nervewracking two hours of radio I've ever done.
Len was truly a fantastic resource for us Montrealers, and a beautiful man. I was just hanging out with him in the press room, very aware of how lucky I was to be around him and other great journalists. It will be a very strange atmosphere in the press room today. He will be greatly missed.
EDIT: Via Christine Jensen, some of Len's beautiful photography.