Les Pavelick, a well-known Prince Albert entertainer for decades, has died at his winter home in Arizona.
Perhaps best known for his 1976 album Metro’s 11 Days from Christmas -- recorded in character as Metro -- Pavelick apparently suffered a heart attack.
The late comedian often worked with area performers Freddie and Sheila Pelletier, who performed the musical portion at many of his shows over the last four years.
“We’re having a hard day,” Sheila said. “It’s hit both Freddie and I kind of hard.”
“We’re just real sad to hear that he’s gone, and it’s still kind of a shock to us,” she added.
Sheila said Pavelick was a very giving person.
“He was really proud of the fact that he helped out a lot of charities in Saskatchewan,” she said. “That was really what he liked to do, was to go into the communities and give a great show, a good comedy show, and help out the communities, raise some funds for whatever they were raising funding for.
“He was very proud of the fact that he was able to do that. It shows that he’s got a good heart.”
Former mayor Jim Scarrow, a longtime friend of Pavelick’s, echoed Sheila’s sentiments.
“It’s sad,” he said of the comedian’s passing. “I’ve known Les a long time, and (he was) really a wonderful, caring individual with a great sense of humour.
“He created a character and I think it initially was somewhat controversial because it was concerned about the culture and language of Ukrainian people, and some took exception.
“But I think in all, it was with a good heart that he had that sense of humour and I think as time wore on … people enjoyed his humour, and it was in the last couple of years or three years that he’s kind of resurrected the character.”
On Metro’s (now defunct) website -- http://www.metroscomedy.com/ -- he wrote that the character was born in the late ’60s with performances at conventions, sportsmen’s dinners and trade shows.
He began recording local commercials in the early ’70s. By the mid-’70s, he had recorded 26 episodes of The Cottonpickers, a 30-minute TV show that aired across Western Canada.
After his song 11 Days from Christmas was a radio sensation in Prince Albert in 1975, Pavelick recorded an album of Christmas songs the next year. It eventually went gold in Canada, selling more than 50,000 copies.
Scarrow, then working at local radio station CKBI, was present for the initial recording of songs from the album that took place in his studio. In subsequent years, he kept in touch with Pavelick.
“When I ran for national president of Kinsmen in Winnipeg, he was there and was performing his character of Metro, much to the delight of the 2,000 Kinsmen and Kinettes who were in attendance at that convention,” Scarrow said.
“Through the years we’ve maintained our friendship, although at some distance just geographically. But he was always touching base when he came into Prince Albert and he was always kind of in touch. We had a good friendship.”
Metro travelled across Western Canada for performances and also did a six-week tour to entertain Canadian soldiers.
In 1978, Pavelick recorded a country album, Metro Goes Country, which sold more than 40,000 copies.
He also released Metro Live, Metro’s Next To Last Xmas Album, Metro’s Rural and Wasturn Album and in 2009 filmed a 75-minute video, Metro Unplugged.
In 2011, Pavelick wrote a book, Standing Ovulation, chronicling his four-decade long career in entertainment.
Although the comedian’s passing has saddened those who knew him, the laughter Pavelick fostered in life endures even after his death.
“It’s going to be a few hard days, but we know he’s telling jokes up there,” Sheila Pelletier said.
She added, “He was such a funny guy that Freddie and I have been talking about him today and reminiscing (about) all the funny things he said.
“So you know what, he’s … still bringing joy and happiness to people through their memories.”
-Matt Gardner, published on January 23, 2013