Coady Dempsey, one of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador’s most gifted and cherished musicians, passed away on Saturday, September 15, 2023. Coady, who was popularly known as “Birdman,” was not only a superb bassist but also a treasured friend and fervent supporter of the neighbourhood music scene. His sudden death left a vacuum that will be felt for many years.
Merrill Bullen, a close friend and former bandmate of Coady’s, announced the heartbreaking news on Facebook. He wrote, “Today is a very sad day; today we lost one of my old bandmates and the best bass player I knew. My condolences and deepest sympathy to the families and friends. Rest easy Coady Dempsey (aka Birdman) and let that bass ring out, old friend! Gone way too soon!” These heartfelt words capture the essence of Coady’s impact on both his peers and the local music scene.
Long before he was known as Birdman, Coady Dempsey began his musical career. He was born and reared in St. John’s, and when a student at O’Donel High School, his love for music really took off. He fell in love with the bass guitar during these formative years and committed himself to learning the instrument.
Coady continued his study at the College of the North Atlantic’s Gander Campus after graduating from high school, where he majored in Control and Instrumentation. His precise and technical approach to playing the bass guitar, which distinguished him as a truly remarkable performer, was clearly influenced by his scholastic background.
Coady joined the local band Alert Status Red, which was when his musical career really took off. Alert Status Red rapidly became well-known in the St. John’s music scene for their upbeat live performances and distinctive combination of rock and punk influences. Coady’s bass playing skills gave the band’s sound more depth and groove and eventually came to define it.
Throughout his time with Alert Status Red, Coady Dempsey earned a reputation as one of the finest bassists in the region. His ability to “slap the bass better than most” was not just a local legend; it was a testament to his dedication to his craft. Beyond his technical prowess, Coady’s infectious enthusiasm for music was contagious. He always found time to engage in discussions about bands, albums, concerts, and the local music scene with fellow musicians and fans.
The news of Coady’s passing was met with an outpouring of grief and tributes from the local music community. 97.5 KROCK, a prominent radio station in Newfoundland and Labrador, released a statement honoring him, saying, “If you knew him, you knew his passion for music. He slapped the bass better than most and always, always made time to chat bands, albums, concerts, and the local scene. He will be missed. One of the best. – JLaC. RIP Coady Dempsey.”
Beyond his appearances with Alert Status Red, Coady made additional contributions to the local music scene. He was a genuine supporter of the local talent, frequently attending and encouraging performances by up-and-coming performers. Many musicians were motivated by his encouragement and support to pursue their aspirations. He acted in a way that demonstrated his confidence in the ability of music to unite people.
Coady Dempsey had a life outside of his vocation as a musician. He was a former Flight Dispatcher with PAL Airlines, demonstrating his adaptability and capacity to juggle several interests. His passion to both his career and his music was evidence of his excellent work ethic and dedication to all he did.
Coady was well-known for his amiable disposition outside of his work and musical endeavours. He had the ability to make everyone feel welcome and important. Even the worst days may be made better by his contagious laughter and sense of humour. It is not surprising that he developed lifelong friendships that were meaningful and enduring.
Coady loved music and it was a big part of who he was, not just something he did on stage. He was completely devoted to music and was always looking for new ways to share his love of it with others. His excitement was contagious, whether he was talking about the subtleties of a bassline, going to a nearby performance, or jamming with other musicians.
Coady Dempsey’s legacy will continue to resonate in the hearts of those who knew him and the broader music community. His dedication to his craft, his unwavering support for local musicians, and his vibrant spirit will serve as an enduring source of inspiration. As we remember Birdman, let us celebrate the music he created, the friendships he forged, and the love he shared with all who had the privilege of knowing him.
In his memory, let us continue to support and nurture the local music scene that he cherished so dearly. Coady Dempsey may no longer be with us in person, but his bass will continue to ring out in our hearts and in the music of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Rest in peace, Birdman, and thank you for the music.