SOCAN member Dolores Claman, the woman who wrote the Hockey Night in Canada theme has passed away at the age of 94. She died in Spain, about two years after being diagnosed with dementia.
Her long-running Hockey Night theme has often been called Canada’s second national anthem, and was honoured with the Cultural Impact Award at the 2016 SOCAN Awards Gala in Toronto. It’s a piece of music that has invaded homes and hearts for more than 40 years.
The song was composed by Dolores Claman for what was then called the MacLaren advertising agency. Interestingly, the assignment to write a theme for hockey was given to a woman – almost unheard of in 1968. MacLaren had just had a hit with “A Place to Stand, A Place to Grow” [the unofficial anthem of Ontario, composed by Claman, with lyrics by Richard Morris and French lyrics by Larry Trudel, for a short film of the same name for Expo 67]. Claman had never really watched hockey before and used an image of gladiators to visualize the game.
The Hockey Night theme was written under a jingle contract, because there originally were little gaps in the intro for the announcer. A couple of years later, they changed it into a theme. In 2008, it became the most hotly discussed song in the land when CBC decided not to renew its licence for the beloved theme, and the rights to use the song were sold to CTV. It had never been licensed properly by the CBC, and they initially wouldn’t give Claman a credit either. She eventually negotiated the credit before licensing in 2008. CTV ended up purchasing the song, and it’s still attached to hockey, and was used in the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Born in Vancouver, Claman received a graduate scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She enjoyed a prolific career in composing for advertising, television, film and theatre. Her company, Quartet Productions, wrote and produced TV and radio jingles and background music for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Molson, Air Canada, Lever Brothers, Air France, Imperial Oil, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 7-UP, Canada Life, CN, and virtually hundreds more. She won many advertising awards in New York, Venice, Cannes, etc.
Claman is survived by her daughter Madeleine Morris and her son Michael Claman.