Rocky View County resident and celebrated Canadian punk-rock icon Arthur Frank 'Art' Bergmann has been named to the Order of Canada – one of the country's most prestigious awards for civilians.
The Governor General of Canada recognized Bergmann for his “indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities.” Bergmann was one of eight Albertans and 61 Canadians who received the honour in late December 2020.
According to Bergmann, who lives on a property west of Airdrie, he initially thought the honour was some kind of practical joke.
“I thought people would call me a sellout, there was all kinds of conflicting feelings,” he said. “Now, I’ve accepted it.”
According to the Governor General’s website, gg.ca, the Order of Canada is a way for the federal government to honour people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation. Bergmann’s receiving of the honour comes shortly after another RVC resident – Bearspaw philanthropist and business owner Charles Roy ‘Nipper’ Guest – was named to the Order of Canada.
“The contributions of these trailblazers are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country,” the website read.
Bergmann has remained highly acclaimed for a musical career that has spanned more than four decades. He was a member of multiple bands in the 1970s and 1980s, including the K-Tels, which was renamed the Young Canadians. Since then, he has written songs and published albums as a solo artist – a career that led to a Juno Award for Best Alternative Album in 1996.
Bergmann said his journey into punk rock started in the late 1970s when he first heard the Sex Pistols, the English band that helped establish the genre.
“Something just exploded in my brain,” he said. “I deconstructed everything I knew and gave it all a new energy. I learned how to play in a whole new, experimental way.”
Bergmann said before punk rock, his music didn’t really say anything. It was the attitude and actions of the new, high-energy genre that gave him the mentality to reach the next level of his musical prowess.
“It was John Lydon’s voice [Sex Pistols former lead singer]. It was alien to me,” he said. “It gave me a point of view with questioning authority and questioning the society around you. I surged with it.”
Another aspect which was noted in his appointment to the Order of Canada was his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities – something he is still passionate about to this day. He said it is great to see so many young people waking up and realizing what is going on in the world.
“The kids will be the ones that wake us all up,” he said. “Things have to change, or we are going off of a cliff.”
To this day, Bergmann is still working on music. He has spent the last four years making his next album, which he said will come out in 2021.
“These songs are the best that I’ve ever written,” he said.
Recipients of the Order of Canada are usually awarded the honour in person at a ceremony held at the Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ont. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year, the ceremony will be scheduled for a later date.
To keep up to date with news and music from Bergmann, visit artbergmann.com.