Ontario Pioneers

August 15, 2018

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Jerry Warren

Born: James R. Jordan – Stayner, Ontario Died: January 28, 1991 – Niagara Falls, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Jerry Warren was one of Cancountry’s top vocal talents of the 1970’s, with many calling his vocal work equal to that of Nashville’s top country stars of the day. Jerry Warren proved the point by scoring a series of Top 40 hits on the RPM Country Charts during the first half of the 70’s, including a #1 hit in 1975 with his truckin’ song, “Big Red Jimmy.” Jerry Warren was born James R. Jordan in small-town Stayner, Ontario. His love for music was nurtured in the family home and by the early 1960’s, he formed his first band, Tremble, working out of Hamilton, Ontario, and playing the […]
May 9, 2018

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Donna Ramsay

(aka Donna Anderson) Born: (1951) Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Donna Ramsay was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; the daughter of Canadian Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Don Ramsay. Thanks to her father, she began singing as a young child and meeting many of the top stars of country music while on their Canadian tours. As a teenager, she was already making guest appearances on various TV shows including: The Gary Buck Show taped at studios in Kitchener, Ontario. Canadian recording star / producer Gary Buck recognized the potential in the young singer and brought her into the recording studio to record her debut album Cool Green Waters, released on Capitol Records in 1969. The album yielded three charted singles, including the […]
April 9, 2018

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Al Brisco

(by Larry Delaney) Al Brisco’s tasty steel guitar work has been featured on countless albums recorded by many of Canada’s top country recording acts. You can hear his stylish “steelin’” on albums by such notables as Ian Tyson, Tommy Hunter, George Hamilton IV, The Good Brothers, The Cooper Brothers, Gary Buck, Smiley Bates, Gordie Tapp, Sylvia Tyson, Wayne Rostad, Joe Firth, Artie MacLaren, Johnny Burke… and the list goes on and on; with not the least being his steel guitar contribution to the Dick Damron classic, “Countryfied.” Perhaps one of Al Brisco’s more illustrious appearances on a recording goes back to 1972, when he was called upon to add his steel work on the Pure Prairie League album “Bustin’ Out”, recorded at RCA Studios in […]
March 6, 2018

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Irwin Prescott

Born: January 17, 1932 – Widdifield (North Bay), Ontario Died: August 8, 1977 – Ottawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Irwin Prescott was calling square dances at age 9 and in his late teens, was heading up his own band, The Mell-O-Tones, and hosting his own radio show over CFCN radio in his hometown of North Bay, Ontario. As a recording artist, Irwin Prescott released six albums on the Rodeo/Banff, London and Cheyenne labels, and released singles in the USA on Ambassador Records, while his Canadian releases were largely on the Melbourne Records label. Three of his singles earned national chart action, including his lively version of the Leroy Van Dyke classic “The Auctioneer”, which was a #1 hit in Canada for Prescott in 1966. His […]
January 25, 2018

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Mary Bailey

Born: Evelyn (Mary) Bailey – December 24, 1946 – Toronto, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Mary Bailey earned early experience as a child performer working the Ontario music scene, including guest appearances on the Earl Heywood Show (Wingham) and The Ken Soble Amateur Hour Show (Hamilton). By her early teens, she put the entertainment world on hold, and later, began working as a jewellery fashion designer and Ontario regional manager for the Sarah Coventry Jewellery company. During this time, Mary developed keen skills as a songwriter and by the mid-1970’s, was signed to a recording contract with RCA Victor (Canada), releasing several singles, which earned national airplay and chart positions from 1976-79. These early career hits resulted in a 1977 nomination for Best New Female Artist […]
December 21, 2017

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Jack Kingston

Born: October 4, 1925 – St. Catharines, Ontario Died: May 18, 1996 – St. Catharines, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) As a youngster, Jack Kingston sang in church choirs in his hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario and by his late teens, was performing on CKTB radio (St. Catharines) and formed the country band The Kingston Brothers with his brother Alex Kingston and friend Alex Dalgleish. After the break-up of the group in the late 1940’s, Jack Kingston joined the Wingham, Ontario-based CKNX “Traveling Barn Dance”, where he was nicknamed “The Yodeling Cowboy”. By the early 1950’s, Jack Kingston became the first Canadian country artist to be signed to Capitol Records (Canada), releasing two singles. Soon afterwards, Jack Kingston became a member of the famed Main Street […]
November 17, 2017

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Donna Moon

Born: June 5, 1951 – Madoc, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Donna Moon was born in the Central Ontario town of Madoc, and launched her singing career as a young teenager with performances at the Lakehead Barndance staged in nearby Peterborough. Donna became affectionately dubbed “The Moon Of Madoc”, and after moving to Toronto in the early 1970’s to pursue her career at the professional level, she soon attracted the attention of Jack Hosier who signed Donna to his Marathon Records label. In 1973, Donna Moon released her debut album with the title track single, “Bittersweet”, quickly attracting radio airplay and the single reaching #2 on the RPM Hit Charts. A follow-up single, “Baby And Me”, also charted, peaking at #29. Donna’s second album on Marathon, a self-titled collection, […]
October 20, 2017

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Orval Prophet

Born: August 31, 1922 – Edwards, Ontario Died: January 4, 1984 – Ottawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Orval Prophet was affectionately dubbed “The Canadian Plowboy”, reflecting his Ottawa Valley farm-life upbringing and his musical roots. Orval originally performed as part of the Ottawa Valley groups Fiddler’s Fling and Mac Beattie & His Melodiers. Following his early success with his Decca recordings, Orval “Rex” Prophet toured across Canada with both Wilf Carter and Johnny Cash. During his heyday, Orval Prophet’s live performances were typically filled with a touch of showmanship rarely seen with country music performers of the day… Orval would work a room using a 50-foot microphone cord, throwing one arm in the air, and shaking hands with patrons as he walked among his audience, […]
September 19, 2017

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Bob King

Born: January 6, 1934 – Joyceville, Ontario Died: January 20, 1989 – Ottawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Bob King was one of Canada’s first country stars to earn recognition beyond our national borders. Raised in the Ottawa Valley, Bob King headed up his first band, The Country Cousins, at age 14, playing area talent contests. At age 16, he became a solo artist, beating out another Ottawa youngster, Paul Anka, in a talent show. Soon afterwards, Bob King joined on as a member of the popular traditional country group, Mac Beattie & The Ottawa Valley Melodiers. In 1954, at age 20, Bob King was signed to a solo recording contract with RCA Victor. His debut single, “Laurel Lee”, became an instant hit, selling a reported 50,000 […]

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