Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Larry Coad

In The Country with Dave Woods: One On One With Victoria Banks
June 30, 2020
Artist of the Month: Sarah Wickett
June 30, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Larry Coad

(born: December 20, 1946 – Espanola, ON)
(died: November 21, 2012 – Burlington, ON)

(by Larry Delaney)

Larry Coad

Larry Garnet Coad was born December 20, 1946, in Espanola, Ontario. His love for the Ontario Northlands region and his Metis heritage was frequently found in his songs, such as, Espanola (recorded by Terry Roberts); Manitoulin (recorded by Marjorie Freeborn); and Sudbury (recorded by Colin Butler); the latter winning Song of the Year in the 2005 Sudbury’s Homecoming event.

During the 1980s, Larry Coad was one of the hottest songwriters on the Canadian country music scene, scoring many national chart hits for top artists, most notably, Harold MacIntyre and the group South Mountain.

The Larry Coad and Harold MacIntyre (and the Area Code 705 band) combination was particularly successful with all but one of MacIntyre’s nine nationally-charted singles being written by Larry Coad, including the 1983 Top 10 hit, Pressures of Progress and the Top 20 hits The Newfie Sheik, Honky Tonk Fever, That Don’t Mean I Love You Less, and Till The Day I’m Gone.

Larry Coad with South Mountain

Earlier, Colin Butler enjoyed a radio hit with the Larry Coad song, San Francisco Summer, which peaked at #38 on the RPM Charts in 1977.

One of Larry Coad’s most popular compositions was the pure country hurtin’ tune, Before She Made Me Crawl, popularized best by Harold MacIntyre, and also recorded by Redd Volkaert, who gained international fame as a lead guitarist for Merle Haggard’s band, The Strangers. The song has since become a Canadian “standard”, recorded also by Clarence Deveaux, Allen Cruise and Victor John.

Larry was also a devotee of the music and mystique of country legend George Jones, paying special tribute to Jones by penning the songs George and Possum, both of which were recorded by Harold MacIntyre. Coad also wrote the novelty song Gretzky the Great, which was recorded by Canadian Hall of Famer, Ronnie Prophet.

While not prolific on the Nashville scene, Larry has had his songs recorded by Nashville artists, including Vernon Oxford, who cut the Coad song, That Don’t Mean I Love You Less, and Bob Wood, who recorded the Coad composition, Colorado Cowboy.

Larry Coad with Lucille Starr

Canadian country artists who have recorded a Larry Coad song (in addition to the aforementioned) include Lucille Starr, Terry Sumsion, Ronnie Prophet, Todd Nolan, The Ellis Family Band, Brent Williams, Corlee Buell, Wayne Sulliman, A. Frank Willis, Audra Clough, George Belmore, Flo Durelle, Marjorie Freeborn (aka Marji Lee Cody), Ron McMunn, and many others. Many of these recordings were released on Burco Records, a label founded and operated by Larry Coad.

In addition to his songwriting credits, Larry Coad was also instrumental in managing the careers of such acts as Harold MacIntyre, South Mountain, Colin Butler, Leslie Grant, and others.

Larry also produced sessions in Nashville and Canadian studios for these artists, as well as for Canadian country recording artists Terry Roberts, Joey Knight, Larry Mattson, Michael Carr, J. Brian Oakes, Todd Nolan, Al Perry, Danny Thompson, Neil Matthews, Roy & Nancy Borden, Wayne Evans, Victor John, Bev Marie, and Canadian Country Music Hall Of Famer, Lucille Starr.

Larry Coad’s production and career guidance of top acts like Harold MacIntyre and South Mountain paid special dividends when Harold MacIntyre was named CCMA’s Outstanding New Artist in 1981 (he has since been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame); and South Mountain earned the CCMA’s Vista Rising Star award in 1991.

Larry was also the Musical Director for the TV series, Canadian Country Express, which aired on the Mid-Canada Network during the early 1990s. The show won several Silver and Gold Can-Pro Awards for television production.

Sadly, Larry Garnet Coad passed away of cancer on November 21, 2012, in Burlington, Ontario. Larry Coad’s creative talents as a songwriter, producer, manager, etc., have generally been overlooked; another Canuck who deserves proper industry recognition.