Ontario Pioneers

November 9, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: MIKE “Pepe” FRANCIS

// by Larry Delaney // (#68 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) MIKE FRANCIS is a multi-talented music man who has literally “done it all” in the music world. A guitarist extraordinaire, a record producer, composer, arranger, and commercial jingles writer… are but a few of his massive career credits. Music has always been a part of Mike Francis’ life. He is the son of legendary Canadian country music recording artist, the late Ray Francis (1931-2010), who headed-up the Chatham, Ontario-based group The Whippoorwills. As a teenager in his hometown of Chatham, Mike followed in his father’s musical footsteps, briefly playing with his father’s band before moving on to working with various local country and pop/rock bands – which led to full-time work in Toronto studios. […]
November 9, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: MIKE “Pepe” FRANCIS

// by Larry Delaney // (#68 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) MIKE FRANCIS is a multi-talented music man who has literally “done it all” in the music world. A guitarist extraordinaire, a record producer, composer, arranger, and commercial jingles writer… are but a few of his massive career credits. Music has always been a part of Mike Francis’ life. He is the son of legendary Canadian country music recording artist, the late Ray Francis (1931-2010), who headed-up the Chatham, Ontario-based group The Whippoorwills. As a teenager in his hometown of Chatham, Mike followed in his father’s musical footsteps, briefly playing with his father’s band before moving on to working with various local country and pop/rock bands – which led to full-time work in Toronto studios. […]
October 12, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Blake Emmons

// by Larry Delaney // (born: August 2, 1944 – Toronto) (#67 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) BLAKE EMMONS is likely best known for hosting the TV series “Funny Farm”, a short-lived (one season-1974) Canadian-produced answer to the long-running Nashville TV show “Hee Haw”. For diehard country music fans, Blake Emmons will also be remembered for a pair of albums – I Wish You Love, released in 1976, and First Flight, a 1983 album on Columbia Records. The debut album, released on Canadian label Condor Records, contained five songs written by Blake Emmons, including his two biggest chart hits: “Let Me Do Something Lord”, which peaked at #9 on the RPM Charts, and the follow-up single “Sunchild”, a Top 30 hit. The album also contained […]
September 6, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ward Allen

// by Larry Delaney // (1922-1965) (Born: Kirkton, Ontario) (#66 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) There have been many Canadian-made songs that have become standards and earned mega-play worldwide… One, however, that often flies under the radar, is the fiddle instrumental, “Maple Sugar”, composed by the late Ward Allen. Most fiddle players in North America and beyond have either recorded or performed a live version of “Maple Sugar” – the tune is immediately identifiable by fans and enthusiasts of fiddle music. Ward Allen’s “Maple Sugar”, originally recorded and released on the Sparton Records of Canada label, was so popular and far-ranging that it also earned a release on the famed Texas-based D-Records label, operated by Pappy Daily. Warden Amber (Ward) Allen was born May 11, […]

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