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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Bobby Lalonde

// by Larry Delaney //

(#78 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)

Bobby Lalonde has been a lifelong resident of the Ottawa Valley, born May 22, 1958, in the small farming community of Fournier, Ontario. Until recently, in nearby Hawkesbury, he owned and managed his own music store, now a Long & McQuade regional outlet.

Bobby first hit the stage as a nine-year-old, playing fiddle in a band with his three brothers (Gerry, Gilles and Marc), billed as The Four Sons. As a young teen, he won the Junior Fiddle Championship at the famed Shelburne Fiddling Competition and went on to the National Fiddling Championship in 1975.

Bobby was inspired by many of Canada’s legendary fiddle players – the likes of Don Messer, Johnny Mooring, Ned Landry and Ward Allen – and he began his own recording career as a teenager, with a self-titled fiddle album released in 1973 on the London Records label. Soon afterwards, he was invited to appear as a special guest on the Stompin’ Tom Connors movie and soundtrack album, “Across This Land”.

Years later, in 1981, Bobby Lalonde was invited by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to perform for world leaders at the Economic Summit Conference hosted by Canada in Montebello, Quebec.

By the early 1980s, Bobby Lalonde was pursuing a career as a Country recording artist, releasing several critically acclaimed albums on Book Shop Records and on his own Bolab Records label. He charted a series of hit singles; among them: “Forty Shades Of Blue”, “Play Old Man”, “Lover’s Will”, “She Got Away With Love” and “If Your Love Ran Out Tomorrow”.

In the 90s, Bobby Lalonde released several more albums, including “Fiddle Man” (which featured the hit single “Zydeco”) and the albums, “Shadow Knows” and “Noel Classics” (a Christmas collection).

Among his many recording triumphs was a pair of fiddle tunes (“Rosin Up” and “Just Kiddin”), performed with famed Nashville fiddle legend Vassar Clements.

In addition to his own recordings, Bobby Lalonde has added his fiddle talent on many albums recorded by other Canadian artists, and he has produced recordings for many acts. He has also earned accolades for his songwriting, composing many of his own hit songs, as well as writing songs recorded by Ronnie Prophet, Gilles Godard, Bruce Golden and others. Bobby also released the duet single, “I Can’t Get Close Enough”, recorded with Canadian star Kelita (Haverland).

Throughout his lengthy career, Bobby has headed up his own Bobby Lalonde Band, catering to many musical styles and tastes, and effectively catering to both English and French audiences. The original nucleus of the band included musicians Norm Couture, Alain Brisson and Roger Belisle. In later years, the band underwent several personnel changes.

The Bobby Lalonde Band were perennial nominees in various categories of the CCMA Awards and were named All-Star Back Up Band Of The Year in 1986 and 1987. Bobby was himself named CCMA’s Instrumentalist Of The Year in 1984, 1986-87, and again in 1990.

The Bobby Lalonde Band has worked shows backing such headliners as George Jones, Kenny Rogers, The Earl Scruggs Review, Ronnie Prophet, Gordie Tapp, Wayne Rostad and The Rovers.

Bobby Lalonde’s musical productions include co-hosting the “Spirit Of The Country” TV series, featuring an impressive lineup of Nashville and Canadian talent. Bobby has appeared solo on several national TV shows, including Family Brown Country, Ronnie Prophet’s Rocky Mountain Inn show and CBC’s Miracle Network Telethons; as well, guesting on the Country Music News Fan Awards Show (1983), several appearances on the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall Of Fame Awards shows, and numerous editions of the Wayne Rostad Gatineau Clog event.

Bobby Lalonde was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003.


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