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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Fred Dixon

// by Larry Delaney //

(#75 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)

FRED DIXON was born August 8, 1943 in Perth, Ontario, He was a long-time favourite on the Ottawa Valley country music scene.

Fred (sometimes billed as Freddy) Dixon was a gifted songwriter with many of his songs relating to Canadiana and specifically Ottawa Valley folklore. His song “Last Fatal Duel” was recorded by Stompin’ Tom Connors and was featured on the Connors album and movie soundtrack of “Across This Land”. The film featured performances at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto by Stompin’ Tom Connors, with special guests Sharon Lowness, Chris Scott, Kent Brockwell, Bobby Lalonde and Joey Tardif.

Fred Dixon worked the Ottawa Valley country music club and festival circuit for four decades, and was frequently called up to participate in special fund-raising events.

In the early 1970s, Fred Dixon released two albums on the Rodeo/Banff label, both entitled “Fred Dixon & The Friday Afternoon”. The first album featured his version of “The Last Fatal Duel” as well as the nationally charted single “All Over Again”. An earlier single release, “Jim’s Used Car Lot”, was a Top 20 RPM single.

The second album featured two more singles that hit the charts – “Brothers & Sisters” and “Just Another Step”. This album was also highlighted by the Fred Dixon compositions “Vancouver Rain”, “Restless Outlaw” and “Roving Man”.

The Friday Afternoon band at the time was comprised of Tom Valiquette, Bill Christie, the late Sam Henry and Fred Dixon.

Through the years Fred and his band have opened shows for Ronnie Hawkins, Dave Dudley, Lynn Anderson, Bobby Bare and other Nashville touring acts; and he has made guest appearances on several television shows, including Family Brown Country. Fred also hosted his own “Hot Country” radio show on CJET in Smiths Falls.

In addition to his lively performances on stage, Freddy Dixon was a prolific songwriter, penning pure country songs, and nostalgic songs about people, places, and things from the Ottawa Valley and beyond. While the Stompin’ Tom Connors movie soundtrack “Across This Land” and his “Last Fatal Duel” song recorded by Stompin’ Tom attracted the most attention, Fred Dixon also wrote and recorded songs of special significance and interest including, “Ian and Ben”, a story song paying tribute to Olympic Medalist Ian Millar and his famed horse Ben, (from Dixon’s hometown of Perth). He wrote “The Hawk”, a tribute to the late Ronnie Hawkins; “The Kick & Push” about the K&P Railroad Line in Ontario; a song about the infamous “Black Donnellys” of Lucan, Ontario; a song about “The Westray Mine Disaster”; and one about “The Boyd Gang” (Ontario’s version of the Bonnie & Clyde bank robbers).

Being a career-long devotee of Johnny Cash resulted in Fred Dixon’s composition “The Ballad of Johnny Cash”, and a friendship with Buffalo Springfield alumni Dewey Midkiff (aka Dewey Martin) led to Fred’s composition “He Went to L.A.”  Fred Dixon remembered the late Sam Henry, long-time drummer in his band, with his song “Boy from Belfast”. There were many other similar “story” songs penned by Fred Dixon.

Fred Dixon was featured as the “Four of Clubs” in a souvenir deck of playing cards promoting Canadian Country Music stars.

Freddy Dixon was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. He passed away June 5, 2020 in Smiths Falls, Ontario.


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