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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Jerry Palmer

// by Larry Delaney //

(#76 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)

Country/Rock ‘n Roller JERRY PALMER was born Gerry Godick in Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). He began his music career as a teenage rock ‘n roller, sharing the stage with Canadian teen idols Bobby Curtola, Paul Anka and U.S. stars Bobby Vee, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

In 1961, he crossed paths with famed Canadian producer/manager Don Grashey (of Myrna Lorrie and Carroll Baker management fame). Grashey signed him to his Gaiety Records label and suggested an identity change from Godick to “Palmer”, the surname of a Grashey business partner at that time.

Early career recordings were produced in Hollywood studios and Jerry Palmer was touring the U.S., making appearances on American Bandstand and similar teen music TV shows. Initial attempts to create interest Stateside for the young singer were thwarted, however, when he received a U.S. Army draft notice… Jerry returned to Canada and watched his U.S.-signed record deal get shelved.

The Grashey/Palmer team then directed their efforts to the Canadian music marketplace, with Jerry releasing his debut album, “Jerry Palmer’s String Of Hits” in 1963 – a collection of his early recordings “Oh Lucky Me”, “Travellin’ Shoes”, “Walking The Dog” and a cover of the Buddy Holly & The Crickets hit, “That’ll Be The Day”. The material was later re-issued on the Birchmount Records albums, “Country Sound” and “On My Way”.

By the mid 1970s, Jerry made a move into Country music, releasing the singles “Ooh Mama”, “One Way Ticket To A Lady” (both original compositions) and “Mule Skinner Blues” – all of which earned chart-topping success. He recorded the albums “Lovin’ Country” (Gaiety Records) and a 1977 self-titled RCA album which featured a Jerry Palmer/Carroll Baker duet on a cover version of the earlier Myrna Lorrie/ Buddy Deval classic hit, “Are You Mine”.

Palmer scored additional chart hits with the releases, “Not Living, Not Dying” and “Last Will And Testament”. During the 1980s, he recorded a series of country singles, released on Don Grashey’s Golden Eagle Records label.

During that heyday period of his music career, Jerry Palmer was touring cross-Canada with his Lovin’ Country band, making guest appearances on the Tommy Hunter Show and Ronnie Prophet Country TV shows, and chalking up a steady stream of award nominations.

When it was time to come off the road, Palmer owned and operated his own country music establishment, “Jerry Palmer’s Country Den” – a popular venue in Thunder Bay.

Jerry has since made periodic returns to the recording scene. In 2003, he released the CD, “Good Ole’ Buddies”, on which he wrote all eight songs. Song titles included: “On The Run”, “Hold On”, “Silent Tears She Cries”, “Darlin’ Let’s Try And Make It One More Time”, to name a few. The album was co-produced by Palmer in Nashville studios.

Jerry Palmer, now in semi-retirement, makes his home in Calgary.


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