The Maine Academy of Country Music
Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, and Country Humor
within the State of Maine, who have gone before us.
Mellie Dunham 1853-1931
Born in Norway, Maine July,29,1853, he spent most of his 70 odd years there.
Mellie Dunham was a farmer and Snowshoe maker besides being a fiddler. He made Snow Shoes used by Commodore Robert Perry in his North Pole expedition.
He played his fiddle extensively around Eastern United States, and after winning the title “Champion Fiddler of Maine”, he visited with Henry Ford of Michigan and embarked upon a series of Vaudeville Tours in Boston, New York City, and other New England States.
In appearance, he was described as a sawed off Mark Twain, which was perfect for the part.
His fiddling brought attention to the New England Fiddling Tradition and he made four records for Victor in 1926.
Mellie Dunham may not have become as famous as Rudy Vallee, or made as much money, but there is little doubt that he was one of the finest ambassadors the State of Maine has ever produce. He was more than a talented musician and fine performer. He was the embodiment of the typical Maine Farmer, and as such, he was loved wherever he went.
Mellie Dunham was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25, 2004
Florence Rich 1897-1986
Florence Rich was born in 1897 and raised in Lakeview, Maine (near Milo).
Although she took music lessons as a child, she basically was a self taught musician. When she was ten years old, her family realized her potential, and boarded her in a home in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, so that she could take piano lessons twice a week. She use to help the other children with their lessons.
She married Archie Rich in 1922, and lived in Lincoln, Maine. It was then that she started to collect musical instruments. Her first paying job was with the Happy Valley Cowboys doing a New Year’s Eve Show, they were paid $5.00 for the entire band.
For many years Florence Rich traveled the back roads of Maine, playing to full houses at the little School Auditoriums, Grange Halls, and just about any place that you could book a show. She appeared on local Radio, WABI in Bangor, and the show had a strong following.
Florence Rich passed away in 1986 at the young age of 89.
Florence Rich was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2004.
Dick Curless 1932-1995
Richard W. Curless was born on March 17, 1932 in Fort Fairfield, Maine.
Dick’s wife, Pauline, along with his son Rick, and Daughter Terry, have all played a great part in his successful career in “Country Music”.
Dick recorded his first record in 1950 at the age of 18. it was a 78 RPM and titled “The Coast of Maine.” in his early career he was influenced by Yodeling Slim Clark, Hal Lone Pine, and Al Hawkes from Event Records.
In 1957, Dick won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show on CBS-TV, this was the breaking point in his Musical career. His great voice has been recorded by many Record Companies. Many of his songs hit the National Charts including: “Thombstone Every Mile”, “Room Full of Roses”, “She Called Me Baby”, and “January, April, and Me”, just to name a few.
In the mid 1960’s, he joined the Buck Owens All American Music Show. In the Bicentennial Year of 1976, Dick recorded a special tribute to America with an album entitled “Maine Train”. This was followed by “We Can’t Wait For Tomorrow”.
Richard W. Curless was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame on April 30, 1978.
Dick Curless died on May 25th, 1995
Richard W. Curless was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25, 2004.
Note: A complete biography of Dick Curless is printed in the Maine Academy of Country Music's book called "For the Record, a History of Maine Country Music". It is available through the Secretary or by going to our Store on this website.
Ken MacKenzie 1918-1993
& Simone MacKenzie 1920-1984
Kenneth W. MacKenzie was born November 18, 1918 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Simone LaBrie MacKenzie was born April 26, 1920 in Manchester New Hampshire.
They were married on New Year’s Eve in 1938. They had two sons, Kenny and Ricky.
As a teenager, Ken’s dad bought him a guitar, case, picks, and instruction book from Spiegel’s for $8.00. he learned to play the guitar as well as the harmonica.. He played and sang on Minstrel Shows and at Grange Meetings.
In 1936, Ken commenced broadcasting over Radio WFEA in Manchester, N.H. this program lasted for 2 years.
In 1938, Ken came to Maine to work the Buck Nation & The Cowboy Caravan. And in 1939, he began on WGAN, Portland Radio.
In 1942, he opened the Lone Star Ranch at Reeds Ferry, N. H.
Ken sincerely felt and stated that he would not have enjoyed the success he has as an entertainer “...without the tremendous Country Music Fans of Maine….”
Simone began just taking care of ticket sales during Ken’s Shows and joining singing the last song. And in 1941, she finally became a regular member of his shows.
She has performed with such Country Greats as Eddie Miller, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Dick Curless, Joe Gallien, Dickie Monroe, Charlie Gilliam and many others.
Simone passed away in 1984 and Ken passed way in 1993
Ken MacKenzie was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978
Simone MacKenzie was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.
Ken & Simone MacKenzie were inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25, 2004.
Hal Lone Pine 1916-1977
Harold J. Breau was born on June 5, 1916 at Pea Cove, Maine.
His professional career in Country Music started in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. his group was known as “The Lone Pine Mountaineer & The Noisiest Gang in Radio”.
Lone Pine, together with his wife Betty Cody and their ‘Gang”, entertained throughout New England and Canada, and later, moved on to be National Stars. Hal and Betty were blessed with four devoted sons: Lenny, Dick, Denny, and Bob Breau.
He was heard and seen on many Radio, TV, and Road Shows. Hal’s broadcast career included CFBX, St John NB, Canada; WABI in Bangor (which was broadcast over the ABC network); WCOU in Lewiston; WWVA in Wheeling West Virginia; and they became stars on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree.
Hal Lone Pine composed and recorded many fine songs for such recording companies as Event Records, RCA Victor and Radio International of Canada. His recordings include “Prince Edward Island Is Heaven T Me”, “Annapolis Valley”, “It’s Good-bye and So-Long To You”, “Waltz of the Bride”, and “O Lord Please Tell Me Do”.
On March 26, 1977, Hal Lone Pine suddenly passed away.
The Lone Pine Memorial Award was established by the producers of the Maine Country Music Awards Show and in October of 1977, this First Annual Award was presented to Betty Gibbin by Hal’s sons, Dick, Denny and Bob Breau.
Hal always closed his shows with a very appropriate message and has left us with these words:
“Good-bye Friends, I’ve got to leave you now. So I will leave you with a smile”.
Hal Lone Pine was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25, 2004.
Slim Clark 1917-2000
Slim Clark was born in Massachusetts in 1917, but moved to Maine at an early age.
He performed Country Music and Cowboy Music for many years. And he took the task of keeping Cowboy Music alive, almost single handedly. For seven decades, he entertained people with his stories of the old West and the songs of the Great American Cowboy.
The most important quality of Slim, was his attitude towards people, always friendly, always willing to take time and in some cases, go out of his way to say “Hi”, sign an autograph or just shake someone’s hand. He believed every person was important.
His hero was Montana Slim, and he thought so much of Wilf Carter, that he named his son after him (Wilf Carter Clark).
Slim was a very talented man, both with a Guitar and a Paintbrush. His paintings of outdoor wildlife are known all over New England and beyond. He loved hunting and fishing, and was a Maine Guide.
He never lost his sense of humor, even with failing health, his dry sense of humor was always there.
On November 16, 2000, Yodeling “Slim” Clark was inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in Tucson, AZ.
He left behind a Legacy of Music that is still played across the U S and Europe, and paintings of wildlife which will always remind us of his having been there.
An entertainer for over 70 years.
Raymond L. “Slim” Clark died peacefully on July 5, 2000, at the age of 82.
Raymond L. “Slim” Clark was inducted into Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25 of 2004.
George Moody 1933 -1990
George was born May 9 1933 in Belfast, Maine.
One of the finest guitar players Bob Elston have ever seen.
For many years he played the Bangor area, mostly the club scene on Exchange Street. He also was one of the original members of the “Top Hands”, Curly O’Brien’s Band, with Brother Bob O’Brien, Tim Farrell, and Lefty Dean.
There was even a time when Bob Elston filled in at the Victoria Hotel with him as a duo in 1959. After a few years, Bob left Bangor, and he guess’s, George did too.
Bob remembers well the first benefit that he was part of for Curly O’Brien, after Curly’s first stroke, it was held at the 10-4 Diner in Montville, Me and just about everyone was there, including Dick Curless.
Bob was sitting in the restaurant having coffee and talking with Gene Hooper and Slim Clark, when over came Harold Carter and joined the conversation. Harold said “you’ll never guess who I got a phone call from yesterday”… well, they all agreed they couldn’t and Harold said George Moody. We all looked at each other in disbelief, that couldn’t possibly be we said, George was killed in a fight in Georgia about 5 years ago. Harold said that he tried to tell him that, but he was very much alive, he argued. It was even announced on Television that he had died.
George Moody was indeed very much alive and working in Canadian Clubs in the Western Provinces of Canada for several years. It was in the early 1990’s that he succumbed to cancer.
Bob can truly say that he never played with anyone better!
George Moody passed away in 1990.
George Moody was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2005
Curly O'Brien 1926-1990
Born Philip Nathan Boyce on January 4, 1926, in Milo Maine. He was the second of five sons to William A & Madeline M Boyce.
He began his career at the early age of 15, when he became a member of the Ernie Lindell Band. At first he was billed as “Phil Boyd”, then later Mr. Lindell came up with the name “Curly O’Brien”, which has remained all these years.
Uncle Sam called him for his tour of duty during WWII, he served overseas, and returned home after his discharge. He once again took up his Guitar, this time, he was joined by a younger brother, Bob. Together they formed his first band, called “The Top Hands”, and hit the road.
Their first experience with television was on CHSJ in St John, N. B., Canada, this is where he met his long time friend and then Steel Guitar player, “Art Marr”. They traveled throughout Maine and Vermont, sometimes doing double shows with his other stage buddies, the late Hal Lone Pine, Betty Cody, Dick Curless and many others. They spent a short time on the Wheeling West Virginia Jamboree, but finally, Curly decided that Maine was definitely his “stompin’ grounds,” so they returned home.
In 1954, once again on their own soil, Curly was offered his own Radio Show on WLBZ. He got a break in television at WLBZ Channel 2, doing half-hour spots in different time segments and in 1955, was offered a two hour, morning show from 7-9 am, 6 days a week, and still keeping up with personal appearances.
In September of 1965, he made the change over to a newly formed WEMT channel 7, which has since changed it’s call letters to WVII. And after tying different time spots, they found that Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 pm was the ideal time.
When Cable TV was introduced into the Nova Scotia, Canada area, the mail response was overwhelming.
In September of 1979, Curly celebrated his 24th year on TV and he had hopes to complete his 25th year before considering retiring.
Curly O’Brien was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame on April 29, 1979.
Curly left us on December 28, 1990
Curly O’Brien was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2005.
Bob O'Brien ????-1993
Curly O’Brien’s brother, one of the finest rhythm guitar player in the State of Maine and one of Curly’s original band members, “The Top Hands”. Bob worked hard at playing Rythum and also developed into a fair Country lead man. He sang a few songs, and had a smile for everyone..He was one of the real “Good Ole Boys”..
Bob found himself in Wheeling, WVA, where he became a member of Roy Scott’s Band, “The Country Harmony Boys” (staff band for the Wheeling Jamboree). Where he stayed until receiving a call from Curly to come join him in 1955.Brother Bob O’Brien left us on February 22, 1993.
Bob O’Brien was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 25, 2005.
Jack Thurlow 1916-1997
& Louise Thurlow ????-1976
Happy Jack (Cecil H. Thurlow) was born on October 16, 1916 in South Paris, Maine.
Cecil is one of the Pioneers of Maine Country Music who followed the schedule of Daily Radio Broadcasts and traveling nightly to play shows.
He received his first guitar from his Dad in 1935, and went on the road to 1939, playing for dances in Portland, Maine. And he has been in the “Country Music” business for over 50 years.
Cecil and his wife Louise worked together for many years touring throughout the USA and Canada, presenting one of the best Family Shows at that time.
In the mid 1950’s, Jack worked with Ernie Lindell’s Rhythm Ranch Show on WMTW-TV, and traveled extensively.
During the 1960’s, they operated “Happy Jack’s Club” in Augusta, Maine featuring many top acts from the original WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. Jack made a cassette tape with Jimmy Cox and the Silver Dollar Band.
He has always worked to promote Country Music throughout his years in business.
Louise Thurlow (Jack’s wife) passed away in 1976.
When Jack performs on a stage, you can see that nice smile and personality that earned him the stage name “Happy Jack”.
Happy Jack (Cecil) Thurlow died in 1997.
Happy Jack and Louise Thurlow were inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2005.
Rusty Wellington 1925-1986
Born Douglas Wellington in Camelton, New Brunswick, Canada on April 10, 1925. The son of George T. and Margaret Charlong Wellington.
In 1936, he moved to New Hampshire when he was only 10 years old. He was educated in Keene, New Hampshire schools.
Rusty fell in love with “Country Music” the first time he heard a guitar and hoped to be a Country and Western singer someday. He wasted no time fulfilling his ambition as he started his singing career at the age of 13 touring first with Tex Ritter and later with Hank Williams Sr and Hank Snow.
He soon had his own Radio show in Manchester, New Hampshire.
He was in the Army during World War II from 1943 to 1946.
Rusty toured the US and Canada in Country Concerts for 40 years.
He worked throughout New England and then, in the 1960’s, hooked up with Bill Haley and the Comets for a time. He was lured back to New England by Duke Pelillo and the Swingbillies. And that is where I had the pleasure of working with him for several years. He was one of the greatest and most versatile entertainers I have ever met, a great singer, songwriter, comedian, he could and did do it all. He sang harmony and did Impersonations.
Two of his recordings became top 10 Country Hits. In the early 1960’s, he was a guest on the Ernest Tubb Show, he wrote for Bill Haley and the Comets, and was lead vocalist for the Down Homers.
For several years in the 1970’s, Rusty had his own show , known as the Rusty Wellington Show. He also appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent scouts, Perry Como, and a CBS network Show called “Action in the Afternoon” out of Philadelphia.
Dusty wrote two songs about Maine: “The Allagash” and “Packed in Maine”.
After the breakup of the Swingbillies and a near death experience of one of his children, he dedicated himself to God. Even to the point of becoming an Ordained Evangelist Minister. For a time he had his own Gospel Show on Channel 8 and wrote and performed his Gospel Music at Churches throughout New England.
In 1986, Rusty Wellington was nominated for the Maine County Music Hall of Fame Award.
Although Rusty was not born in Maine, he said he wanted to be “Packed in Maine”. He is an “Honorary Mainer”.
After several years of heart trouble, he passed away in 1986.
Rusty Wellington was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2005.
Joey Bishop 1943-
Wilfred Joseph Bishop Jr was born on May 27, 1943 in Madison, Maine.
At an early age, while listening to his father play guitar, he showed an interest in music. At age 8, his father made a guitar and gave it to “Joe” to learn. Joey was a self taught musician and was able to conquer any instrument he attempted.
In the early 1970’s, he joined the band "Charlie and the Playboys", at the Puddledock Dance Hall in Albion, Maine. This was his first taste of playing professionally. Being an accomplished lead guitarist, he worked every Saturday night, either with the band or filling in with other local bands. He remained with Charlie and the Playboys for many years.
In 1980, Joey accompanied by long time friend Bob Mayo, formed his own band “The Engineers”. A four piece band, playing Country and Country Rock. The band included two young talented brothers, new to the world of a working band, were Larry and Greg Tilton. Larry played drums and Greg on bass guitar. The Engineers were in great demand and soon become one of the hottest new bands in the State of Maine.
As with all bands, members changed as did the name, thus becoming known as the “Clean Country Band”. Although there were many changes over the years, the popularity of the band remained to grow, taking them to other states including Nashville and internationally to Canada. The band opened for numerous Nashville Stars, Tommy Jenning and The Stoneman Family to name a couple.
During his musical career Joey lived in the Anson area with his wife Marcia and their seven children. Being a man of many talents, he built their home, which he completed a year before his death.
He played briefly with the Roadrangers.
Joey was everybody’s friend. He wasn’t the very best guitar player in the world, but he was a good one. He wasn’t the best vocalist in he world, but he was a good one. He would fit in anywhere.
He was a true fine “Country Music” friend.
Joe Bishop was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2006.
Harold Carter 1919-1981
He was born Harold Hodgkiss in Akron, Ohio on October 17, 1919. The son of Frank and Blanche Hodgkiss.
He began playing the fiddle over 46 years ago, having learned the trade from his father, a very well known fiddle player in the Akron area. His first professional job was with a trio in station WJW in Akron.
Harold came to Maine from Ohio as a 15 year old fiddle player with a show called the Kit Carson Show, his first professional show, and he decided to stay here. After being with several bands, he worked his way to Bangor where he settled into playing clubs.
He later joined Curly O’Brien's Show and started his own Barber Shop in Hampden. He later owned and operated the Riverside Grill in Bradley for several years.
He played extensively throughout the United States and Canada with well known names such as the Ken MacKenzie Show, Tony & Juanita, Hal Lone Pine and Betty Cody, Yodelin’ Slim Clark, Gene Hooper, Ray and Ann Little, and of course, was a member of Curley O’Brien’s "Top Hands" for many years.
After working for a short period of time with Bud Bailey and the Down Easters, Harold formed his own band in 1947, the “Riders of Prairie Express”, while in St. Joseph, Missouri.
During his two and a half year career in the U S Army-Air Force, he always found time to entertain.
He appeared on the first live TV Show on WABI in Bangor and also worked on the only live “Country Music Show” originating in Bangor, mainly to be carried coast to coast on network radio. Harold and his wife Judy, lived in Bangor.
He formed a new band “The Country Ramblers” and worked week-end dates in the area.
Harold Hodgkiss Carter passed away suddenly during a performance of the Orange Blossom Special, on Father’s Day, June 21, 1981 in Lewiston, Maine. He was 61 years young at the time.
Fiddlin' Harold Carter was inducted into the Maine'sHillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2006.
Bill Clement 1929-
Bill Clement (Clement A. Paradis) was born in Lewiston, Maine on June 5, 1929, the son of a textile worker. He graduated from St. Dominic's High School in Lewiston and immediately went to work for radio station WCOU in Lewiston.
Bill was a veteran of the Korean conflict. While in the Army he was a broadcaster for the American Forces Radio in Europe. After his discharge he was employed for four years as a civilian manager of one AFN station in Italy and, at the same time, worked at another AFN station.
Upon his return he was employed for ten years at radio station WPOR in Portland, and later worked for station WKXA in Brunswick before returning to station WPOR in the fall of 1980.
Bill was a great disc jockey and exponent of “Country Music”. He was a friend to all and always ready to assist any aspiring artist in any way he could. He always gave freely of his time to assist in benefits and other Country Music functions.
Bill Clement was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2006.
Jim Doody ????-1985
Better known as Big Jim, was a well known, self taught lead guitarist.
Jim started playing as a very young child, doing Hymns. At about age 13, he started playing with Yodeling Ike and his band. They had a radio show on Saturday mornings on WTVL for quite some time. He also toured around this area with Doc and Chickie Williams.
Jim later had another radio program with Eddie (Gibson) Beaudoin. Eddie and he cut a record called the “470”, a story about the train in Waterville. And “Why Oh Why”.
He played many establishments in the Waterville, Augusta and Skowhegan areas and was well known and still remembered for playing at Waterville’s Silver Dollar. He also played with Dick and the Counts as well as other well known musicians.
In later years, he formed his own band called “Big Jim and His Harem” with many close friends for mostly fun, where he played at private parties, family gatherings and others, just to have a good time. They played Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home frequently, which all the residents enjoyed and looked forward to. His band consisted of Kitty Plisga, Joan Roderigue, Joanne Quirion (better known as Little Jo), Joyce (Gibson) Beaudoin and Gerry Durell. His biggest passion was to entertain his family and friends. This was when he was the happiest.
Big Jim has passed in 1985.
Jim Doody was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2006.
Judd Strunk 1936-1985
Judd Strunk was born June 11, 1936.
He became interested in writing and playing the banjo while he was in the Virginia Military Institute. Carl Sandburg inspired Judd to keep on with his chosen career. Judd was also in the Armed Forces and toured all of Europe during that term.
Judd formed his first band called “The Coplin Kitchen Band”. He has appeared on television shows such as Laugh-In, Hee Haw, Bewitched, Merv Griffin and had several of his own shows “Judd Strunk Specials”.
Judd ran for the Maine State Senate in 1970 and lost by only one vote.
He toured with such stars as Andy Williams, Eddie Arnold, Glenn Campbell, The Irish Rovers and he was a very close friend to Jim Stafford. Two friends of his, Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell are carrying on Judd’s music through videos. Judd also wrote and recorded his small hit “Daisy a Day”.
In October of 1981, Judd Strunk was killed in an airplane crash. He left his wife Martha Ann and their three sons Rory, Jeffery and Joel.
On April 28, 1985, Judd Strunk was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame.
Judd Strunk was inducted into the Maine's Hillbilly Heaven on September 24, 2006.
Donald Roy Doane 1907-1989
Donald Roy was born in Kennebunkport, Maine on September 15, 1907.
His interest in music began early as his mother played the piano and his father played fiddle.
In 1929, Don formed the “Katahdin Mountaineers”.
By the end of the 1930’s, the Mountaineers were playing public circuit throughout New England and were Radio favorites from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia. They have appeared on Major Bowes Radio Program in New York and performed with Kate Smith at Lake Placid.
During the 1950’s, they played dances and weddings from Kittery to Bangor and they Broadcasted a weekly Sunday Night Radio Program for Sears, Roebuck & Co.
In 1955, Don organized his First Fiddlers Contest as a fund-raising project for the Windham Kiwanis Club. It was so successful that many more followed. He entertained at Fiddle Contests in Maine and New Hampshire.
Every Christmas Don played at the Portland City Hospital and held a party for the blind. He was presented with a gold watch by the Officers of Lancaster, N.H. fair for having played at their fair for fifty consecutive years.
Don was also inducted into the Maine Country Music Assoc.’s Hall Of Fame in 1983.
Don died in July of 1989.
Donald Roy Doane was inducted into Maine’s Hillbilly Heaven September 28, 2008
Gus Fiore 1918-1990
Gus Fiore was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 13, 1918.
He started playing guitar when he was 11 years old, and became an outstanding guitar player.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, he played the Bar X Cowboys and Joe LaFlip at the Lone Star Ranch in Reeds, New Hampshire.
During his long career, he has played with some of the most recognized names in the industry. Smilin’ Bill Waters, Hal Lone Pine, Bud Bailey and the Down Easters, Smiling’ Ernie Lyndel, Smiley and Sue, Ken MacKenzie, and Tony & Juanita.
He also appeared on the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago, and while there worked with such stars as Lulu Belle and Scotty, and Rex Allen. He was a staff musician at the Hayloft Jamboree in Boston.
Gus traveled extensively from the 1940’s and into the 1960’s, playing Western and Midwestern States, and also making two tours to Hawaii.
In the early 1960’s, Gus formed his present Band. “The Knock Abouts,” and they played club dances and stage shows in Southern Maine and nearby New Hampshire seacoast area.
He and his wife Betty lived in Kittery Point, Maine.
Gus Fiore was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1972.
Gus Fiore died on June 7, 1990….. He will be missed.
Gus Fiore was inducted into Maine's Hillbilly Heaven September 28, 2008
Maurice Fournier 1923-1987
Born on May 3,1923 in Lewiston, Maine, Maurice Fournier was the son of Mr&Mrs Edgar Fournier. He attended St Johns High School in Bangor and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1943.
Maurice developed an early interest in Country Music. He started listening to MQVA and at a very early age dreamed of the time when he could appear on stage.
Maurice started taking music lessons at the age of 12. A road show played in the area and he heard a Hawaiian Steel for the first time. This really sparked his interest in show business. While still attending high school in the early 1940's, Maurice played the lap Hawaiian Steel with local dance bands. After high school, he traveled extensively with the Ernie Lindell Show and Happy Jack Thurlow.
Maurice was close friends since 1941 with Bob Bedard, a violin maker and in 1949 they started working together in the music business, selling and repairing musical equipment.
In 1953 he married Eva, who was then a singer at WCOU in Lewiston. Eva passed away in 1978, and he was then both father and mother to 5 children.
he confind his playing to weekends spending the extra time with his children. Business commitments kept him away from the active part of counrty music that he so much for over 20 years. However he formed the "Moonlighters" and once again enjoyed the spotlight, they played many singles club dances.
Maurice played and worked for Stromboli in Lewiston for many years. At the time of his death, he was working for Music Works in Lewiston.
Maurice passed away on February 22,1987.
Maurice was inducted into The Maine Country Music Association Hall Of Fame in 1987.
Maurice Fournier was inducted into Maine's Hillbilly Heaven September 28, 2008.
Eddie Gibson 1936-1996
Joyce Gibson 1937-1997
A wonderful signing team that lived in Waterville most of their adult lives.
Edmond J Beaudoin (Eddie Gibson), was born on August 10, 1936 in Bingham, Me. He was raised and educated in the Waterville, Maine area.
Eddie founded a band called “The Drifting Troubadours” in his early 20’s and began a tour of local radio and television stations.
He met and married Joyce M Willette (Joyce Marie) in 1955
Joyce Marie Willette was born July 7, 1937 in Waterville, Maine. She was raised and educated in Waterville, Maine. She began to sing when she started to date Eddie, and he taught her a few chords on the bass guitar. They sang and played together for family gatherings and private functions.
Eddie soon added Joyce’s special harmony to the band. They performed live stage shows with “Duke and the Swingbilly’s”, along with club work until the evening of October 30, 1971.
Eddie was also a song writer and wrote the song “407”, the last Steam Engine retired in Maine, in the middle of the night but felt very un-easy. A friend, Bill Schloth (a Maine Central Railroad Surveyor), helped polish the song, and let it be known that one of the original 470 train engineers had lived and past away in the High Street Home that Eddie and family were currently living in.
Then “The Country Ambassadors”, were formed, Eddie played rhythm guitar and some lead guitar, and Joyce played bass, Timmy Farrell on the fiddle, Joe Macomber on the steel guitar, their own son Eddie Beuwdoin on the drums, and Big Jim Doody on lead guitar…. A fine Country Group. After a quick rehearsal, they cut the song “407” in one hour at EAB Studios, in Lewiston, Maine.
Bill Clements of WPOR radio in Portland, Maine added the tune to his play-list and it charted at #4 for 3 weeks. The song was also featured on WABI TV, WTVL radio, WGHM radio, WRDO radio, and distributed in jukeboxes throughout Maine. Over 2500 copies were sold and they continued to enjoy success until the early 1980’s, when Eddie and Joyce retired from the Music Business.
Eddie J (Gibson) Beaudoin passed away May 11, 1996 following a heart attack, he was just 60 years old.
Joyce Beaudoin passed away September 8, 1997 as a result of a ruptured aorta.
Eddie & Joyce (Gibson) Beaudoin were inducted into Maines Hillbilly Heaven September 28, 2008.
Jimmie Morse was born in Machias, Maine, he was a cousin to Gene Hooper and Kendall Morse.
He was very talented youngster. He was about seven when his family moved from the Machias area to Portland, Maine, and he appeared on the Ken MacKenzie Show
Jimmy returned to Machias and graduated from the Normal School, now a part of the University of Maine. He taught school for quite some time.
He invested in a restaurant and gift shop in Bath, Maine area.
Several years before his death, he again returned to Machias, where he bought a farm.
He passed away in 1977.
Jimmy Morse was inducted into Maines Hillbilly Heaven September 28, 2008.
Dave never had a background in Country Music until a few years ago He became very interested in the music and soon became our Secretary,Treasurer and Publisher in the Maine Academy of Country Music.
He worked very hard to gain all the knowledge of the music that he possiby could,and laid the ground work for the entire running of our association.
Although completely disabled with sever heart problems, he continued to work endless hours for the betterment of the Maine Academy of Country Music.
On April 4 2009 Davi lost his battle with heart disease,at the age of 61.
David was with us in life and we want him in death, so we enter him into Maine's Hillbilly Heaven.
David will always be a part of our organization
Born Gerald Lindsey in Brewer, Maine. At fifteen, he entered a talent show which featured Doc And Chickie Williams in Bath, Maine and won. Jerry said the theater was full, the aplause convinced him that this was the road he wanted to travel.
In early 1972, at the encouragement of his friend Jimmy Skinner, Jerry recorded his first record entitled "No One Can Cry But Me" which did very well on Radio.
Six months later he followed it with "Lover's Hall Of Shame." He did three more releases.
Jerry moved back to the West Coast from 1972 to 1975.
During this time he worked with Hank Thompson, Charlie Rich, Bobby Bare, Mel Street, Claude King, Wynn Stewart and David Houston. His last cd title "Down Home Country" was dedicated to Johnny Cash.
Jerry Lindsey is one of the founding fathers of the Maine Academy Of Country Music and served as Vice President until the fall of 2005, when he went on tour in the Nashville area.
Jerry suddenly took ill and passed away in January of 2006 while on tour in the Nashville area
Wayne "Joe" Macomber
Wayne was born in Dover Foxcroft on May 2nd 1940.
At an early age he became interested in music and especially the steel guitar.With the help of a friend,he soon learned the basics of the steel and throughout the years of study and practice became one of the finest steel players in Maine.
In 1965 he joined Bob Elston and the Roadrangers and worked with the band for the next 29 years,until illness ended his musical career. Throughout his career in country music he was also part of the Curly O'Brien tv show for several years, and also filled in with many other groups as time allowed.
Wayne passed away in 1966,after a long battle with diabetes and heart disease.
Joe was very proud of his accomplishments in country music, and he was also very proud of his double neck Showbud steel guitar
Paul was born in Portland,Maine and at an early age became interested in country music. He first learned to play the electric bass. Then With the help of a friend, Doug Lavalley from the Wheeling Jamboree, he learned to play the steel guitar. Paul worked with many groups in the Portland area, and played on the Ken Mackenzie. TV. showon channel 13, in Portland. Bob Elston, while doing a guest performance on Ken's show, met Paul and soon Paul became part of the Roadrangers Band.He worked for about a year with the Roadrangers, when C.O.P.D. overtook him and he had to leave the band. Paul passed away in the early 80's after giving about 20 years to the music he loved so much.
Del began his musical interest in the early 50's learning to play guitar, singing and jamming with many musical friends along the way. While in the service during the Korean War, Del spent his pastime listening and learning songs by many country artists of the day. This continued throughout the 60's. Some of the first bands he played in were located in Florida. He bought his first bass guitar in 1967 and stayed with the instrument from then on.
Some of Del's favorite singers were Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves. He had an outstanding, smooth sounding style and performed many of their songs over his career.
Del joined the Roadrangers Band in the early 70's and stayed
with the group until his illness in 2000. The group had many great
musicians come and go but Del stayed the bass guitarist for over
27 years. Del had a long country music adventure doing what he
loved to do, playing music and spendtime with some wonderful friends
Mike was born in Vermont,
and at a very early age began a country music career.
in fact in the begining his mom used to drive him and the bandto jobs
and she also ran the box office. Mikes brother also played accordionin the band.
The two things that always stood out about Mike were his hosting ability.
He was a great entertainer,
with the ability to make you laugh and also make you cry.
He played all over New England and spent a long time in Maine, hosting
a long running morning show on channel 8.
Mike worked with many stars over the years, performing at grange halls,
town halls, schools, and clubs. Cooking was the other thing that Mike loved,
and of course since he was Italian, he owned and operated an Italian restaurant
and lounge in Belmont, New Hampshire, were he cooked days and played in
the lounge at night. He was a joy to be around and everyone loved Duke.
In the music business he was known as Duke and the Swingbillies
Yodeling Montana was born George Grey in August 1931
in Camden, Maine. George started playing guitar,and yodeling
about the age of 10. His first experience of hearing someone yodel
was while listening to Canadian artist Wilf Carter.
George said it was Wilf that inspired him toplay and sing the
old cowboy songs. George practiced hard, and became proficient
at playing the guitar, and yodeling. Later on George started listening
to another well known artist "Yodeling Slim Clark".
Slim was George's idol , he would listen to Slim's records for hours
perfecting his own style. By this time George had started playing at
local grange halls and eventually had the opportunity to meet his idol,
Slim Clark. Slim and George became fast friends, and "Slim" nominated
George for the Slim Clark Award. George won the award, and then
played and sang on the Pioneer Show. George finally had himself
recorded, after so many people asked him to put out a compact disc.
George was asked to perform on channel 38 out of Boston,
and on the cable show "Maine Country Artists". He also was
asked to perform on the "Dick Curless Memorial Scholarship Show.
George enjoyed performing at local nursing homes. He was always
ready witha smile and a song. When George left a place where he
had performed, his favorite saying to the crowd was
"adios, and keep up the good 'country music', and enjoy it
everyday, and keep on smiling"
A great lady.A true gem. A major star.
These are just a few of the phrases family members used to
describe Country Music Legend Chickie Williams,
who died at the age of 88. Born Jessie Wanda Crupe
in Bethany in 1919, the late mother,grandmother and entertainer
was better known by her stage name - Chickie Williams.
That pseudonym was acquired after she married Doc Williams
in 1939. Doc Williams said he courted Chickie for over 4 years
before her mother would allow her to marry at age 20.
Chickie began performing with Doc in 1946; by 1948 she
had a hit record of her own, an original arrangement of
the hymn "Beyond The Sunset". It reached No.3 in Billboard
magazine's top 100 Country Music Songs.
After decades of performing through-out the eastern United
States and Canada, the couple were inducted into Jamboree
USA's Walkway of the Stars.
Lawrence L. Kaherl
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