Dick Damron: The Legend and the Legacy
Submitted by Don Graham
Dick Damron has dreamed the dream, lived the dream and is still living the dream , six decades into his musical journey. From Bentley, Alberta to Nashville, Tennessee from Las Vegas, Nevada to Maltazan, Mexico and back to Bentley with stops all over the world, Dick Damron has seen it all. He’s paid his dues and some of yours as well.
I met Dick Damron in the 70’s in a very strange way. I was living in Montreal and the label we were signed to booked us to record a single in Toronto at the old RCA studios on Mutual Street. Gary Buck was commissioned to produce us and I was told to meet him in Yorkville at a predetermined street corner. I arrived at the location at the scheduled time and realized I had no idea what Buck looked like. I stopped everyone who resembled a music guy with no luck. Finally I stopped a denim clad, long haired outlaw type and said “ Excuse me, are you Gary Buck?” He looked at me funny and said “ No, I’m Dick Damron but I know Gary so I’ll show you who he is!” And all these years later Double Dee is still making music and making us proud.
Dick recorded his first record in 1958 at radio station CKRD in Red Deer, Alberta. “Gonna Have A Party” and “Rockin’ Baby”, original songs written by Damron, were his first attempts at recording. He pressed a thousand copies and released it to radio. He released the record on his own label and hit the usual roadblocks. ‘We don’t play Canadian records.” “ This confused me” Damron said. “ I’m a Canadian, they are a Canadian radio station and we’re in Canada!” Some things don’t change much! After a couple more releases on his own he signed with Quality records who manufactured and released records on a national level. The first recordings for Quality were also original songs “ Julie” and “That’s What I Call Living.” They got some airplay and began showing up in jukeboxes across the country. Damron says “ Around this time I started to realize the limitations of using my own band and recording in radio stations. In 1961 I began to make plans to head to Nashville, Tennessee and get a real producer, in a real studio with real seasoned musicians!” The result was a fine collection of recordings “Little Sandy”, Nothing Else”, “Times Like These” and “The same Old Thing Again” which were released on the Quality label.
Damron was working hard at honing his skills as a songwriter and in 1968 traveled to Toronto to receive a BMI ( now SOCAN) Award for a a song he’d written called “The Cold Grey Winds of Autumn”. Around this time other artists started recording his songs. His own recording career took off as well with a song he’d written called “ Countryfied”. It was his first number one record and also was a top ten record for American recording star George Hamilton IV. More success followed throughout the 1970s with hit singles such as: ‘Rise ‘n’ Shine,’ ‘The Long Green Line,’ ‘Mother, Love and Country’ and ‘Susan Flowers’.
In 1978 Dick Damron signed his first major label record contract and began recording for RCA. By this point he had become an established performer and recording artist in the ‘outlaw’ style of Waylon and Willie and Billy Joe Shaver. His most successful singles for RCA included ‘Silver and Shine,’ ‘Whisky Jack,’ ‘Honky Tonk Angels and Good Ol’ Boys’ and ‘Good Ol’ Time Country Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
Over the years Damron has performed at many notable shows and venues, including the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville (1972). He also toured Europe many times throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the highlight being a performance at the Wembley International Country Music Festival in London, England. Canadian performances include appearances on Canadian television networks CBC and CTV, a concert at the Calgary Stampede, as well as numerous other performances in clubs, concerts, festivals and fairs.
And now he has released ,through the Bear Family , an exciting collection of music.This box set, “Lost in the Music”, is a 3 CD collection of Damron recordings and a must have for all country music fans.
This summer Dick hits the boards again for a mini tour with old pal George Hamilton IV, for a tour of Alberta. The tour, titled The Songs and Sounds of Dick Damron and George Hamilton IV will consist of shows in Dick’s hometown of Bentley, Alberta on August 16, Edmonton at the Century Casino on the 17th and at the Red Deer Central Music Fest on the 19th of August.
It’s a chance to see two legends share a stage for an evening of great music and memories from an American treasure and a Canadian icon.
Dick Damron is truly a Canadian gem, 25 Albums, a member of The International Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame . Dick Damron is known and loved around the world but no more than here in his home and native land. He is a Legend and his Legacy does us all proud. Thanks Dick for all you’ve done for Canadian country music! Stay countryfied!!