Kenneth W. MacKenzie was born November 18, 1918 at Boston, Massachusetts. Ken and his wife, Simone, who has been a very important part of his career, were married on New Year's Eve 1938. They have two sons, Kenny and Ricky, both of whom are enjoying careers in the United States Air Force.
As a teenager, Ken's dad bought him a guitar, case, picks and instruction book from Spiegel's for $8.00. Ken learned to play the guitar well as the harmonica and played and sang on minstrel shows and at Grange meetings in the Concord, New Hampshire area where he grew up.
In 1936, Ken commenced broadcasting over Radio WFEA in Manchester, New Hampshire. This program continued for two years and prompted personal appearances including a very successful tent show which traveled throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.
During 1938, Ken came to Maine to work with Buck Nation & The Cowboy Caravan. On January 3, 1939, Ken did his first radio show at 7:00 A.M. on Radio WGAN in Portland, Maine. (At that time, WGAN was only about 4 months old.) It was this same year that Ken organized the first Country-Western-Variety show in the State of Maine and commenced making appearances to packed houses everywhere. Ken recalls, "I can remember one time appearing with the show over 80 consecutive nights in a row, one night off, and then 14 more. This was besides doing our daily radio shows on WGAN."
Ken continued this busy schedule of broadcasting over WGAN and doing road shows during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The year of 1942 saw Ken operating Lone Star Ranch at Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire. During World War 11 he served with the U.S. Air Corp. Shortly after WGAN-TV went on the air in May of 1954, a weekly televised program of the Ken MacKenzie Show began a long series of many years of being a favorite program for television viewers in the area. In addition to this already busy schedule, Ken found time to be affiliated with two other popular programs on WGAN-TV "Adventureland" and "The Mighty 90 Show" - and later did a regular Country Music discjockey show on WGAN radio. Ken MacKenzie was the Operations Manager for WGAN.
Ken sincerely feels and states that he would not have enjoyed the success he has as an entertainer, "... without the tremendous Country Music fans of Maine and the fine professional talent I had on my shows."
Ken MacKenzie inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame on April 30, 1978.
Harold J. Breau was born June 5, 1916 at Pea Cove, Maine (near Old Town). The professional Country Music career of this fine gentleman commenced in the 1940s and early 1950s when he and his group were known as "The Lone Pine Mountaineer & The Noisiest Gang in Radio." Lone Pine and his lovely wife, Betty Cody, along with their "Gang" entertained Country Music lovers throughout New England and Canada for a number of years and later moved on to be national stars of the profession. Hal and Betty were blessed with four devoted sons, Lenny, Dick, Denny and Bob Breau.
As The Lone Pine Mountaineer and later changing his name to Hal Lone Pine, he was heard and seen on numerous radio, TV and road shows. Hal broadcast from Radio CFBC, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and Radio WABI, Bangor, Maine where he had a weekly coast to coast program over the ABC Network which originated from WABI. He and Betty Cody also broadcast from WCOU in Lewiston, Maine and later moved on to WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia where they became favorite stars on the world renowned WWVA Wheeling Jamboree.
Hal Lone Pine composed and recorded many fine songs for such recording companies as Event Records (Westbrook, Maine), RCA Victor and Rodeo International of Canada. His recordings of "Prince Edward Island Is Heaven To Me," "Annapolis Valley," "It's Good-bye and So-Long To You," "Waltz Of The Bride" and "O Lord Please Tell Me Do" are remembered well by fans of Hal Lone Pine.
Very suddenly on 26 March 1977 Hal passed away. The Hal Lone Pine Memorial Award was established by the producers of the State of Maine Country Music Awards Show and in October 1977 this first annual award was presented to Betty Gribbin by Hal's sons, Dick, Denny and Bob Breau. Hal closed his programs and 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'll leave you with a smile."
Hal Lone Pine inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame on April 30, 1978.
Richard W. Curless was born 17 March 1932 at Fort Fairfield, Maine. To this day, his mother, Ella Curless Howard remains one of his most avid fans. Dick's wife, Pauline, along with his son, Rick and daughter, Terry (married to Bill Chinnock) 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 recording entitled, "The Coast of Maine." He was influenced and assisted in his early career by Yodeling Slim Clarke, Hal Lone Pine and Al Hawkes (Event Records). In 1957 Dick won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show on CBS-TV which was a big breaking-point in his musical career. The great voice of Dick Curless has been recorded by numerous recording companies including Event Records (Westbrook, Maine), Tiffany Records, Allagash Records, Capitol Records, Interstate Records and MRC Records. Dick has had many recordings which have hit the national charts such as "Tombstone Every Mile," "Big Wheel Cannon ball," "Snap Your Fingers," "Room Full of Roses," "January, April and Me," "She Called Me Baby," "Loser's Cocktail" to name only a few.
During the mid 1960's, Dick joined the Buck Owens All American Music Show and appeared from the "Hollywood Bowl" to "Carnegie Hall. After this, Dick moved back to the East Coast and became a regular member of the WWVA Jamboree U.S.A. at Wheeling, West Virginia.
In 1976, the Bi-Centennial year, Dick recorded a special tribute to America with an album entitled "Maine Train." This was followed by a very popular recording - "We Can't Wait For Tomorrow" - by Dick. The International Dick Curless Fan Club is a very active organization and demonstrates the great love and support that Dick's fans have for him.
Dick Curless inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame on April 30, 1978.
Born on September 23, 1921 at Portland, Maine, the 13th child of Elizabeth and Charles Gribbin, Betty is a graduate of North Grammar School and Portland High School, class of 1939. She started entertaining in 1939 on the WGAN Talent Club each Saturday morning and was Mistress of Ceremonies of the show.
Betty began working with Don & His Dusty Trailers, then with Ken MacKenzie, Aug. 1939 through 1949 and was on radio daily with Ken and nightly on Ken's Western Variety show.
During World War II, Betty did USO shows - Special Services - Tony and Juanita, and traveled the eastern coast as one of the Four Bombshells. From 1949 through 1954 Betty MC'd shows at the Columbia Hotel (now the Portlander) and on Sundays traveled to Webster, Mass., to work for George Mahoney of George and Dixie fame, at Indian Ranch and for some time at station WFEA, Manchester, N.H. with Gene Laverne.
From 1954 through 1971 Betty was featured with Ken MacKenzie on his TV show. In 1952 Betty was Maine's first female disc jockey on WMTW at the Falmouth Hotel with a daily show called The Yankee Barn Dance.
Betty has worked for J.E. Goold and Co., Portland, Maine since 1958 in Telephone Sales and is a member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Irish American Club, Pythian Sisters, and the Maine Country Music Association.
Betty shares her endless love with all the people of the state of Maine bestowing her with such kindness throughout the forty years that she has entertained them. In speaking of and to the people of the state of Maine she said it well with "you were, and always will be the greatest." Betty will be remembered as one of the cornerstones of Maine Country Music.
Betty Gribbin inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame April 29, 1979.
Born in Sherbrooke, Canada, August 17th 1921 to Mr. & Mrs. Alphonse and Aidina Cote, Betty is the sixth of 11 children. Betty moved to America when she was only nine months old and settled in Auburn, Maine. When she was only 6 years old when the nuns at school recognized her unusual talent and encouraged her to sing in the choir. That was the beginning of her singing career. Her first professional appearance at age 15 was over W C 0 U Radio in Lewiston where she received tremendous response.
She joined with "Lone Pine and his Mountaineers" in 1940 and later became, Mrs. Harold (Lone Pine) Breau. Together they traveled and performed throughout the USA and Canada. In 1952, Betty signed a recording contract with RCA Victor and recorded more than twenty songs, most of which were hits. Such as "TOM TOM Yodel" and "Please throw away the glass". That same year Betty was on a weekly coast to coast radio show on the ABC Network and in 1953 became a regular on the WWVA Jamboree. In the following years she toured and worked with the likes of Hank Snow, Chet Atkins, Minnie Pearl, Kitty Wells, and many others.
Betty has four sons; Lenny, recognized as one of the world's most accomplished guitarists. Dennis; a guitarist & composer now pursuing a music career of his own, Richard occupying a management position in the printing industry and Robert involved in the plastics industry.
Betty continues to perform for her Maine fans and is still very active on the performing circuits. Betty also keeps her fingers in the recording medium. Many people say that Betty should make a comeback but to many of us who see the magic in her performances and admire and respect her .... She never left.
Betty Cody inducted in the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame April 29, 1979.
Born January 4th, 1926, in Milo, Maine. The second of 5 sons to William A. & Madeline M. Boyce. Birth name Philip Nathan 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, after his discharge he returned home, and once again took up his guitar, this time 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 C.H.S.J. 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 Lone Pine, Betty Cody, Dick Curless & many others. They spent a short time on the WWVA Jamboree, but, finally Curly decided that Maine was definitely his "stompin'grounds," so they returned home.
Once again, on their own soil, Curly was offered his own radio show on WLBZ in'54. He got a break in television at WLBZ ch. 2, doing half-hour spots in different time segments and in '55 was offered a two hour, morning show from 7 to 9 a.m., 6 days a week, still keeping up with personal appearances.
In September of '65 he made the change over to a newly formed WEMT CH. 7, which has since changed it's call letters to WVII. After trying different time spots, they found that Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 was the ideal time. When Cable T.V. was introduced into the Nova Scotia, Canada area, the mail response was overwhelming. September 1979 Curly will celebrate his 24th year in T.V. and hopes he can complete 25 before he'll consider retiring.
Curly O'Brien inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame April 29, 1979.
Raymond S. "Yodelin' Slim Clark" was born in Springfield, Mass. on December 11, 1917, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clark. Slim completed two years of high school, at which time he became a professional musician at the age of 15.
The two people who were probably most influential in Slim's career were Jimmie Rogers and Wilf Carter (Montana Slim). In 1945 Slim started coming to Maine -summers; and in 1952 he became a resident of Maine. One of Slim's first bands featured a young kid by the name of Dick Curless, the Tumbleweed Kid - and a member of the Trailriders.
During his very active career, Slim has recorded over 50 78's, 40 45's and over 25 albums. All of his old 78's are in the Library at the Hall of Fame in Nashville, and have become collector's items. Slim has appeared coast-to-coast on both the NBC network and the ABC network on different jamborees. He was featured on Folk Music USA.
During his younger days, Slim played pro-baseball as a pitcher for the Blackstone Valley League in Mass. He is an avid sports fan, following baseball, football, basketball and golf. For over 17 years Slim was a Registered Guide in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Although he no longer maintains his license, he maintains his interest in hunting and fishing. Slim has become very well known for his lifelike paintings of the out-of-doors -- and one of his most beautiful paintings is that of the Lombard Log hauler.
Slim is the proud father of two children -- a son, Wilf, and a daughter, Jewell. Although he is now semi-retired, he does still record for the Palomino Records, and plays many festivals during the summertime. Most of his time, however, is spent with his painting activities. One of the proudest moments in Slim's life was when he was inducted into the Yodeler's Hall of Fame, along with Jimmie Rogers, Elton Britt, and Wilf Carter.
Gene started playing locally with friends when he was about 12 years old. when he was 17 he entered an amateur contest at a Toni and Juanita Show. This was in 1941. He played with Toni and Juanita for a short time. He worked with Lone Pine after that, and then in 1942 played with Ray and Ann Little.
He has always been one to recognize talent and to give others an opportunity. In 1950 Gene called Doc Williams in Wheeling, W. Va. and was able to convince him to come to Maine. It wasn't long after this that Gene became a regular member of the World's Original Jamboree, broadcast every Saturday night over the 50,000 watt station of WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia.
On December 27, 1948 Gene married Little Flo (sister to Betty Cody), and she has been a part of his show since. They have four children. Their daughter, Sharlene, is become very well known in her own right throughout the Maine area as a singer. Gene plays a good variety of music and is always willing to give the local artist an opportunity to be heard.
Over the years Gene has cut several albums, both in the United States and Canada, and many single records. one of his most requested songs is Little Rosa, the great Red Sovine number.
Allerton Hawkes was born in Rhode Island on December 25, 1930, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Amos Hawkes. He graduated from Deering High School in Portland, from the Massachusetts Radio and Television School in Boston, and took top honors in the electronics course given by the Air Force in Biloxi, Miss.
Al started playing when he was only 14. He played as a single, and later teamed up with the girl across the street as "Dot and Tex". His next group was the Eddie Must Trio, which played country and novelty pop numbers. From 1946 to 1948, while still in high school, Al played school functions, and functions for organizations in the greater Portland area. He built his own electric pick-up and amplifier.
From 1949 to 1951 the Allerton Alton Hawkes show was broadcast on a five station network throughout the State. Upon discharge from the service in 1954, Al formed a group known as Al Hawkes and the Cumberland Ridge Runners. They served as the warm-up band and back-up band for many acts from WWVA.
In 1952 Al and Charlie Bailey of the Bailey Brothers, then on WWVA, Wheeling, W. Va., formed Event Records. Al still continues this business, and has recorded many of the top New England artists. He recently had a write-up in a magazine in England, where the Event Label is selling very well. The first recordings that Dick Curless made commercially were on the Event Label.
For many years Al has been associated with the Peer-Southern Publishing Company in New York, and he is one of the foremost authorities on bluegrass music in the northeast. He is often called by radio stations to assist them in producing bluegrass programs.
Al and Barbara were married on May 10, 1952 in Portland. Tragedy struck in April of 1979 when their son, Frank, was killed in an automobile accident. They have a daughter, Darlene, who is married to Edwin Boullie. The family operates the Hawkes TV/Sound Cellar in Westbrook.
Fiddlin' Harold Carter was born in Akron, Ohio, on October 17, 1919, the son of Frank and Blanche Hodgkiss. He started playing the fiddle 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 on Station WJW in Akron. Harold first came to Maine to work professionally when he was 19 years of age with the Kit Carson, Jr. Show. He played extensively, throughout the United States and Canada with such other well known names 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 United States 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 from Bangor, Manly to be carried coast-to-coast on net-work radio.
Harold and his wife, Judy, are currently living in Bangor. He has formed a new band, The Country Ramblers, and is working weekend dates in the area.
Tony Tarquinio is a native of the State of Pennsylvania, and Juanita is a native of the State of Texas. Tony was working in the Boston area with a pop trio at the time he met Juanita. At this time Juanita was already active in the country music business, working as the pretty half of the George and Juanita duo. After she left George to work with and marry Tony, George then teamed up with another young lady and was active for many, many years, working under the name of George and Dixie.
In the early 1940's Tony & Juanita came to Maine, and first broadcast on Station WGAN. After a short period of time there, they moved over to Station WCSH, and remained there for six or seven years. About 1946 they moved to Bangor and broadcast over WLBZ.
They later returned to WCSH, where they were broadcasting at the time of their retirement from show business. The two of them, were one of the most active couples, playing one-night stands throughout the New England area and Maritime Provinces for many, many years.
Juanita passed away a few years ago, and Tony, after retiring from show business, moved to Philadelphia, where he is lived near his sister.
Maynard Roberts was born on January 22, 1922, in Auburn, Maine. At the age of 12 he played on WGAN Talent Show, and used the name of Duke Knight, his step-father's name. He continued to use the name Duke Knight throughout his career. He performed on the first TV Station in the State of Maine, WPMT, Portland and Lewiston, three times a week. In 1944 he was performing on WSTP radio in Tampa, Florida, while Eddie Arnold was making his way to fame on a small radio station.
After returning from Florida, he worked the only hotel circuit in Maine, the Cumberland Hotel in Lewiston, Hotel of Rumford, the Riverside Hotel of Livermore Falls, and the Narragansett Hotel in Rockland, Maine. After all this exciting entertaining, he moved to Boston to perform at the famous Hillbilly Ranch. He worked six nights a week for four years, backing up such stars as Elton Britt, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Rosemary Clooney, just to name a few.
Following the Hillbilly Ranch, Duke returned to Maine, and started playing with Tony & Juanita out of WCSH in Portland. At this time he was also playing at the C Bar C Ranch on Route 302, North Windham, Maine. Duke has appeared on many radio stations in the New England area -- WHEB, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; WIDE, Biddeford, Maine; WLAM, Lewiston, Maine; WMTW, Portland, Maine; WAGM, Presque Isle, Maine. He has performed on WMTW-TV, Poland Springs, Maine, and has made several guest appearances on WGAN with Ken MacKenzie.
Duke has done many, many benefits throughout the years. Duke and his current band, The Comanchero's, are one of the most popular bands at dances and show dates.
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