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Don Messer

  • Inducted into the CCMA Hall of Honor in 1985
  • Inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989
  • Birth: May 9, 1909 - Tweedside, New Brunswick
  • Death: March 26, 1973 - Halifax, Nova Scotia

BIOGRAPHY:

For 30 years, from 1939 to 1969, the words "Now it's time for the down east music of Don Messer and his Islanders" were heard by Canadians coast to coast, first on radio and then moving on to TV, evoking a feeling of nostalgia for the old time fiddle music, found so prominently in Messer's work.

Messer began playing the violin at the age of five, and quickly moved on to the fiddle. By the age of seven, he was performing at barn dances, weddings and church receptions. After training in Boston, he began his radio career on CHSJ in Saint John, New Brunswick under the name of the “New Brunswick Lumberjacks” with Charlie Chamberlain, his long-time vocalist. The band eventually grew to as many as 19 performers, including Chamberlain, Ned Landry, Joe LeBlanc and Eldon Rathburn.

In 1939, after joining CFCY Charlottetown as the Music Director, Messer formed the Islanders, who over the years consisted of numerous performers, although Chamberlain and singer Marg Osburne remain the most commonly identified members. The band quickly established themselves as one of the most popular groups on Canadian radio, and in 1965 began appearing regularly on CJGY-TV in Halifax. Messer’s nationally broadcast CBC TV summer series, “The Don Messer Show” began August 7, 1959 and remained on national television until 1969 as, “Don Messer’s Jubilee”. The cancellation of the TV show stirred fans of the show to organize a petition for its return with a demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Messer has been credited with combining many different Canadian fiddle traditions. His style influenced others, as it was clean, straight and neat, marked by its down to earth simplicity.

Don Messer passed away March 26, 1973 at the age of 63.

 
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