A native of Bentley, Alberta, Canada, Dick Damron did his hometown proud but never quite managed to make waves outside of the Great White North despite being covered by several prominent country singers. Born on March 22, 1934 in the distant province of Alberta, Damron, like many Canadian country singers, had a great debt to Wilf Carter, a debt that proved to overshadow his fascination with rodeos. He still attempted a career as a rodeo rider, but wound up devoting himself to music in his late teens, starting to eke out a reputation in the late ‘50s when he began to play rock & roll. His first record contract came in 1959, when he bashed out a pair of songs for the Laurel imprint, which was distributed via Ohio’s King. Damron knocked out some more rockabilly for Quality before recording at Starday in Nashville, where he cut sessions with some Music City heavy-hitters that were also released on Quality. Damron returned to Canada, playing regularly throughout the country, heading back to Nashville in 1964 to cut more sessions which were eventually released on RCA’s Canadian subsidiary. He finally had a breakthrough with 1964’s “Hitch Hikin’,” which wasn’t quite enough to sustain success throughout the next year, and in 1967 he made some waves with the Canadian-themed LP 1867-1967: Canadian Souvenir Album, a record of original compositions about his homeland. It was one of his most distinctive LPs, but didn’t make him a star, so he drifted through a commercial session in 1968 and live performances in 1969, finally getting some momentum when “Cold Grey Winds of Autumn” was named “Best Folk or Country Song 1969” by BMI. Soon afterward, “Countryfied” was released and went to number one on Canada’s country charts, thereby establishing Damron as something of a star, bolstered by George Hamilton IV's number one cover of the song that same year. Damron released a Countryfied album in 1970, and it was enough of a success for him to sustain a career for the next few decades, largely on the strength of “Countryfied.” He latched upon the outlaw movement of the ‘70s, ironically cutting some of his riskier music within Nashville in 1973 with producer Joe Bob Barnhill. The subsequent album, Soldier of Fortune, proved to be a big Canadian hit, followed by another successful LP, North Country Skyline, in 1976.
Damron continued to record for Canada’s RCA branch into the ‘80s, hitting the charts regularly as one of the country’s most reliable country hitmakers. He suffered a stroke in 2001 but recovered enough to perform sporadically throughout the tail-end of the decade. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine